Happy Birthday Wolfie!

Today is the 250th anniversary of the composer known as Mozart.

I love classical music; of the classical composers, Wolfie was always my favorite.

Thanks for Symphony No. 38 [Prague] (my favorite)

Thanks for Symphony No. 41 [Jupiter] (last symphony; perhaps the best).

And countless other pieces.

Norton Blues

I’ve always been a big fan of Norton/Symantec products (especially Antivirus), but – over the last year or so – resubscribing to its products (via Net), has been, at best, shitty.

I’ve NEVER had a good experience (over the last year or so).

This is something Norton/Symantec used to do well; I think the whole DRM thing has made stuff messy.

Too bad. I know the products; I like the products; I want to give the company money…but it makes it difficult to do so.

That’s not a good thing. For me or Norton/Symantec.


My recent 2006 prognostications post had a bullet point for privacy – I expected privacy to erode.

Long story short, the Feds (Bush administration) have asked Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL for search information to help its case to protect minors from porn.

Google has resisted; here are some thoughts this whole situation has engendered in me:

  • If the actual intent of this effort is to protect kids from porn, well, the very fact that the government is getting involved here dooms said process. See the CAN-SPAN act. And the Supreme Court cannot even define “obscene” beyond “I know it when I see it.” So exactly what are we attempting to defend our children against? This is a serious question.
  • While most of the request from the government seems benign, the “random X web sites you have indexed” does seem to trample on trade secrets and so on. So – for this reason alone – Google has (to me) a good push-back point (from a PR standpoint; I don’t know the law).
  • OK, the judicial branch can issue subpoenas – agreed. Can they subpoena search engines for this? Where is the “probable cause”? Search engines don’t seem tied to COPA, but….
  • Google resisted; others didn’t. If Google had not pushed back, we’d not be discussing same. What other “requests” etc HAVE happened and we don’t know about because there was no push back?
  • Google is pushing back, I think, on this request so there is not a precedent. Today, search terms. Tomorrow, who searched [x]??
  • WHY did other engines just fork over the info? Jeremy Zawodny – a Yahoo! employee (and mySql god) has finally written about his company’s complicity with all this. He politely spanks his company, while giving (quietly) Google kudos. That sorta sums up all of this (to me). Read whateveryawant into that.

Again, welcome back George Orwell…


OK, a blog meme this year seems to be posting where you’ve been last year. A little ostentatious, in many cases (Megnut and Jason Kottke, who have both traveled a bunch this year [together, for the most part]), but an exercise worth doing.

So – beyond my suburban travels – here is where I was this year:

  • Chicago, IL (downtown)
  • Springfield, IL
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Albiquiu, NM

Yes, I’m somewhat of a loser…

Problems vs. Solutions

March of the Penguins
Luc Jacquet, director

Well done, but – given all the buzz about this movie – a disappointment.

My review: A really, really well done National Geographic-type special, about an animal I knew little about, filmed extremely well under what must have been brutal conditions.

But that’s it. I borrowed the DVD; I doubt I’ll ever watch it again.

Maybe all my Disovery/History channel watching has tainted me…

All movies

Over at ongoing, Tim Bray has a good (high-level) review of Robert Scoble’s (and Shel Israel’s) new book, Naked Conversations.

Bray’s review is good (and the first I’ve read so far), but it brought up the related and non-related impressions with me. Most have little to do with the book, so bear with me, I’m just venting/spouting:

  • Scoble’s book (Israel is essentially his editor/translator, and I’ve no problem with that) is about business blogging, about how it can help businesses. Bullshit.
  • Blogs – like RSS, SuperBowl ads and so on – are solutions in search of a problem. I’ve already seen enough of the rise of both splogs (spam blogs), spam comments on blogs and ads in RSS feeds to realise that those businesses, uh, leveraging these tools are not leveraging: They are obfuscating and removing value from same. Yes, blogs can have a very positive impact on businesses – both Scoble’s and Bray’s help their associated companies (Microsoft and Sun, respectively) in very positive ways – but that does NOT mean every business should have one. Sometimes you need a Yellow Pages’ ad; sometimes you don’t. Yellow Pages are a powerful tool, but not for everyone. Sometimes you need a billboard/TV ad/etc; sometimes you don’t. Ditto for business blogs. (Full disclosure: I’ve always been a fan of telling every business to get a domain name and have – at least – a one-page site with some contact info/company info. Low cost, reserves your company name for future expansion, what’s the harm?)
  • Splogs are a real problem, especially until search engines can figure them out and rank accordingly. Both Bray and – especially – Scoble are not afraid to be honest about their respective companies and ding them when needed, and that’s good for tech companies. For makers of baking equipment, or Payless Shoe Stores (etc), I dunno. (And that’s just because I don’t know…you know?)
  • RSS: If you have something to list, hell, get it out there. RSS is opt-in, so that’s powerful from a user point of view (makes marketing cringe, agreed). And if no one links to the feed, well, you lost the time creating the feed, but…you’ve also learned something. So that’s something. But DON’T expect it to be the silver bullet to solve all your company’s ills. It’s just another tool.
  • The problem with business blogs is the same as with (many business) web sites: Once corporate reads a WSJ article about it, there’s this rush to develop same and for the first couple of months the site/blog is updated and then…isn’t. Stale content is worse than no content in some ways, especially with blogs. And I’ve seen the stale-content-syndrome over and over on a first-hand basis dozens of times. Honest. Intranet/extranet/Web site/blog/newsletter and so on: The focus so-often seems to switch to something else.

While I totally agree with Scoble that blogs can help some businesses, it all goes back to the Abraham Maslow quotation:

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

Ever notice how lots of average folks like/love Google Maps, but there isn’t a lot of talk of “monetizing” them?

Little (if any) smaps (spam maps; my term)?

Yet the integration of Google Maps, as well as Wikipedia, as quietly continued, is producing value for the end users as well a site owner and – for the most part – had not been subverted(the false entries; self-editing etc. are still issues on Wikipedia).

Too Much to Say

Three Kings
David O. Russell, director

About a disillusioned bunch of soldiers in the Gulf War, wondering just what they accomplished over there. To them, it seems the so-called successes they’ve had have not really helped the people as a whole.

Oh – and this is about the first Gulf War, early 1990s, not today’s (2006) Gulf War.

Dark comedy with very stylish cinementography; it probably resonates more today than when it did upon its release in 1999/2000, if for no other reason than the deja vu factor.

All movies

I’ve been operating on caffeine and adrenaline the last couple months, and the posts have been few and weak.

Not that anyone cares, besides me.

The trick is post often, in staccato bursts – but I’ve just not been able to do such.

As a result, I have so much to say that most has left my radar screen. (Yes, you should thank me for this…). Either that, or it’s just not relevant any more (“Hey, did you see how the Battle of Midway went?!).

More bulletins as events warrant….

The Bike in the Bedroom

There are times when you can’t really comment, but just accept. Just view what is there and…uh, get over it.

Why is this West Coast Chopper frame (and other parts) in a bedroom?

Don’t ask…

Hot looking frame and wheels; progress will be reported.

Sidenote: Wouldn’t ‘Bike in the Bedroom’ be an excellent band name?

Prognostications 2006

OK, let’s start this year off with something that will make me look silly at the end of the year – whoo hoo! (View my 2005 Prognostications Scorecard.)

Without any further ado, my (mostly tech) prognostications for 2006:

  • Google, Google Everywhere: Google will continue its ubiquitous presence on all things Internet in the coming year. Google will continue to roll out a handful of projects this year, but one will be huge – one that changes the way we approach things on the Internet (much as Google Maps did. How did we put up with Mapquest?), probably in a very big way. (Which one? I dunno…but I think there will be a networking debut that will make a big splash.)
  • Another bad year for security: I don’t know the answers for all the ills of the internet (and if I did, I wouldn’t tell you), but I don’t see things getting better, overall, in 2006. I don’t expect anything dramatic (cyberterrorism!!), but just a slow increase in the baggage of spam, phishing, viruses and so on that we have today – which is worse than we had at the end of 2004.
  • Another solid year for Apple: Last year, I predicted a decline for Apple. Boy, was I wrong. Let’s see if I do better this year. (UPDATE: Last year I prognosticated a decline for both Apple and Sun; for the latter, I said Sun would still not figger out how to make money on Java. I was right in 2005 [re: Java], I expect to be correct in 2006 [re: Java], as well.)
  • Privacy concerns grow: Between fighting the War on Terror through increased reliance on computers/networking (with their hackability) to phishing type schemes and RFID tools (for clothes, toll booths and so on), our personal privacy is shrinking. This is now alarming more than just the so-called alarmists. I think this is going to get worse before it gets better – just look at the recently uncovered Executive Branch spying program. While much of the debate is over whether said programs are legal, it still leaves one with the impression that there is probably a heck of a lot more going on than we know about. By our government, other governments, employers, cybercrimminals and so on. Welcome home, Mr. Orwell…
  • Web Services Gain Focus: This whole Web 2.0 talk, to me, is really a bunch of crap. It’s like someone has created a label and is now looking for something to stick it on. Web services used to mean strictly online apps (like salesforce.com) or SOAP and or AJAX apps, which required extensive user-side coding and open APIs on the vendor end. But today it also means, basically, any Internet-based data/app that you (the end-user/client) don’t totally own. For example, I’m writing this on Blogger, via a browser. I’ll then post it to my site. This blog text itself (and the templates) is only a part of my blog; I have other tools (homegrown) that I use to enhance this area. But Blogger is a Web Service, as far as I’m concerned. This area will see a big explosion this year, as APIs are opened a la Google Maps, or useful online servies such as Flickr (purchased by Yahoo! in 2005) appear or existing properties are made useful.
  • Bold Prediction: Microsoft Vista will be released this year: Yes, it’s scheduled for release late this year, but this is Microsoft. I’m betting it will come out in time to get on new computers for the holidays, but will be – in some ways – a crippled version: Lacking promised features. This is the only way it’ll get on holiday computers. Early 2007 Vista SP1 will make it the Vista that was spozed to be initially delivered. (Hell, they already jettisoned the new file system to get it out only … years late…)
  • Online Advertising Will Continue to Kill Traditional Advertising: Duh. Google and Yahoo combined (with Craigslist and Monster) are killing traditional advertising. There are two (main) results of this: Traditional media should attempt to adapt (they won’t, not this year); 2) This advertising sea-change will cripple a lot of traditional media. Meaning magazines and newspapers will suffer tremendously (TV won’t, not to that degree [this year] ). Pay-for-click advertising will continue to grow, and will affect – to a degree – traditional forms of advertising. Take TV commercials: Customers pay based on a show’s past performance (with some contractual language of viewer guarantees and so on). Why? Why not pay on the number of viewer for the given show that night? For the 18-24 year-old males/females and so on? Pay per view? Why not?
  • Intellectual Property Rights Will be Hot Issue: This is another one of those areas where things are going to get worse before they get better. One the one hand, you have older companies (movie studios, for example) struggling – sometimes correctly (to me, the old Napster was stealing. I’ve always said that) – against the bits vs. atoms approach to content delivery. On the other hand, you’re going to have companies – like SCO – trying to use (alleged) IP to keep the company alive because technology has changed, and they have not. It’s complicated, not pretty and going to get uglier. Super….
  • Another Internet Growth Year: I mean this in the sense of money going into internet projects, startups and so on. 2007 might see a correction (not as bad as 2000), but 2006 will be pedal to the metal. There will be a lot of action, a lot of it – in hindsight – incredibly bone-headed.
  • People Hang Up on Dial-Up: For the most part, only two groups of people will have dial-up (on purpose) at the end of the year: Ma & Pa Kettle (need only for e-mail or to check an e-mail only bill); people who can’t get some type of broadband.
  • Blu-Ray Wins over HD-DVD: Since all but Microsoft/Intel have agreed to support Blu-Ray, it wins. Game over.
  • Digital Cameras Improve: Digital cameras will get smaller, lighter, cheaper and give higher-quality pictures. The interfaces, manuals and tools to actually get a digital print will remain unbelievably difficult for all but the geekiest or most determined. Paging Jakob Nielsen….
  • Linux Will Not Make Significant Inroads on the Desktop: Getting closer (with better Open Office and improved KDE), but the lack of Mac like “magic installs” or Windows Wizards will hamper acceptance (what’s a config file??). The battle between KDE and Gnome has hurt Linux on the desktop/laptop – and Linus Torvalds has finally weighed in, but that’s probably not the end of it.


It’s going to be a busy year, but it seems like a lot of the action will be in the boardroom, courtroom and court of public opinion, and not an impressive amount of new, breathtaking technology.

Hopefully, I’ll be way wrong!