Andrew Dubber has a great take on the "piracy" issue as it relates to music:
I'd also suggest that piracy is not something that tends to happen on the scale that the mainstream media seems to suggest. Unauthorised duplication goes on, but not piracy. The idea that these two things are the same is one that major record labels tend to be quite fond of, but it bears no resemblance to either external reality, or what words actually mean.
The key question to ask yourself is whether those unauthorized copies actually represent a lost sale or not. As Andrew puts it:
When asking "Should I be worried about piracy?" the real underlying question is about whether there is a significant potential loss of income as a result of unauthorised copying. And here we're talking about what's generally referred to as the "Lost Sale".
The one off copies aren't costing you much, and can't be stopped anyway - it's the organized, mass copying efforts (organized crime) that are a real problem. In general, when a copy floats to someone through a peer network, the liklihood of a future purchase of new music probably goes up. The person listening to music on the radio didn't pay directly, but the hope is, it will drive a sale. The same goes for peer sharing. The only thing lost is the ad revenue (and that was mostly a mutually agreed upon fiction anyway).
In the PR game, some people say that any publicity (good or bad) is a net positive. I wouldn't go that far, but with peer music sharing, it is true - the individual level sharing of music should be looked at as ad hoc marketing. The beauty of it is, you don't have to pay an agency for it, and it's almost certainly more effective.
This story about XP being extended for some classes of systems is interesting - not so much from the "Vista Fails" standpoint, as from the "did MS miss this boat?" standpoint:
Microsoft said on Thursday that it will continue to allow Windows XP Home edition to be sold for a class of computers it calls "ultra-low-cost PCs." It's a category that covers machines with slower processors, smaller screens, and in many cases flash memory for storage, rather than a traditional hard drive.
So the bottom line is, I think MS just missed the advent of smaller devices. Apple is on top of this with the iPhone (yes, I know about Windows Mobile - but Apple seems to have kept things more consistent at the OS level with OS X). The next couple of years should be interesting ones in the smaller device space.
I was listening to a podcast this afternoon, from a guy who's been doing a radio show for 25 years. He was talking about how the time seems to have flown by, and it occurred to me - I've been a Smalltalker now for fifteen years. That's a long time in one sense, but - like the broadcaster - it does seem like "just yesterday" that I picked up a VW 1.0 image and started exploring. I still remember the joy in being able to extend/change/modify anything in the system, and I also remember the shock when VW 2.0 shipped, and - since I had not been using version control - I had the devils own time moving my changes to the new version.
That was a great time, and I wouldn't give up those days at ParcPlace (even with the later pain) for anything. Smalltalk is coming back now, on the wave of dynamic languages, and the buzz surrounding Seaside. Here's looking forward to another fifteen years!
If the music industry hasn't figured out that downloads are the only path to the future, maybe these numbers - representing January, 2008 sales of music - will make it clear (from Ars Technica):
When digital moves past Wal-Mart, maybe even the denser ones in the industry will start to figure things out...
SciFi Wire reports an interesting trend at NBC - fewer repeats during the opening run of a season:
NBC's returning genre shows--Heroes, Chuck and Medium--will each air a full complement of original episodes next season, in contrast to this year's strike-truncated season, with Heroes and Chuck set to air without repeats for 13 episodes.
Part of this is the competition for attention: DVRs, on-demand video, the internet, gaming consoles. It's going to get tighter, too. I spotted this story about a big upgrade to Comcast service out in Minneapolis:
Comcast Corp. will start offering faster Internet services in Minnesota's Twin Cities region on Thursday, with plans to extend that type of next-generation system to its entire service area by 2010.
With the faster service, a customer could download a 4 gigabyte high-definition movie in about 10 minutes, compared with about an hour at previous speeds.
As that kind of service rolls out, online behavior is going to change a lot. Never mind BitTorrent; that's a bleeding edge use, and while it impacts things, the mainstream applications (iTunes, for instance) are going to start driving big changes. How will viewing behavior change when we can download an HD movie almost as fast as we can download a single song? It's going to cause a shift.
The Toronto Smalltalk group is meeting at the Toronto convention center, just ahead of IT360:
The next meeting is Monday, April 7, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, room 202B, at 6:30. We will be kicking off the TSUG Seaside project, the details of which are still being discussed on the mailing list. Bring your ideas and guestions; what we make is not a important as the process of making it. NOTE: this meeting is being hosted by IT 360 which starts the next day. There is no cost to attend the meeting, but you'll need to register for a free trade show badge, using code TS1, at www.IT360.ca (use the 'REGISTRATION' link at the bottom of the page)... if you wish to attend the conference, you can get a 25% discount by using code A101
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
I noted a few days ago that Creative was trying to irritate its customers by threatening a developer who - unlike Creative themselves - was providing a solution for people using Vista. Well, it seems that someone at Creative realized that there was no upside to this policy, so they've backed down - The Register received this from them:
We have read the strong feedback about Creative's forum post regarding driver development by daniel_k and other outside parties. Creative's message tried to address our concern about the improper distribution of certain software, which is the property of other companies. However, we did not make it as clear as we would have liked that we do support driver development by independent third parties.
The huge task of developing driver updates to accommodate the many changes in the Vista operating system and the extensive testing required, including the lengthy Vista certification requirements for audio, makes it very difficult for Creative to develop updates for all past products.
Outside developers have been very helpful to Creative and our customers by developing updates for many of our Sound Blaster products, and we do support and appreciate these efforts. This however does not extend to the unauthorized distribution of other companies' property.
We hope to work out a mutually agreeable method for working with daniel_k in supporting his efforts in driver development. Going forward, we are committed to doing a better job of working more closely with third parties to support their development for our products and our customers.
The problem is, that helpful tone doesn't match the obnoxious message that the developer in question says he's been getting (see the story for that). As I've said before, lawyers are now part of your PR group, whether they like it or not. Sending out a threatening legal letter may well not be the end of a problem, as it would have been a decade ago - it could be the beginning of a very big, public, and damaging black eye.
So Aircell just nabbed itself the first and only approval from the FAA for air-to-ground mobile broadband for US domestic flights, meaning we're that much closer to in-flight internet. So far the approval just covers the Boeing 767-200, which means Aircell can start prepping equipment to cover the 767-200 fleet of American Airlines this year, but they're also prepping to cover the Airbus A320 fleet of Virgin America.
That's good news, but what about international flights? On a long haul flight to Europe or Australia, having a network connection would be really handy...
Well, this is interesting - if what Gates says is true, then he's FUD-ing MS' own Vista product:
In response to a question about Windows Vista, Gates, speaking before the Inter-American Development Bank here, said: "Sometime in the next year or so we will have a new version." Referring to Windows 7, the code name for the next full release of Windows client software, Gates said: "I'm super-enthused about what it will do in lots of ways."
Admittedly, you have to take any MS date statements with a huge grain of salt; just look at the various predictions of Vista's release over time. Still - that line could put another nail in corporate adoption of Vista, as businesses already nervous about Vista impact could decide to take another year of stability with XP.
Technorati Tags: microsoft
Dave Winer put out a complaint I see a lot - his happens to be about the fees paid to some speakers, but I've seen other people make the same one about sports figures (etc):
I'd love to see a breakdown of the speeches. Who pays $1 million for an after-dinner speaker and why? Maybe I'm missing something, but something doesn't sound right here.
Commonly, you'll se this mixed with something like "policemen don't get paid that well, and they do a much more important job". Here's the thing though: a thing (object or service) is worth what people will pay for it. Period. There's no such thing as a "fair" price - it simply doesn't exist.
You need to drill the idea of "fair" prices out of your head, because it's a nonsensical one. Use this an example: you want to sell your house. The local government has assessed its value as $300,000. You offer it at $350,000. Are you cheating? Now, someone comes by and makes an offer of $300,000 - and then someone else comes by and offers $360,000. Do you take the lower offer, on the assumption that the "fair" price is what the house was assessed at?
When someone starts going on about how prices should be fair, here's my advice: hold on to your wallet, because "fair" is rarely cheap.
Technorati Tags: economics
On this week's podcast, we talked about how developers go about learning code they aren't familiar with - and how the approaches differ in Smalltalk and other languages. From there we rambled into static/dynamic typing some before wrapping up on the core topic.
The Times seems to be trying out a new angle to combat the competition from blogs and other new media sources: "Stop, it will kill you - only us pros can deal with the stress":
Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.
To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.
Dial the clock back to the early 20th century (or the 19th, for that matter) - it wasn't much different for the newsies of the day. We forget that many newspapers put out multiple editions a day, as news broke. You think the reporters responsible for getting those leads didn't work as hard (or harder - the news didn't come to them over the fiber)?
You would think a NY Times writer would know that, but maybe I'm expecting too much...
Technorati Tags: news
It might be time to start a deadpool for Dell - they are getting out of the "build to order" business:
Dell Inc., the personal-computer maker that pioneered selling custom-made machines directly to clients, is moving away from its build-to-order model to reduce costs.
Dell is limiting the degree to which buyers can dictate specifications while expanding its line of prepackaged models, operations chief Mike Cannon said Wednesday. Dell will also outsource more PC manufacturing to partners, he said.
That reminds me of a sales call I made back in the late 90's, when I was at ObjectShare (the one that had been ParcPlace-Digitalk). We were at a Wall Street client, pitching "Parts for Java". They liked the demo, and they were interested in Java - but then I watched (with an admitted sense of Schadenfreude) as the guy said to us: "That looks great, but why would I buy Java from you guys?"
You might recall that this was just at the point where ObjectShare was trying to claim that its "core competency" was objects, not Smalltalk - and this client just shot that idea right out of the sky.
That's what Dell is doing now. Why would you buy from Dell, if they are simply putting together run of the mill packages like everyone else? Dell is known as the "custom order" place - this is a complete violation of their entire Brand. I wonder what Laura Ries thinks of it...
Doc Searls posts a lament about what "blogging has become", and ends up pining for something purer:
So I want something new. Something for which the making of money is at most a secondary or lower priority. Not sure what that should be, but I am sure, if it ever happens, it won't be called blogging.
The thing is, the same sentiment surrounded the internet itself back in the early days, right around the time the first browsers were released. Suddenly, this pure, non-commercial thing was going to be ruined by all the money making.
I don't get it. I'm not sure why this changes things for any particular person, or why anyone should think it does. Blogging is really nothing more - or less - than personal journalism. It varies across the spectrum of utility just as print journalism does - recall that for every professional journal out there, there are tons of "National Enquirers" - online, where the price of posting content approaches zero, why would it be any different?
The subject line is something that Comcast, at least, needs to ask itself. I've had my troubles with them - day long outages, and - over the last month - constant micro-outages (just long enough to knock my IM clients and/or IRC channels over).
It seems that I'm not the only one with Comcast troubles - see this Twitter scan that radiates out from an annoyed tweet by Mike Arrington. Comcast doesn't realize it yet, but this could be the same kind of PR problem for them that "Dell Hell" became for Dell. This little comment in the Twitter scan pretty much says it all:
I don't get it. Why can't these companies make money simply selling "dumb pipes" to the Internet? I'll pay for that
Indeed. Instead, they have various kinds of filters to defeat BitTorrent, and their customer service is a mostly sorry joke. I think Comcast needs to read the subject line of this post, and then read the quoted comment above. Their theories for what counts as "internet service" are way, way more complex than they need to be.
This is one the things I like least about the supposedly "professional" media: narrative is far, far more important than fact. Take Larry Dignan, who was interviewed for the "blogging kills" story, but didn't make the cut. Why?
And that brings me to my point with Matt. Yes, blogging is stressful. Yes, it can be insane. But is it any worse than being a corporate lawyer? How many of those folks dropped in the last six months? How about mortgage brokers? Hedge fund traders? FBI agents? Any job where you gnash your teeth together? We write for a living, yap all day and donât have to wear suits. You could do worse than blogging.
But that didn't fit the narrative, so it didn't make the story. To read the Times' story, you would think that everyone blogging is desperately trying to push out "one more post" in order to get the maximum amount of Google juice possible. Heck, they didn't even produce the classic "on the one hand, on the other" type of story - it was lazier. Yet another reason to realize that most reporters don't have better skills than the average college grad of 21, much less the average blogger.
As Mike Arrington says, Comcast mostly doesn't have to care about your connection issues (or TV issues, for that matter), because they have a local monopoly in most places (I suspect that I have things a bit better here because Verizon laid down fiber - and started offering a real alternative). Having said that, what possesses them to tell outright falsehoods? Like airlines, are they operating under some bizarre belief that "we can't handle the truth"?
As Arrington relates the story, they told him that the outage he had was "California wide" (even though he was getting online at other people's houses nearby). It was only when he started the tweetstorm that Comcast called him, and then came out and fixed his problem. On the one hand, it's good that they monitor corporate references; on the other, they end up looking stupid due to the earlier behavior.
This kind of thing drives people nuts, and makes them feel like a prisoner rather than like a customer. Does anyone at Comcast see that? From here, it looks like the answer is a resounding "no".
I'll be out of the office most of Wednesday, as I'll be heading up to NYC for a meeting with a customer. I haven't ridden the Acela trains in awhile, so I'll be interested to see how they are these days.
Google has announced their application platform, and their hook to get you started is that it's free up to a certain level of usage - that usage level is restricted for the beta period (first 10,000 signups). Here's the detail on that:
Google's App Engine initially will have limits of 500MB of storage, 10GB of daily data transfer bandwidth, and 200 million daily cycles of processor use. That should be enough to power a Web site with about 5 million page views per month, Koomen said.
Once they get out of beta, that usage level will be free, with anything beyond that charged on a pay as you go basis. The interesting thing is this: the development environment for it is Python. So much for Sun's theory about what you need to scale in the Enterprise.
That provides an interesting counterpoint to what Amazon is offering though. With Google, small scale use is free, but your toolset is limited. With Amazon, you pay as you go from the start (not a lot), but you can use whatever tools you want.
Bottom line, developers just got more choices for building out web apps.
Technorati Tags: cloud computing
Jeff Jarvis is connecting the dots on CBS moves in the news division:
The signs have been adding up: CBSNews.com did major layoffs and an aggressive retreat from news online. CBS stations made news layoffs aplenty. And now CBS is said to be talking with CNN -- again -- about outsourcing news to CNN. One imagines a one-woman-thick news operation: Katie Couric reading intros to CNN reports.
As Jarvis notes, this isn't a bad thing. I rarely watch one of the 30 minute national newscasts - why would I? I have CNN, MSNBC, and Fox running news 24x7, and CNN runs a headline service if I want something short. I also have the whole net to choose from.
The interesting question is what this will do to local news operations. Those have long been seen as the "farm teams" for the big networks, but that's not going to hold any longer. I expect to see more and more affiliation with the cable news networks, and for the bons between local stations and their "home" networks to loosen.
Technorati Tags: media
Michael has been putting together OpenGL and Cairo, and the results are pretty interesting - I've got a short (45 seconds) video demonstrating what he's been working on. You can load it and try it out yourself: just go to the public store, and grab the OpenGL-Examples package.
I've also made it available on YouTube:
It's been a slow but steady process - over the last couple of years, we've been moving more and more to the Mac, and to Apple products in general. It started with the Mini we bought, just before Apple went to intel. Then came the iPods, one for me, one for the kid.
That was it for awhile, but then the MacBook Pro arrived last summer - I was sold enough that my wife got a MacBook - which she loves. Now I've upgraded my old iPod to a Nano, and my wife is getting one of the classic models.
This is a sea change for us - not too many years ago, I was arguing that Macs simply weren't worth the cost premium. Now? The sheer amount of time I haven't had to pound my head on the desk makes up for that differential.
Dave Buck has announced a Smalltalk training class in Santa Clara, California:
Simberon will be offering an open enrollment course Introduction to VisualWorks Smalltalk course in Santa Clara, California. It's a 5 day course that will be running from May 12th to May 16th 2008. The course covers the Smalltalk language and basic libraries, version control, refactoring, and building user interfaces. To register visit Simberon's web site.
Technorati Tags: training
I like taking the train (as opposed to flying) when I head to NYC. This might come as a surprise to people who know me, as they know that I'm fairly skeptical about any expansion of high speed rail in the US. The thing is, it works in the Washington - NY corridor, and in the NY - Boston corridor. There are other places in the US where it either works now, or could work - the region around the Great Lakes comes to mind, and also the coastal California corridor between LA and SFO. That's not to say there aren't problems though.
If the railbed isn't ready for high speed trains, the infrastructure cost for laying those down is enormous - especially compared to planes, that don't have to stick to a restricted space. On longer haul routes, rail makes even less sense. In the abstract, I'd love to take a comfortable rail trip across the US. In reality, there aren't enough people who want to do that on a regular basis to justify it - why take a multi-day train when you can fly in 5-9 hours (depending on whether it's non-stop or not)?
To relate this to software, I think it's another case of picking the best tool for the job. When I have to head to NYC, the train is a far, far simpler and more efficient option than air travel. When I have to head to Cincinnati? It's a different ballgame.
This is kind of curious. My trip up to New York was completely uneventful. On my way out of Penn Station I noticed soldiers (National Guard, maybe?), all unarmed. I wasn't sure whether they were working or just in transit, like me. Now, on my way back home, I noticed soldiers at Penn Station again (unarmed, so what's up with that?) - and then on my train (the 5 pm southbound) - police stationed on the train, in between every car. I've never seen that before - is this normal, or are they looking for something? Very strange...
Alan posted some basic info today (with more to come), but here's the basics:
- Wednesday, June 18: Registration, Coding Contest, Welcome Reception
- Thursday June 19 - Saturday, June 21: Conference
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
By now, everyone has heard about the inspection related cancellation of thousands of American Airlines flights; the bad news is, there's more to come across the industry:
A second wave of audits began on March 30 and will continue through June 30. Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said it could not rule out further groundings. "We don't know," she said. "We find what we find."
Who knows which airlines will end up in the crosshairs? I'm still planning to fly American to Smalltalk Solutions - odds are, the problem will have gone by them by June. Knock Wood....
If it's spring, it must be time for our annual planning meeting in Cincinnati. Next week (airlines willing), we'll be getting the Smalltalk team (myself, Arden, Suzanne, and all of engineering) together to look at the next release cycle. Arden has been asking for customer feedback for awhile now, but I'm sure he'd be happy to get more.
Charles Miller isn't happy with the rash of Twitter-spam out there. I'll note that this isn't new; Immediately after I joined Twitter (awhile ago) - I recall that one of the first "follow me" requests came from "Girls Gone Wild". I kind of figured that they weren't interested in "Smalltalk Daily" :)
Technorati Tags: twitter
Who knew Yahoo would go this far to avoid Microsoft - it looks like an AOL/Yahoo merger is in the works. I'm not at all sure that it's a good idea; both companies are foundering, and it's rare that two bricking companies do more than sink faster.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is talking to News Corp. to create a joint MS/News Corp/Yahoo monstrosity? Sheesh, Microsoft can't focus now; can you imagine them after that took place?
If Google has any sense at all, they'll sit back, order some popcorn, and watch their competition commit suicide.