This will make my friend Mike happy - WKRP's 1st season is hitting DVD. He had mentioned that the holdup was due to payout issues over all the songs that were playing (in full or in part) during the episodes. Whether that was the issue or not, it's out there for order.
I finished "Future Hype" this morning on the train ride up here to Cambridge - it was a decent book, and a fast read. The author's main point: don't believe all the hype you hear about how things are moving so much faster now than they ever have been.
My history reading has made me skeptical of that idea, and one of the examples given by Seidensticker is communications. Yes, the internet is an advance: but consider earlier communications advances, and where they took people. When the net came online, we already had news traveling around the globe nearly instantly, via phone, television, and radio. Now go back to the early 19th century, before the telegraph was invented - communications took days, weeks, or even months. Ambassadors back then had much more power and latitude than they have now; when the young US sent an official to deal with the Barbary pirates in 1805, he wasn't going to get new instructions from Washington for months - he was left to his own best judgement. In 1858, there was a transatlantic cable - suddenly, the President could give his foreign (at least in Europe) ambassadors new instructions anytime he wanted.
Consider that upheaval. Just within the foreign service ranks of the various powerful nations of the day: foreign office staff went from being powers unto themselves to being message carriers in an instant. When the internet really came into its own in the early 90's, it didn't have anything like that impact.
The book is filled with similar anecdotes, and should reset any thinking person's notions of how fast change is happening. The early industrial revolution, for instance, changed the lives of the average Westerner a lot more than anything that's happened in the last 50 years - look at the changes taking place right now in places like India and China to see a modern day example of that.
Technorati Tags: technology
ValleyWag is reporting that InfoWorld is going to shutter their print edition:
InfoWorld, the long-standing weekly magazine to which enterprise technology startups made a dutiful pilgrimage, is to shut down, according to a newsletter report. The title, owned by the IDG publishing group, will continue to operate as a web news site; but the print magazine, which carried celebrity columnists such as Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe, is dead after nearly three decades. Tech titles have been the first, in the magazine industry, to fall to web competition. Red Herring magazine, as we've reported, can't compete with Valley insider blogs such as Techcrunch and Gigaom.
I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I realize that the print edition costs a lot to produce (and is mainly advertiser supported - I get my copy free). On the other hand, I like getting the print edition - I rarely go to the websites for things like InfoWorld, ComputerWorld (et. al.). I read some of their stories, but only the ones that go by in my news reader. With the print edition - like a regular newspaper - I read stories I wouldn't necessarily be looking for.
Sadly, my interest in grazing the print edition just isn't part of a big enough market to justify the ongoing print editions. I don't pay for InfoWorld, and I don't currently pay for any newspapers, either - so my inchoate desire for hardcopy is just that.
Technorati Tags: media
If I were superstitious, I'd say that someone was sending me a message. Blazing hot hotel room, bad WiFi. Then, something truly weird happened to me last night. I got up to go to the bathroom - last night's airplane dinner was not sitting well with me - and then I found myself lying on the floor, confused. I have no memory of falling down - I must have passed out. I came away from that with a scrape on the forehead and a sore front tooth (only thing I can figure is that I must have landed on it).
I had something similar happen to me when I was very sick as a teenager - but that time, I woke up on the way to the floor (and believe me, that was no fun). This time, I have no memory of passing out at all, nor of hitting the floor. When I woke up, I was disoriented enough to not be sure about where I was. Fortunately, everything seems fine this morning.
The only thing I can think of is that dinner - just before it happened, I had fairly intense discomfort in my lower abdomen. I sure hope the rest of the trip goes better than this...
Well, the Sheraton Heathrow has two things going against it right now - mostly non-existent connectivity, and the temperature of room is sauna-like. Not a great start to the trip :/
Glenn Reynolds on falling CD sales:
The music industry blames piracy, but other factors -- from the ability to just buy the songs you like, and not a CD full of filler, to competition from other things like games and the Internet, to the fact that releases tend to suck more than they used to -- seem more significant.
I brought this topic up the other day, and I think I had it right then - the business is moving back to a singles model. The "album oriented" period is coming to an end, and it's a painful adjustment - for studios and for artists.
This doesn't mean that the album will go away; but it does mean that album sales will no longer be the driver for the industry.
I'm about to board my flight, so it's time to shut down and pack everything back up. As usual, I'm completely *cough* ready *cough* for my Sunday event - I'll be doing last minute preparation on the plane :) I also bought two books that look interesting:
- "1491", which looks at pre-Columbian America as a more complex thing than we have been taught
- "Future Hype", which looks to debunk the "things are changing faster than ever" meme.
Technorati Tags: books
Getting WiFi access here at O'Hare in Chicago is easy enough - finding a place to plug the laptop in - not so much. With so many of us lugging laptops around, would it be too much to ask to provide a few more outlets?
|I'm up at an ungodly hour - must mean it's time to get on an airplane. I'm headed to the UK today, and will be at SPA 2007 this coming week.|
Blogspot - the free platform tied to Blogger - is among the top doorway domains for spam. Some 74% of Blogspot blogs are used as splogs.
It's not just BlogSpot - there are worse ones out there. Check out the whole report.
Let’s assume that there are 20,000 people on Twitter who have added Starbucks as a Friend in order to get a few promotions a week - e.g. a free cookie with your coffee, a free tall coffee, etc. If Twitter charged Starbucks a few cents per tweet per follower, the revenue from Starbucks might looks something like this:
10 tweets (promotions) per week
$.05 cents per tweet for each follower (maybe more???)
that’s $10 K per week or about $40K per month
I have no idea whether they are thinking along those lines, but they should be.
Update: This needs to come up from the comments to this post:
For example, what if Starbucks put up signs in their shops: "give us your mobile number if you want to receive text alerts of our newest specials"? Suddenly, they can reach most of the same people without the middleman's markup. I think the people behind Twitter have not really thought about just how far disintermediation has gone already, or how far it is likely to go in the future.
So it's back to my first thought - the Twitter business model is "get bought".
Technorati Tags: Twitter
In the good ol' United States of America, the receiver pays the SMS bill. In Canada, Australia, Europe and I believe much of Asia, the sender pays. For Twitter , this may add up fast.
This brings to mind something I heard on last week's TWIT - Jason Calacanis called in, and mentioned an enormous bill for text messages (it was over $200 in the space of a week, I think). Now translate that to the bills arriving at Twitter headquarters for all the SMS notifications they get from people (and possibly the ones they send, if they support international SMS). Either way, that's a lot of money bleeding out.
The only business model I can spot for Twitter is "get bought by Google/Yahoo/Microsoft".
Wired notes that CD sales have dropped 20% compared to the same quarter last year (and the ongoing trend is a steadily downward one):
judging from sales statistics for the first three months of 2007, the downward trend is now accelerating with fearsome speed, with sales of compact discs in the first quarter of 2007 dropping 20% compared to the same quarter last year.
The music industry reaction to this is that digital sales are both salvation and damnation. They would like to translate the business model that's been in use for CD's and LP's onto the new world, but what's actually happening is a return to the 50's and 60's - the single is back.
This bothers both executives and artists. Artists have become used to the idea of producing an entire album as an artistic "statement", and executives have gotten used to the revenue stream produced by full album sales. iTunes threw a spanner into that set of gears, and they are still in denial over it. In a very real sense, the DRM fight is a symptom of the larger problem - the unwillingness to accept the change in business conditions. The RIAA wants to keep making saddles while we no longer need them.
This is good news:
SCI FI Channel has increased its episode order for the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica to 22 from the original 13, including a special two-hour extended episode that will air during the fourth quarter of this year and be released on DVD by Universal Studios Home Entertainment thereafter.
I hope the hole left by Starbuck's death is filled though; the show seems to be meandering at the moment.
Scoble has an interesting post up on ad relevance and paid results - and it looks like Google is going with a "less is more" approach on the ad front. The part that grabbed my eye is how much more relevant the paid results were on Google (and I've noticed this in my searches as well - when I don't know a company's website URL, the Google search usually gives it to me as the first result in both the main and paid results).
All of which tells me that Microsoft and Yahoo still have a lot of catching up to do in this space.
Michael and I have been working on the Twitter client, and getting various fixes and enhancements in. We added support for Proxy servers today, and (at least on Windows), got international character display support. Here's how it looks right now:
It's a neat little project - we intend to make the message display more useful - that's one of the next tasks.
Technorati Tags: Twitter
Nick Carr has an eye for the obvious today:
In another sign of what the future holds for Web 2.0 in business, the Forrester survey found a clear preference among CIOs for buying a full suite of Web 2.0 tools from a large, established vendor. 74% of CIOs said they'd be more interested in investing in Web 2.0 if all the tools were offered as a suite, and 71% said they'd prefer the tools to be "offered by a major incumbent vendor like Microsoft or IBM [rather than] smaller specialist firms like Socialtext, NewsGator, MindTouch, and others." Web 2.0 startups hoping to make big inroads in the enterprise market will face some big challenges, particularly as the larger vendors release their own suites of tools or incorporate them into existing products. You can bypass the CIO on a small scale, but it's difficult to bypass the CIO when it comes time for a company to standardize on a particular product and vendor.
For established companies, I'd say "well, duh". They say that for the same reason that they keep buying WebSphere and Microsoft Office. The entry point for the smaller guys isn't with the big, established firms - it's with smaller outfits who are willing to take a chance on something that's either cheaper or offers higher productivity - or both.
Sounds like the folks behind "Galactica" are planning to have an actual ending to the series:
"Like many other serial dramas, such as 'Lost' or 'The Shield,' these series have a beginning, a middle and an end," says an insider at Universal, the studio that produces "Galactica."
Hmm - so that will fuel speculation - do they end it at the point where they find Earth? Do they end it with the Cylons wiping humanity out? There are any number of interesting endings, if they are willing to go out with a bang.
Doc Searls points to this article, which explains in complete detail why newspapers - both dead tree and online - are busily dying. Like the recording and video industry, newspapers simply aren't in synch with the new business models, and are desperately trying to cling to their existing ones. It won't be a pretty thing to watch as the screams die off in the distance.
Technorati Tags: newspapers
Michael is asking for name suggestions for our little project - in the meantime, I've been slogging forward on the application. Oh - if you want to follow my truly exciting stream of test messages, you can go here, to my Twitter stream. Here's how it looks now that I've laid the UI out a bit better:
Still not a thing of beaty, but at least I have scrollbars now :) I also got access to the friends list working:
That's about it for now - I'll see what Michael has made of it in the morning.
Technorati Tags: Twitter
I am pleased to announce that Squeak will have its own booth at the Smalltalk Solutions show. I have just signed the booth agreement, and faxed it back to the it360.ca show management.
I got the idea for a Squeak booth by attending the Toronto Linux Users Group pre-show meeting in February. I figured if they could get a free booth as a non-profit, then so ought we.
The more the merrier!
We need a better name for the project, but we've got a (very basic) UI up for our little Twitter application. After I got the basic domain done yesterday, Michael added a UI and some basic network connectivity - we can now specify an update interval, and display the public Twitter stream:
The UI leaves a lot to be desired at present; the timestamps should be lined up, and you should be able to drill down into the user specifics for each item. It's a start, though, and you can load it yourself - grab the Twitter bundle from the Public Store. Volunteers welcome - and yes, it is a Widgetry UI :)
Technorati Tags: development
I may be skeptical about Twitter, but it does have a lot of buzz at the moment. So - I've created a small domain model that can create objects from the XML status file that Twitter generates. If you want to try it out, load Twitter from the Public Store, and then try this:
client := HttpClient new. contents := (client get: 'http://twitter.com/statuses/public_timeline.xml') contents. parser := XML.XMLParser new. parser validate: false. xml := parser parse: contents readStream ^Twitter.Constructor from: xml.
That's all it does right now - if you inspect the result, you'll get a collection of Status objects (each with a user). Michael and I intend to build a UI for it (the goal being a small notification application). If you're interested in helping out, go ahead and load that and have a look.
Late last week Steve Ballmer gave an speech at Stanford in which he stated that Google is a "one trick pony" - that trick being search, of course.
Here's the thing - if I use the same level of evaluation, Microsoft is a two trick pony: Windows and Office. Sure, MS does other things, and so does Google. If you look just at revenue though, MS relies on those two things pretty heavily. Whether they are safer bets over the long term than Google's ad revenue is something else entirely.
Technorati Tags: Windows
I added the static resources capability to the server quite awhile ago, when I migrated the Cincom Smalltalk site over to Silt. I hadn't really exposed that functionality beyond that one site though - and that changed today. If you look in the sidebar, you'll see a little "About Me" link - which I've linked to a small bio page. Any of the bloggers here can add that kind of "static" resource now, and edit it via the admin pages after logging in.
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
Charles points to the March 28th NY STUG meeting, with Panu Viljamaa:
In this presentation Panu will talk about Unit-Testing in Smalltalk, including a new simplified "Method-Tests" -API for doing so. He will demonstrate how unit-testing can be made more productive and totally integrated with the open IDE of Smalltalk. This presentation will be a precursor, and a dress-rehearsal for a more comprehensive presentation to be given at Smalltalk Solutions 2007, Toronto.
Sounds like fun - but I'll be in the UK then :)
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
Neopolean and Scoble (in the comments to this post) are having an interesting little slagfest - and I have to say, I think Neopolean has the better argument. Scoble has gotten way, way too deep into the self referential "Web 2.0" Silicon Valley culture, and I think he's having trouble seeing the outside. In particular, he's not seeing the obvious problems with long form online video. I've been interested in a number of his interviews - and haven't listened to any. Why? Because it's way too much trouble to strip the audio myself and load the results on my iPod.
Here's another thing - as much crap as I give MS, I think they'll weather the storm that's about to arrive on the scene (look at the mortgage foreclosure news and the Web 2.0 bubble - something is going to give). The various "Web 2.0" companies with marginal business plans? Not so much.
Technorati Tags: PR
In the midst of a long anti-Scoble ramble, Neopolean makes the same kind of point about online video that I've been making for a long while now:
Nobody consulted me - and nobody should have - but if they had, I would have said to do audio, or even just images with text. A typical news site, but with the Scoble brand. Whatever I may be feeling about him this morning, I'm not going to deny that his name is worth something in this industry.
My guess is that Scoble and co wanted to "get in" on the growing popularity of niche video news sites. The difference is that, when you take a look at what some of the other more successful sites are doing, Scoble's videos are too long (in terms of the bandwidth it takes to serve them up). If you don't have gobs of dough in the bank, then every minute is important. By not editing out the boring bits, the videos are going up as-is, gigantic and all.
Very few people are going to sit at their PC's and watch a 45 minute video - when you see successes in online video, you see short - Ze Frank, RocketBoom - stuff that doesn't take long to consume. Long video just takes up too much time and attention to deal with - and if your answer is "just listen, don't watch", then my answer is "push it out as an audio mp3". Audio is a lot easier to consume than video, and can be consumed when it's too hard (or impossible) to read (a car, out jogging, etc).
Insisting on a video format just because you can is a nice way to increase your bandwidth costs and reduce the potential size of your audience. How that works as a business plan, I'm not sure.
The Grokster case is coming back to haunt us all with the Viacom suit against YouTube. In Grokster, the court held that "inducement" to violate copyright landed you in hot water - which cracked the door open wide enough for Viacom to bring suit - even though YouTube seems to fall into the Safe Harbor provisions of the DMCA. Lessig explains:
The Grokster case thus sent a clear message to lawyers everywhere: You get two bites at the copyright policy-making apple, one in Congress and one in the courts. But in Congress, you need hundreds of votes. In the courts, you need just five.
Viacom has now accepted this invitation from the Supreme Court. The core of its case centers on the “safe harbor” provision of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The provision, a compromise among a wide range of interests, was intended to protect copyright owners while making it possible for Internet businesses to avoid crippling copyright liability. As applied to YouTube, the provision immunizes the company from liability for material posted by its users, so long as it takes steps to remove infringing material soon after it is notified by the copyright owner.
While this mess is being litigated, no one can be sure what is and isn't allowable under safe harbor. I'm afraid that the chaos Lessig predicts (read the rest of his column) is going to come about.
Technorati Tags: law
Martin Fowler explains how things are different when server volume reaches epic scale:
A couple of years ago I was talking to a couple of friends of mine who were doing some work at eBay. It's always interesting to hear about the techniques people use on high volume sites, but perhaps one of the most interesting tidbits was that eBay does not use database transactions.
It's a fascinating look at how common conventions have to be re-examined when traffic reaches certain extremely high levels.
|I've just finished Ernst Jünger's "Storm of Steel" - he was a highly decorated German veteran of the first world war. Most of the books I've read about that (or any other) war have been strategic or tactical overviews; this is a personal look at how an average soldier's days were spent at the front. It's very explicit in terms of the horror - the author describes the effects of machine guns and high explosives in complete detail.|
The book is neither anti-war nor pro-war; it's more matter of fact than that. None of us who live today can really imagine what life was like for the trench soldiers of that war, but this book gets you as close to understanding as is possible. If casual discussion of carnage bothers you, don't read this book - but I came away from it with a better idea of what my grandfather went through with the AEF.
I just went through the static resources this server uses, and made sure that all of them are being served by Apache rather than the Smalltalk server. The Smalltalk server now handles only the dynamic loads; all the static resources (images, mostly) are handled by Apache. This falls under "best tool for the job", and is something I probably should have done a long time ago :)
|I'll be speaking at SPA 2007 - on Sunday, March 25th I'll be giving a six hour "Intro to Smalltalk" tutorial. We'll be using VW non-commercial (version 7.4.1), and doing a pretty immersive piece of learning. After that, I can relax and just attend the show - it's always been a fun conference in the past, so I'm looking forward to it.|
Yesterday, there was a complaint in the VWNC mailing list about the sudden surges in items from the public store feed - whenever someone pushes a project out, there's often a number of versions of the same package/bundle that hit the feed all at once. Holger Kleinsorgen, the original author, fixed that problem with an update - now, multiple new versions of the same item will be listed in one RSS item. That should cut down on the artificial flood.
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
Phishing has taken the next step up (or down, depending on how you want to look at it) the food chain: fake blogs as a source for malware:
Fortinet gives examples of the sites, including one for a supposed fan of the Honda CR450 motor car, which attempts to infect visitors with the Wonka Trojan. In another, the fake blog redirects visitors to a store front purporting to be Pharmacy Express, a phishing site that has turned up in many spam emails distributed by the Stration worm.
"These are not legitimate blogs that were compromised. They appear to be deliberately set up to promote phishing, which is against our terms of service. We are investigating, and blogs found to include malicious code or promote phishing will be deleted," Google said in a statement to CNET.
Splogs as a source of spam links are nothing new, but this takes things to a new level - especially given the ease of creating search feeds that bring these things directly to IE, Firefox, Safari, or Opera.
Well, either downloads cratered last week, or there's a logging
BottomFeeder downloads look like an average of 16 per day, which
is about 10x less than normal. The sorry details:
It helps when you actually download all the correct log files, instead of just the data for a few hours :) As it happens, BottomFeeder averaged 217 downloads per day. Whew :)
On top of that is the 25-26 downloads a day I'm getting from the CNet based downloads. Anyway, let's see about the rest of the data, starting with the HTML accesses:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Traffic for the HTML pages looks normal, except that Planet Smalltalk seems to have stopped being a bad bot
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||5.7%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||4.6%|
Wow - I guess IE7 is having an impact - my subscription numbers rose last week, and IE rose with them.
As if to make sure we remember when the calendar changes over, winter took a (hopefully final) shot at us last night - these shots don't show a lot snow, but what's there is pretty solid ice. And, my driveway has a nice non-melting northern exposure :)
I recorded this week's episode during the week of March 5th, in Cincinnati. ObjectStudio 8 is about to enter open beta, with the upcoming release of Cincom Smalltalk - so it seemed like a good time to get Andreas Hiltner and Mark Grinnell in a room to talk about it. Joining me was Arden Thomas, our field application engineer.