Wednesday April 30
Just Another Day at the Bronx Zoo. Yesterday was billed as the Ichiro-Matsui "Showdown in the Bronx" at Yankee Stadium, as the Seattle hitter came to New York with his Mariners to face Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui for the first time after Matsui's arrival from Japan for the Major Leagues. One single and a bunt between the two of them. Ty Cobb would be pleased, but this isn't baseball of the modern era!
Tuesday April 29
Apple's Music Store
Forbes.com - Apple Tunes Up. Not a bad start to a new online music download service from the folks who began the "rip, mix and burn" revolution.
I tried out the iTunes Music Store last night. At $0.99 per song and seamless integration with iTunes 4.0, it's a real winner. Plus, the DRM features do not limit a user's ability to burn CDs, backup files or share among computers, so the music is virtually the same as MP3s -- and better if Apple is right about the AAC format.
Monday April 28
Two Grand Prix World Championships?
Max Mosley says that a "Grand Prix World Championship" series is almost a certainty. He is "pessimistic that the existing Formula One team owners and Bernie Ecclestone will reach a compromise," and for that reason thinks "that GPWC will happen" by 2008. [Guardian Unlimited]
What a disaster this would be. Hasn't the Formula One crowd learned anything from the CART/IRL split in US open-wheel motor racing? Dividing the international driving world championship series in two would ruin it.
Both sides here need to stop grandstanding and come to their senses.
P2P Sharing Held Lawful
iNet News - Judge Rules In Favor of File-Swapping Sites. It took a few years, but someone has finally figured out that end user copying of music falls under the Supreme Court's Betamax decision and that without a central server, P2P file sharing applications cannot be labeled as contributory infringers. Hillary and RIAA, eat that!!
Sunday April 27
Cisco's Eavesdropping Apparatus
In response to what it terms its "customer's needs," Cisco will start to embed "lawful interception" capability into its router products. [C|Net News.com] What's really going on here is that the convergence of packet-switched and circuit-switched networks is accelerating. So the law enforcement community is no longer content to give the Internet and ISPs a free ride when it comes to wiretapping. Cisco can't be blamed, since it's job is to sell products, but this is just another sign that the days of anonimity on the Internet are numbered.
Friday April 25
Best Player In The World
Jaromir Jagr says he "want to be the best player in the world," but the Washington Capitals are considering a trade because he costs too much money.
Well, you can be a great player on a bad team if the rest of the folks are mediocre. Jagr played spectacularly, but his crisp passes were often missed by lackadaisical teammates and when the opposition banged on him -- as Tampa Bay did by beating up his face, leaving him out cold on the ice with a blood-splattered uniform -- no one on the Caps ever retailated. The Caps have asked Jagr to do it alone, which has never worked in hockey. Orr needed Esposito, Gretsky needed Messier, but Jagr's got a bunch of mediocre journeymen.
Ted Leonsis, listen up! You want fans to pack MCI Center, get a good team, a consistently winning team. Don't send players away and go with two-bit has beens and unproven rookies. Pick up a Sergei Zubov -- a real defenseman -- and a Pavel Bure, a Ziggy Palfy or (dare I say it) a Vincent Lecavalier. Get Jagr his Esposito or his Messier, and you will fill MCI Center to the rafters every night.
Ballmer Says Linux Is "Cancer"
Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, once again on an anti-open source crusade, now says that Linux is a "cancer" but that the new Windows Server 2003 product can compete with free software because is it "innovative." [CNET.com]
All this from the company that brought us a desktop GUI in 2000 that Apple made available in 1987, that specializes in buying technology developed elsewhere (DOS, PowerPoint, IE, etc.) and that still cannot fugure out how to put a laptop computer to sleep. Eat your Cheerios, Steve, you're going to need them. All you have is monopoly power; in the long-run, that's not enough to save the company.
Tuesday April 22
Was It All A Joke At AOL?
SEC Probing More AOL Advertising Deals. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating "millions of dollars of advertising deals" involving America Online that "go significantly beyond the scope of problems already disclosed" by AOL Time Warner Inc., sources familiar with the probe said yesterday. What this suggests is that even during the "bubble" years, AOL's earnings were overstated by realizing revenue on Enron-like deals. They fooled a lot of folks into investing, particularly after the Time Warner merger. As the epitome of the "new economy," AOL's continuing accounting irregularities only underscore that there was not much real value to the "value propositions" these Internet-centric companies touted.
Monday April 21
After Meltdown, A Familiar Letdown. Triple overtime, tremendous goaltending by Olie Kolzig and, once again, the Caps are ruined by stupid penalties. This time it was Sergei Gonchar for interference with 4 mintes left in regulation, then a messed-up line change in the third overtime that led to a bench minor for too many men on the ice. [washingtonpost.com].
In the final analysis, this series was gift wrapped so nicely for the Bolts by several NHL referees that it might as well have been from Tiffany's. [Sporting News]. Yet as I said before the playoffs returned to DC, the Caps' powerplay would ultimately be the deciding factor. Officiating clearly played a role in creating chances for the Lightning, but Tampa Bay managed to capitalize while the Caps' power play -- featuring more abundant individual talent -- finished the series in a 2-for-18 rut and went 1 for 7 Sunday. So there. Hit the midget!!
Friday April 18
No Fly List
EPIC has released documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showing that the government has established a "No Fly List" of suspected terrorists.
Problem is, TSA doesn't compile very accurate information, so as BusinessWeek Online reports, once you're on the list it's impossible to get off. BusinessWeek - The System That Doesn't Safeguard Travel.
.NET Is .NOT
Microsoft announced yesterday it is abandoning the ".NET" brand for its Web services product line, re-christening them "Windows Server System." [The Register]. That's a long-overdue admission that servers are best described as "servers," not some amorphous blob of language, runtime or webservices. ".NET" clearly meant a lot of things to a lot of people at Redmond, but very little to the outside world.
Thursday April 17
Spam, Spam and More Spam
Always On includes a post by Phil Goldman, founder and CEO of Mailblocks and former co-founder of WebTV, commenting that spam is killing consumer e-mail and that the Web portals -- which dominate consumer e-mail -- are doing nothing about it. The State of Consumer Email: Consumers Deserve Better :: AO
Well, I think that Mailblocks is doing nothing, too. Filtering and blocking e-mail is a quixotic exercise, because spammers proliferate domains and e-mail addresses and because doing so only increases the chances that good e-mail will be filtered out. Mailblocks requires human confirmation, from the sender, if a "from" address is not in the recipient's address book, which of course just makes getting mail from new people -- like prospective clients, long-lost childhood friends, etc. -- problematic.
Goldman does say:
Now I can agree with that entirely. See Suing Spammers.
Wild Wild East
Russian political reformer Sergey Yushenkov, head of the "Liberal Russia" party and deputy in the State Duma lower chamber, was killed in a gangland-style execution on the streets of Moscow this evening. Pravda says that "[a]s it is supposed, Yushenkov's death might be linked to his political activities." [PRAVDA.Ru]. No shit, Sherlock!
Really, there's no question he was rubbed out, only whether Russian President Vladamir Putin can be linked to the assasination. The Liberal Russia party was founded last year with the financial backing of Boris Berezovsky, a self-exiled tycoon and opponent of Putin. Yushenkov's murder comes just one day after Liberal Russia announced it would challenge the Putin government in elections. Salon quotes Viktor Pokhmelkin, co-chairman of Liberal Russia, as saying he is certain it was a contract killing.
And such a high-profile killing stands out even in a country where murders of politicians and businessmen are relatively common, observes BBC's Russian affairs analyst Stephen Dalziel.
So the new East is acting a lot like the Wild, Wild West. And we thought there was anarchy in Baghdad.
Wednesday April 16
Littering The Ice In Overtime
The Caps lose on bad officiating in overtime. The fans then vented their frustration at the officials by littering the ice with bottles and other debris after the final goal in the 4-3 loss. [Yahoo! Sports]
Yeah, a 5-on-3 overtime power play is crazy. What happened to the refs "putting away their whistles" in overtime? BTW, our seats are in the 5th row, so we got littered with the stuff that couldn't reach the ice.
More importantly, Jagr got decked and lay bleeding on the ice after setting up the game-tying goal late in the 3rd period, but no one on the Caps retaliated. That lack of physicality is going to come back to haunt them down the stretch.
Internet Security Index
So cybersecurity risks are increasing. Wow, what a surprise! RSA Unveils "Internet Insecurity Index".
Sort of like the 5-minutes-to-midnight clock that the scientists used on nuclear proliferation. We may never get there, but it's a good way to scare folks into action.
Tuesday April 15
Messing With Their Heads
Right-Thinking Comments - Penile PsyOps. Our friendly conservative on the "Left Coast" cites an interesting MSNBC article titled "The Secret War" which talks about pychological operations directed against Iraqi troops, by broadcasting 400-watt arabic messages from Bradley fighting vehicles saying that Iraqi men are impotent.
Well, if all it takes is a little insult to their dicks, then Iraqis really are dickless wonders. And their former leader either never had a battle plan or is the most inept general in history. It was the battle-that-never-was, defended by soldiers who died from taunting. Like the memorable line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- "Go way or I shall be forced to taunt you once again"!!
America Online on Tuesday said it is filing five lawsuits against individuals and companies that are allegedly purveying bulk unsolicited e-mail, or spam, to its members. [CNET News.com]. Boowah! Spam is destroying the Internet's real killer app, e-mail, by forcing users towards filtering software that kills the good unsolicited messages along with the hundreds of bad ones for Viagra, penis enlargement and Nigerian ex-dictator's wives fortunes. It is preventing legitimate marketers from communicating with customers and raising costs for ISPs, enterprises and regular Joes. Legislation won't do anything. AOL, we salute you!
Get Into The Groove
Yahoo! Sports - Capitals at home with power-play groove
Hot, cold, hot again. The Caps have been inconsistent all season, especially on the power play. As Joseph White of AP observes:
That's not the stuff to write home about. Tonight at MCI Center, up two games in the series, will set the tone for whether the power play -- and with it, the Capitals' post-season chances -- returns once again.
Monday April 14
Tiger Is Human
Yahoo! News - Woods Looking More Human After Masters Failure
So the Tiger-man is human after all. What did you expect? Even a master can't win all the Masters.
Funny thing, though, is that while everyone complained that his huber-dominance was uninteresting, this year's Master's Sunday was decidedly less than exciting without Tiger in the hunt.
Browser Wars Redux
Apple adds features to Safari browser | CNET News.com
Apple Computer this morning released an updated beta version of its Safari Web browser as part of a reported effort to "distance its software environment from Microsoft's." Apple says that:
Many folks, myself included, felt that the network effects characteristics of the software industry meant that the browser market had already "tipped" decisively to IE. Which would suggest that there is little reason for anyone, including Apple, to innovate in the browser space. So what is going on here? Platform independence perhaps, but it is unclear what the commercial benefits are (if any) that accrue to Apple from developing a new browser. Having said that, I am indebted to Steve Jobs and am rapidly becoming a devoted Safari user.
WorldCom Is Dead
So Bernie's fiasco is finally over. They've taken his ranch and now are mothballing his corporate name. It's just a shame that the once-proud MCI brand will apply to the sad remnants of such a sordid band of scum. [Washington Business Journal]
Sunday April 13
Scoring At Will
Jaromir Jagr showed last night why he is really worth the money the Caps pay him. Two goals -- both pure artistry -- and two assists led the Capitals to a 5-2 victory over Tampa Bay to take a 2-0 games lead in the first playoff series. Tampa tried to slow him with some fierce checking in the first period, to no avail. Jagr just laughed, saying "You think maybe those guys wake me up by trying to hit me like that?" An awakening of sorts, too, for Jags, who had not scored in 20 consecutive playoff games.
I said last week that it was doubtful the Caps would advance unless something extraordinary happened. Suffice it to say it did. Wrong was I.
Friday April 11
End Of An Era - The Concorde
The Concorde may prove to be not only the world's only supersonic commercial aircraft, but also its last. It's being retired by Air France and British Airways.
A sad day for technology, a great day for the tree-huggers, but overall just another change in fashion. With the economic collapse of the airline industry, airlines are switching focus from fast to cheap, and from big to efficient. See Why economists don't fly Concorde. As if we needed to be told that there's no more romance in flying. Duh!!
The TV War
All War, All The Time. What began as a fascinating experiment in real-time war television turned into a lesson in repetion, drudgery and superficiality. At least until the fall of Baghdad. As New York Times critic Charles McGrath observes:
The Iraq War, in short, was basically a TV bomb!!
Wednesday April 9
Fear & Loathing in Cyberspace
In my continuing search for interesting usages of Hunter Thompson's phrase, the first entry is Fear & Loathing in Cyberspace, an essay by BYU Professor Michael Bush. He concludes that Microsoft's commitment to so-called "open" systems belies claims that Bill Gates has improperly dominated the PC industry.
Personally, I agree with a quote the author attributes to Apple Computer's Steve Jobs:
That was 1996, before the iMac, before digital hubs and before the MP3 revolution. Steve was wrong, but so is Bush. To say that Microsoft supports "open" systems is absurd.
Total control has been replaced by "sheer anarchy" today in Baghdad, which looks very much like the former Soviet Union did in the days surrounding the 1991 collapse of the Politburo. Photos of the masses taking down huge statutes of Saddam Hussein rival those of Lennin's statutes being torn down in Moscow. Perhaps not in hostorical significance, but certainly in emotional appeal. [washingtonpost.com]
Tuesday April 8
The Second Superpower - Googlewashing
Is worldwide public opinion, or more precisely, a "Second Superpower," wielding the power to make or break international foreign policy regarding the conduct of the Iraq war? In The Register, analyst Andrew Orlowski explains that is less important than how the phrase came into general use, and was transformed, almost overnight as a result of blogging and the virtually instantaneous transmission of global information made possible by the Internet.
Saying that what started out as an Orwellian reference from 1984 has been repurposed in just 42 days from an anti-war analysis (in the N.Y Times) into a politically-neutered description of the information commons, Orlowski concludes that this sort of "Googlewashing" is permitting a relatively small handful of bloggers to "disappear" information for the masses:
So, there you have it. Not only does Google allow people to get information more quickly than ever before, it also allows people to lose information more quickly than ever before!!
Microsoft's Scary Post-War Crisis
This is from my colleague Joe Wilcox, reporter for C|Net News.com, who has provided a brilliant analysis of the several threats facing Microsoft. Most pointedly, he observes that Microsoft's exposure to open source alternatives and software piracy will likely expand after conclusion of the Iraq War -- because the company is viewed as a global symbol of American wealth and dominance. Watch out Bill Gates!
Monday April 7
Springtime for Jagr
Jaromir Jagr finally gets to show whether Ted Leonsis' $11 million per year deal for him to join the Washington Capitals last season makes sense. Jagr is a tremendous player, with a flair for improvization, speed and superb strength. Yet with the mediocre supporting cast around him there's little chance of the Caps progressing far in the playoffs, where they are seeded 6th in the Eastern Conference.
Jagr is "the best scoring threat the Caps have," but that's not going to be enough without much, much more.
This one was so great I just had to add it. Commentary is unnecessary.
Sunday April 6
Well after three years of playing golf I took my first lesson today. It was a video lesson, hitting only into a practice net, and suggested a couple of interesting things about why the game is so fascinating. Bottom line is that golf is a game of diametric opposites.
While writing this, BTW, I was listening to Hello, Goodbye from the album "Anthology" by The Beatles.
Golf is a game that requires a lot of thinking but also none at all. That is, one must analyze the swing, conditions and course challenges, but then eliminate all or almost all thought during the swing itself. It is that clearing of the mind and elimination of thought -- like the complementary challenge of patience and relaxation -- that provide the satisfaction from a good golf shot. On the other hand, most of the mechanics involved in golf itself are counter-intuitive. So what I learned today in my first lesson was that by focusing on avoiding a slice I had created swing mechanics that reduced power and actually led to increased spin and the dreaded "power fade." So over the next few weeks I will focus on clearing the hips before impact, allowing the club head to accelerate open and see where she flies!.
Saturday April 5
Real-Time Music List
Kung-Tunes, a new "donation-ware" Mac OSX app from Adriaan Tijsseling, is a great tool for adding real-time content to weblogs. Kung-Tunes uses AppleScript to pull MP3 information from iTunes and upload it to an FTP server, with an array of formatting options. I use a server-side include (because it's simpler), which allows my main index page to retain the CSS formatting of its stylesheet.
Friday April 4
Journalist Michael Kelly Killed In Iraq
Atlantic Monthly editor and Washington Post columnist Michael Kelly was killed today in a Humvee accident while covering the war in Iraq.
Kelley authored an op-ed in last Sunday's Washington Post, "Limited War, So Far," that formed the basis for my post on "Shock & Awe." He perceptively pointed out that today's military doctrine is an oxymoron, one of "total limited war," that is being put to the test in Iraq.
Perhaps the ultimate irony is that Kelly did not live to see whether the military passes that test. But his insights live on.
English.Aljazeera.net Back Up
After a week of battling hackers, a distributed denial of service attack and the cancellation of its hosting contract by Akami, the Arab satellite news network Al-Jazeera has finally gotten its english-language Web site back up.
This is really offensive. Not their coverage, which may or may not be accurate, but rather that hackers -- surely Americans -- would use their technology skills to prevent other Americans from getting news and information with other viewpoints from around the globe. We live in a pluralistic world, and whether you agree with the Iraq War or not, all Americans should decry any attempt to restrict the ability of our citizens to have free access to news and information on the Internet from any media source worldwide. Yet in spite of being mostly knocked offline, the Al Jazeera Web site of was among the most sought-after last week. So there is some intelligence in the universe after all!
Thursday April 3
Wi-Fi No Shows
Starbucks and T-Mobile have made a big push to establish 802.11b "hot spots" around the country, but so far no one is buying! That's perhaps not unexpected, since Wi-Fi is still somewhat of an early adopter technology, but the extremely small take rate -- just 25,000 out of 22 million Starbucks customers -- is surprisingly low. As usual in the New Economy, making a viable business model out of a new technology is proving harder to implement than the initial plans suggest.
Hey, This is Better!
Read the MT documentation and added a stylesheet. Much improved, I think.
Way to go, MovableType!
Wednesday April 2
Excuse My Format
I've switched the blog from iBlog, a local Macintosh application, to Movable Type, a server-based CGI scripting package. This will allow me to post from any computer with Web access. There's a lot to learn, however, and all I could accomplish this evening was installation and importing prior entries. So it's a Plain Jane blog for a little while.
Tuesday April 1
Look Who's Back -- What Are They Smoking?
BusinessWeek Online reports that technology and telecom stocks are "back in the black." They've got to be kidding.
Everyone knows that the telecom market is still being pounded by overcapacity, tremendous debt loads and demand that has fallen well short of projections. As for technology, other than a few mega-brands -- eBay, Amazon.com and Yahoo! -- there is no indication that software, Internet or IT stocks are ready for a long-term rebound. Sure, a few issues posted large percentage gains in Q1, but that's because they were climbing out of the toilet. So for BW to opine that the market meltdown has reversed itself is pure hogwash.