Time for that weekly look at the logs. BottomFeeder downloads backed off a bit, to a rate of 198 per day. The details:
That takes us to the HTML pages accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
That looks like the normal distro for that. Finally, RSS/Atom tools:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||7.8%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||3.9%|
|Strategic Board Bot||1.2%|
|RSS 2 Email||1%|
That wraps another week - with a few new bots, looks like. We'll see if they stay around.
Michael Lucas-Smith and I have decided to give podcasting a whirl - we hope today's episode will be the first of a regular (probably weekly) effort. Next time, we'll be more careful about audio quality; you can hear a slight echo of Michael from my speakers.
Anyway, we discussed recent goings on in the dynamic world - Sun hiring the JRuby guys, Strongtalk, Iron Python at MS, Vista Smalltalk at MS, and then we descended into a rant about the DRM in the new MS Zune player. Anyway, give it a listen and let us know what you think.
Hmm. I suppose if 7th grade level bathroom humor floats your boat, perhaps - it's not particularly inventive to come up with takeoffs on "Harry Reid" or "John Boehner" though. After about 30 seconds of that, I decided that it was about half as funny as Ze Frank thinks it is, and just shut it off.
When he graduates to 8th grade humor, someone let me know.
Michael and I talked about doing a podcast last night - I ran across some software that does a good job of recording conversations from Skype. So, we gave it a shot this morning. Without enough caffeine, it seems - next time, I wear headphones so as not to have a speaker echo :)
Anyway, I'm doing some post processing on the audio now, and I should have it up later today. We plan on doing this kind of thing regularly, perhaps once a week.
Well, it looks like the Zune is going to give us an interesting conflict: DRM versus the Creative Commons license. From the Creative Commons FAQ:
If a person uses DRM tools to restrict any of the rights granted in the license, that person violates the license. All of our licenses prohibit licensees from “distributing the Work with any technological measures that control access or use of the Work in a manner inconsistent with the terms of this License Agreement.”
Why does that matter? Well, we have to go to the details on how the Zune player will share music over WiFi:
Zune accomplishes this amazingly stupid feat by wrapping shared music in a proprietary layer of DRM, regardless of what format the original content may be in. If Microsoft’s claims are to be believed, this on-the-fly DRM will be seamless and automatic - which must be some kind of first for Microsoft.
What Microsoft has created is a new form of viral DRM. Zune will intentionally infect your music with the DRM virus before passing it along to one of your friends. After three listens the poor song dies a horrible DRM enabled death. Talk about innovation.
This illustrates one of the fascinating little edge cases that DRM runs into. How often will this come up? I have no idea - is there much music under that (or similar) licenses? Probably not that much, but I suspect that there's going to be more of it.
Of course, I also await the obvious bug: some guy gets a song this way, and the protective code wipes his entire library instead of just the one song. Yeah, that DRM sure is adding value.
It looks like partnering with Microsoft in the music space was a huge error: and it looks like customers of those partners are taking it in the shorts:
Microsoft's Zune will not play protected Windows Media Audio and Video purchased or "rented" from Napster 2.0, Rhapsody, Yahoo! Unlimited, Movielink, Cinemanow, or any other online media service. That's right -- the media that Microsoft promised would Play For Sure doesn't even play on Microsoft's own device. Buried in footnote 4 of its press release, Microsoft clearly states that "Zune software can import audio files in unprotected WMA, MP3, AAC; photos in JPEG; and videos in WMV, MPEG-4, H.264" -- protected WMA and WMV (not to mention iTunes DRMed AAC) are conspicuously absent.
If you made the mistake of getting into the Plays For Sure DRM room, MS just hacked off your kneecaps. Explain to me again how DRM is "no problem", and how consumers shouldn't care?
Wired reports that Virgin Atlantic Airways is not only forbidding non-plugged use of Apple and Dell notebooks on board their airplanes, bu the batteries have to be wrapped and checked:
Virgin Atlantic Airways is restricting the use of Apple and Dell laptops and their Sony-manufactured batteries on its flights. The restrictions are in response the August recalls of millions of batteries used in the two companies' notebook computers due to a risk of overheating and fire, and it affects owners of Inspirons, Lattitudes, iBooks, PowerBooks, MacBooks or MacBook Pros. Virgin will allow customers to use these laptops, but only with seat-side power supplies (if you're flying coach, too bad). The batteries must be wrapped and confined to the owners carry-on luggage and kept separate from the computer. Korean Air recently imposed similar restrictions on laptops using Sony batteries. Virgin said they'd lift the restrictions "as soon as this safety issue is resolved."
If that spreads to other major carriers, I think we'll see a lot of very unhappy business travelers. Makes me glad that I'm carrying a Thinkpad, but that was a sheer luck of the draw thing - Cincom was equipping us with Dell notebooks a few years back. This is one to keep your eye on if you travel by air.
This news on cell phone use has made me bring this image back:
From the story:
California will become the fourth state in the country to ban motorists from holding cellphones while driving under legislation Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he will sign into law today.
Should I feel better if I get plowed into by someone holding a Big Mac in one hand? How about someone holding a Mocha from Starbucks? What about the mom or dad trying to get the kids in the back seat settled down?
But not to worry - at least in California, we'll be safe from hand held cell phones. Don't ask about what happens when the phone rings, and people have to scramble to plug the headset into their ears at 60 mph, either.
Technorati Tags: stupidity
Federal health officials worked Friday to find the source of a multistate E. coli outbreak and warned consumers that even washing the suspect spinach won't kill the sometimes deadly bacteria.
One person died and dozens of others were sickened in the nine-state outbreak, linked by Food and Drug Administration officials to bagged spinach.
This is one of the downsides of the kind of distribution network we have in the US (and in the rest of the developed world, for that matter): when there's a problem, it's not always obvious where it originated.
I don't buy bagged spinach, but I buy a lot of bagged lettuce, and pre-made salads.
|Smalltalk Solutions 2007 will be held in Toronto again, in conjunction with LinuxWorld/NetworkWorld (which is changing its name next year, but I can't find the reference). The conference will be held April 30-May 2 - see you there!|
The RIAA's nightmare continues. I thought I had heard something about a new Russian law targeting All of MP3, but then this morning I heard about AllTunes: a client front end to the site. It looks like buying inexpensive MP3's is still easy to do there. If I were going to do that, I'd want to be very careful about the payment method though.
Here's a welcome blast from the past: Professor Peabody is coming back!
DreamWorks Animation is developing a computer-animated film based on Mr. Peabody & Sherman, the classic animated TV shorts about a time-traveling dog and his boy, Variety reported. Rob Minkoff (The Haunted Mansion) will direct the film, based on the shorts that were introduced in 1959 as part of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
I loved those segments when I was a kid :)
It looks like YouTube's carefree existence might be coming to an end: Universal is starting to get torqued about their service:
Universal Music chief Doug Morris launched a loud salvo at YouTube, warning the upstart Internet firm that it could come into the legal crosshairs of the world's largest music company.
YouTube, the prolific swapper of videos online, consistently violates the music industry's copyrights when it allows users to post videos, Morris said in a speech at a Merrill Lynch conference in California.
Mind you, the clues aren't very thick at Universal - they think they lost money on MTV videos:
Morris related a frequent historical gripe often mentioned by music execs, saying the industry made a costly mistake in the 1980s when it agreed to give MTV free music videos. At the time, the industry saw the fledlging video trend as mere publicity to sell albums, rather than as a revenue generator itself.
"The poster child for this was MTV," Morris said. "Twenty-five years ago, they built a multibillion-dollar company on our software.
Yeah, no one ran out and bought a CD (at extortion prices, I might add) after seeing "Money for Nothing". Right. Does the elevator go all the way to the top over there?
I'm not condoning theft, but does anyone think that a video of someone lip synching to a song (recorded with poor quality) is something I want instead of a CD or an iTunes download?
Nick Carr explains why Web Office suites will have a slow takeup:
Whatever the flaws of Microsoft Office, most end users are comfortable with it - and they have little motivation to overturn the apple cart. What is absolutely unacceptable to them is to take a step backward in functionality - which is exactly what would be required to make the leap to web PPAs today. Web apps not only disappear when you lose an internet connection, they are also less responsive for many common tasks, don't handle existing Office files very well, have deficiencies in printing (never underestimate the importance of hard copy in business), and have fewer features (Microsoft Office of course has way too many, but - here's the rub - different people value different ones). Moreover, many of the current web apps are standalone apps and thus represent an unwelcome retreat to the fragmented world of Office 1.0. Finally, the apps are immature and may change dramatically or even disappear tomorrow - not a strong selling point for the corporate market.
There's another thing about connectivity, and it's going to be true for a long while yet: travel. Say I fly to Europe, or Asia. I might well want to do some work on the way. If I rely on "Web 2.0" apps, I'm stuffed: there's no connectivity in the air, and there's not likely to be any anytime soon. There is power though, on an awful lot of carriers. Which means that I can work if my tools reside on my laptop.
If they reside in the cloud? Not so much. Until they get that teleportation thing working, expect to see Office on the laptops of the traveling business guy.
Chris Pirillo asks some good questions about Microsoft's direction with the Zune:
I don’t get it. Should I be using Napster, URGE, or Zune? Should I be using the Clix or the Zune? Should I be using Windows Media Player 11 or the Zune Marketplace software? There are too many choices, many of which are not interoperable, coming to me from the same company: Microsoft . Instead of simplifying the market, they’ve made it slightly more complicated with Zune (and likely pissed off countless partners in the process).
If you partnered with MS in the music space recently, that pain you feel is from the stick they just beat you with. Contrast this with Apple, which has a nice, simple message: iPod/iTunes. Someone at Microsoft failed Branding 101.
Technorati Tags: Zune
Travis Griggs has been hired to join our Smalltalk development staff:
Starting September 25th, I won't be able to consider myself an "extra" to the Cincom Smalltalk development process any more. I'll be a real live employee working on the inside, rubbing elbows with, and learning a lot from a very talented team of people. I am very excited about this opportunity. It's a good opportunity for me, and sort of an obvious end game after 15 years of very active Object/VisualWorks involvement.
This is great news for all of us at Cincom - Travis is a great guy. He'll be at OOPSLA this fall, so say "hi" if you see him there. Welcome!
Oh, if you want the lowdown on "Extra" up in the title, read Travis' post :)
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
So I was browsing my Congressman's website, and I ran across a link to the "New Direction" document his party is pushing out. Curious, I decided to take a look. Here's the full URL:
What would possess you to put up a Word Document for download? Heck, as bad as the resulting HTML is, Word has been able to save to HTML format for awhile now. Who's the bright guy who made that call?
John Duimovich says everything that needs to be said about the new closure support coming to Java soonish:
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Unreachable Clause. It exists as certainly as do generics, primitive types, exceptions and inner classes, and you know that they are bound to give to your code its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Unreachable Clause! It would be as dreary as if there were no
java.lang.ObjectSmalltalk. There would be no childlike faith in type systems, no runtime errors, no exceptions to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, no programming joy. The eternal light which complex type systems fills in programmer's heads would be extinguished.
Heh. Read the rest :)
Technorati Tags: java
Not to be outdone by Apple's big ipod announcement, Microsoft is reportedly getting ready to take the wraps off Zune
Anyone else noticed the obvious disparity in marketing skill? The September 12 Apple announcement was heavily anticipated, while Microsoft's Zune announcement is a back page story.
Unlike Sony, Nintendo looks to have set themselves reachable goals for the Wii launch. I grabbed this from ExtremeTech:
Nintendo's Wii will ship November 19 and retail for $250 if a report by The New York Times (by way of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer -- who appears to have leaked the story early, as it hasn't shown up on the New York Times webpage, yet) turns out to be legit.
Additionally, the report details that Nintendo expects to ship four million units worldwide by the end of the year (it does not specify whether that is the calendar or fiscal year). For $250, consumers won't just be getting the Wii-system, however. From the report:
Nintendo intends to announce today that every Wii will come with a game compilation called Wii Sports -- including tennis, golf, baseball and bowling -- meant to show off the machine's intuitive controls.
Since Nintendo isn't trying to bundle a bunch of new components, they should be able to hit that date. With the $250 price tag, I think they'll really hit the sweet spot of disposable income at the holiday season.
We have a roadmap published on the Wiki, but I'd like to take a look at one of the areas that we are focusing on: ease of deployment. What I'd like to do is ask our community to rank a few things:
- Ability to ship a Cincom Smalltalk application as a DLL/Shared lib
- Easier integration of C libraries
- Easier creation of a Smalltalk runtime image/executable
Of those three things, which one most needs work? I have my view of the relative importance of them, but I'd really like to know what the Smalltalk developer community thinks. Either add a comment, or drop me a line.
The Yankees have the sort of problem most teams would kill for: more good players than there are spots to play them in. Matsui and Sheffield have been out for months, but both are back now. Their replacements have helped power the team to the commanding lead it has now, so - where to put them?
Technorati Tags: yankees
Wired reports that iTunes 7 DRM is already cracked:
The latest version of Hymn can already remove DRM protection from songs purchased from the iTunes 7 store to enable playback on non-iPod players.
So let me get this straight: DRM irritates paying customers, and prevents them from moving their music around as they want to. Bad actors can move music around at will. So....
From a marketing perspective, exactly whose needs are met by DRM? The customer? No. The seller? No. Who then? RIAA members too stupid to read, perhaps?
This would be funnier - if it weren't so close to the mindset of the RIAA and MPAA:
"The great thing about our product is that it puts an end to all those troublesome issues that can arise when so-called content is mixed in with valuable DRM," said Microsoft representative Christopher Dixon .
"We have found that it is easier if we remove the superfluous content part that has traditionally been included in digital downloads. This is DRM that works."
File under sadly true...
Technorati Tags: humor
Cingular should have picked a better error message when they decided to start filtering out references to Engadget in their forums:
Oh, Cingular. We know you're pissed at us -- you stopped returning our phone calls a while ago after we posted that product roadmap we got our hands on -- but banning all mention of our name, as well as our URL, from your user forums is a little cheap and heavy-handed, don't you think? Guess you don't want your users making informed decisions about your service. Anyway, we must be doing something right, because here's the message users get when trying to post anything to Cingular's customer forums with the word "engadget" in it:
The message body contains the following prohibited content: 'Engadget' You must remove this content before submitting your post.
That just makes them look lame. You have to wonder about the brain wattage of the genius at Cingular behind that...
There's a fair bit of piling on Joel Spolsky this morning - I had a go at him here, after seeing Avi Bryant's post. This morning, there's a lot more - Bob Congdon, John Lam, DHH, and finally, Jeff Atwood, who asks (after a long list of Joel's most insane posts:
All of this makes me wonder: has Joel Spolsky jumped the shark?
I think there's a simpler explanation for this. Based on the success of his company, I very much doubt that Joel is an "in the trenches" developer anymore. He started the long march into the ranks of the formerly technical awhile ago, and now he's fully there - complete with idiosyncratic ideas based on out of date information.
It's clear that Joel knows his stuff when he talks management, product management, and marketing. It's less clear that he has anything useful to say about the practice of code production. That's not a bad thing - it simply means that he's no longer doing that work. Maybe it's time he recognized that.
Here's a question: who's paying for the bandwidth upgrade that YouTube just got?
"We selected Level 3 because we needed a carrier with a highly advanced, stable, scalable network and a service portfolio that would enable us to manage the magnitude of growth that we continue to experience with more than 100 million videos being watched per day on our site," said Steve Chen, chief technology officer and co-founder at YouTube. YouTube has been one of the Web's breakout hits, hitting the spotlight late last year with the popularity of the "Lazy Sunday" video from Saturday Night Live's Adam Samberg and Chris Parnell (which was later "reclaimed" by NBC and moved to its site). YouTube's subsequent popularity has led to substantial bandwidth requirements, estimated by some reports to cost up to $1 million a month.
Note the comment about NBC reclaiming popular content. I still don't know what the heck the business model for YouTube is, or how they intend to keep paying the bandwidth bills. Sure, they have tons of viewers. Monetizing that is an entirely different question though, and thus far, I just haven't seen anything.
I'll go back to something Jason Calacanis let slip on a Gillmor Gang podcast awhile back, too - if a big player were to buy YouTube, then the mother of all lawsuits would fall on them (copyright infringement) about a nanosecond after the deal was closed.
Update: John Dvorak made a similar point on August 30.
This is interesting - apparently, you can execute a "super super" (starting as far up the chain as you like) in VisualWorks. Eliot Miranda posted this in comp.lang.smalltalk:
perform: selector withArguments: anArray startingAbove: aBehavior "Send the receiver the message indicated by the arguments, starting the lookup in the superclass of aBehavior. The argument selector is the selector of the message. The arguments of the message are the elements of anArray. Invoke messageNotUnderstood: if the selector is not understood by the receiver. Fail the primitive if aBehavior is not the class of anObject or any of its superclasses, or if anArray is not an Array with the same number of elements as the number of arguments expected by the looked-up method." <primitive: 515 errorCode: ec> ^self primitiveFailed
So to test that out, I defined a small hierarchy:
Object Grandpa Dad Son
Each implements a method #foo, which prints to Transcript, telling me who got executed. So, I ran these in a workspace:
son := Son new. son foo son perform: #foo withArguments: #() startingAbove: Son. son perform: #foo withArguments: #() startingAbove: Dad
As expected, the first prints the result from class Son. The second executes the one from class Dad, while the last line executes the one from class Grandpa. Kind of neat, but this is definitely a dangerous hack to rely on - especially if your runtime can have new classes inserted into a hierarchy via dynamic updates.
Technorati Tags: cst
Joel’s wrong. Yes, Ruby is slow, and yes, that has to do with Ruby’s naive implementation of method dispatch, but no, it’s simply not true that you can “never get something compiled down” to the point where it’s fast enough. A proper implementation of a duck typed language will get method calls down to a single jump plus a single compare, 95% of the time. There’s no vtable indirection needed, which means that it’s generally faster than C++, because branch prediction works and the pipeline doesn’t stall.
In general, Smalltalk can do message dispatch faster than C++. Read the rest of Avi's post for a complete explanation.
Hey look - researchers have discovered the blatantly obvious: air travel helps spread flu:
Scientists have found what they call the first real evidence that restricting air travel can delay the spread of flu -- a finding that could influence government plans for battling the next influenza pandemic.
Air travel has long been suspected of playing a role in flu's gradual spread around the globe each year, but yesterday, Boston researchers said they finally have documented it: The drop in air travel after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks seemed to delay that winter's flu season by about two weeks.
In other news, the same crack research team announced that the sun rises in the east.
Technorati Tags: flu
There's more proof that a negative PR event can't just be brushed away - HP's Patricia Dunnis stepping down:
Hewlett-Packard Co. said Tuesday that Patricia Dunn will step down as chairwoman of the computer and printer maker in January amid a widening scandal involving a possibly illegal probe into media leaks. She will be succeeded by CEO Mark Hurd.
Hurd will retain his existing positions as chief executive and president and Dunn will remain as a director after she relinquishes the chair on Jan. 18.
"I am taking action to ensure that inappropriate investigative techniques will not be employed again. They have no place in HP, " Hurd said in a statement.
This is fairly fast for a large organization to move, but there was still the requisite round of denials and explanations from Dunn first (which only made things worse). It's a new world of PR now - 10 years ago, you only had to deal with the trade press (and maybe the general media if the firestorm got big enough). Now, there's the whole "Army of Davids" thing - which may not be enough to effect change all by itself, but can certainly generate enough heat and light to get the notice of everyone else.
I'm in the process of putting together a new dev build of BottomFeeder. This should lead to a quick release of 4.3 - there were a number of bugs in 4.2 that I'd like to roll up into a general release. I'll have the dev build up later today, and - if everything looks good - roll a new release this week.
Update: the new dev build is up
This is interesting news - Sun has fully open sourced Strongtalk, including the VM. From the site:
Strongtalk development was halted before it was fully productized, so considerable work remains to polish-up Strongtalk before it is ready to be used in real-world applications. But with the release of the virtual-machine source code, a whole new world of possibilities has opened up. What will become of Strongtalk? Now, the answer is finally in the community's hands!
I'm sure that our VM engineers will have a look, but there's no telling what can be gleaned from this.
The new version of our website is now live - if you navigate here or here, you'll land on it. There's an RSS feed available, so you can follow changes in your aggregator as well. We expect to have more CSS options for the site soon - in the meantime, enjoy the upgrade.
Update: Fixed the RSS link
Even though downloaded movies cost just as much as regular dvds, Amazon won’t let you watch the movies on your DVD player. Unbox allows you to back-up downloaded movies on blank DVDs, but the backups are encypted to prevent you from doing anything useful with them. Amazon has taken what was potentially the most compelling feature of Unbox and removed it from the service. This is classic uninnovation.
And how does Amazon want you to watch your expensive downloaded movies on your new HDTV? Amazon’s only suggestion is to buy a clumsy Windows Media Center PC and use an antequated s-video cable to connect it to your television. Welcome to picture quality circa 1995.
The bigger problem is that most PC's are nowhere near the TV, so running an S-Video cable is kind of pointless to begin with. Things get even worse - the license agreement they ship has some pretty egregious clauses - for instance, you have to agree to apply any and all patches Amazon ships for Unbox. Amazon also reserves the right to delete all your downloads if you uninstall Unbox (and uninstallation is no picnic - see Tom Merrit for that mess). To cap it all off, they can change your terms of service at any time. So, I can pay the same amount that a DVD costs me down at Target, only the DVD from Target will play on any device I own. This is one of the most stupidly crippled things I've ever heard of. Somewhere in the bowels of Amazon, there's a smart guy who made that point at a meeting 12 months ago - maybe if he or she is lucky, they'll have a chance to say "I told you so".
Ahh, it's headlines like this that I like to see:
That's how things should be at this time of year :)
Recently I started to work on a Smalltalk project using Gemstone as ODBMS. Gemstone goes one step further than other ODBMS systems like db4o. Gemstone does not even require an explicit query or storage operation of your objects into the DB. It is enough to make your business object subclass of PersistentObject such that it will automatically be stored and read. In this way, only minimal coding overhead is required enabling object persistence (almost) for free. However, for providing this powerful mechanism the database and the virtual machine need to be closely linked together.
With the integration of LINQ into .NET Microsoft is going to dramatically increase the value and the productivity of .NET. Nevertheless, I am wondering if Microsoft has the intention to develop a native ODBMS technology for .NET in the near future since, being the producer of the .NET framework, it has the opportunity to integrate a powerful object oriented database engine providing the same features as Gemstone does for Smalltalk.
Gemstone is the simplest thing that could possibly work for object persistence - it's a Smalltalk implementation and a database, so you can drive your objects right there on the server. What if you have a well entrenched RDBMS as the "database of record"? Well, Gemstone can act as an application server/cache in front of said DB, and drop data to it on a regular basis - they have RDBMS connectors for that kind of thing. There's a non-commercial version of Gemstone right on our NC CD, so you can download it and try it out.
Oh boy, my dishwasher has decided to take up smoking - again. Last time was an epic saga of marginal performance by Sears repair. The same symptoms happened this time, with smoke pouring out of the front panel. I'm fairly certain that it's no longer under warranty, but I'm on the phone now to verify that. If it is under warranty, I'll have to wait for the part again. If it's not, we'll be buying a new dishwasher. Maybe we can get something quieter...
The RIAA's scattershot strategy of suing anything that moves ran into a snag last week - they found a plaintiff that was unwilling to to pay his lunch money to make them go away:
In Elektra v. Wilke, the Chicago RIAA case in which defendant Paul Wilke has moved for summary judgment, the RIAA has filed a motion for "expedited discovery", alleging that it does not have sufficient evidence to withstand Mr. Wilke's motion. The RIAA's lawyer said
"Plaintiffs cannot at this time, without an opportunity for full discovery present by affidavit facts essential to justify their opposition to Defendant's motion.
Here, let me translate: "We didn't think we'd need any evidence. We intended to extort a few thousand dollars from this guy, and move along to the next victim. Since when do we need actual facts?"
Scoble hyped Amazon's Unbox the other day, and has now linked to a bunch of deeper (and not positive) reviews:
A couple of days ago I said that Amazon might be the fearsome Microsoft killer we were expecting Google to be. But after reading the latest reviews of Amazon’s new Unboxed, I should take that back.
Follow the link to Scoble's blog for the reviews - the one that sticks in my head was Friday's podcast from Buzz Out Loud - Tom Merrit was livid over the way Unbox works. He had a few large complaints:
- The files that come down play only in the Amazon player
- Amazon's software runs at startup whether you want it to or not
- Amazon's software tries to phone home at startup (probably for updates)
His irritation came not with the phoning home, but with the fact that it did so without telling him. The DRM is what makes it useless though; why download something that can only be played in one viewer? I have a large scree TV; I probably want to use it. This is yet another example of the MPAA standing between customers and what they want, and it's not going to help their sales.
Update: Tom Merrit goes into great detail on the problems here, on his blog
Tim Bray has been looking for a new car, and has come to a conclusion on the UI issue - i.e, whether it's easier to switch computers, or cars:
The computers are, by and large, an easier switch than the cars. Yes, the pedals and steering wheel and shifter are consistent, but getting the windshield wipers to do what you want is a research project on every car, as is setting the interior lighting and adjusting the audio for bass, treble, and so on, and a bunch of other minor functions that you need to do all the time. But cutting and pasting and moving files and editing text and browsing the web and reading mail and improving photos and so on, these days that’s all much of a muchness, whatever computer you’re sitting in front of.
I have to say that I agree. I'm not shopping for a new car, but I rent them on travel a fair bit. A decade ago, it took me less time to get out of the rental lot. Now, I always make sure to spend a few minutes locating things like the seat adjustment, the radio controls, the wipers, defroster... you get the picture. You might wonder about the radio, but in my experience, even those are harder to deal with than they used to be.
Time for my weekly look at the logs - BottomFeeder downloads were brisk, at a pace of 232 per day:
Those are nice numbers - I plan to push a new release with all the bug fixes shortly. The HTML accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Firefox edged up a bit. Finally, the RSS accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||8.3%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||4.1%|
|RSS 2 Email||1%|
And that wraps another week - the diversity of aggregation tools is still quite large.
On my way out to ESUG, I ran into bozo security at BWI - including being told that the list of banned items is classified (never mind that you can view that list online, here). Well, not to be outdone, the security folks at Heathrow have also removed their capacity for thought.
Consider two things:
- In Prague, the fellow in line in front of me had a huge bottle of orange soda in his laptop bag. No problem - on the plane to the UK he went. Apparently, bad actors only care about flights between the US and the UK
- At Heathrow, I arrived with my laptop bag and a small paper bag. The bag held my headphones and camera bag, because I didn't want to crush either one. Nope: one bag limit. I could carry my book, drape the headphones around my neck, and stuff the camera into my laptop bag, so long as I only had one bag. What that did to improve security, I have no idea.
Here's the really stupid part about all this. The bozo security checks generate huge lines outside the secure area. What do you call a huge mass of people that have been herded into a central area, where there's no security check? I don't know what the morons at TSA call it, or what the equivalent set of morons in the UK call it, but I call it a target waiting for a bad actor to notice it.
Awhile back, Troy sang the praises of Fair Trade Coffee. At the time, I expressed cynicism along these lines: If a commodity can have its market price raised by being tagged as somehow fairer, the motivation to game the system (in order to scheme even more profit from the commodity in question) would be overwhelming.
Well, color me unsurprised by the story in the Financial Times this morning: "Ethical Coffee Workers paid below market wages":
"Ethical" coffee is being produced in Peru, the world's top exporter of Fairtrade coffee, by labourers paid less than the legal minimum wage
I'm shocked, shocked to find out that there's gaming of the system going on. meanwhile, the Fairtrade people are utterly unwilling to deal with reality:
As the board member of one Peruvian Fairtrade-certified coffee producer told the FT: "No certifier can guarantee they will purchase 100 per cent of a cooperative's production,, so how can they guarantee that every bag will be produced according to their standards?"
I seem to recall making that point, and then being roundly criticized for it :) What Fairtrade mainly accomplishes is this: it provides a way to add markup at the consumer end without having to actually do anything at the producer end. The bottom line: if you buy Fairtrade coffee so that you can feel better about it, don't. Just buy the non-Fairtrade stuff, because all you're really doing is providing extra margin to the sellers. In fact, it's worse than that; you're providing them a huge incentive to screw you and the farmers over. To make that point more brutally obvious:
The FT has been told of Fairtrade coffee being planted in protected national forest land in the northern Peruvian jungle.
Using global satellite mapping, a Canadian NGO found that about 1/5th of all coffee production in one Fairtrade certified association was illegally planted in protected virgin rainforest.
The HP Board's probe snagged two CNet reporters along with the board members. meanwhile, I heard on the Buzz out Loud podcast (for September 8th) that Patricia Dunn was "shocked" to find out about the pretexting to get private data. Sure, sure - she's shocked in exactly the same way that the police chief in Casablanca was "shocked" to find gambling going on at Rick's Cafe.
Just how stupid does Patricia Dunn think we are?
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