Critical Section

Archive: April 22, 2003

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Tuesday,  04/22/03  12:00 AM

A busy day in the blogosphere...  enjoy!

John Tabin picked up the April 5 issue of le figaro, a French newsmagazine; the cover asks "Iraq, the next Vietnam?"  Talk about crummy timing...

L.T.Smash: Desert Bloom.  "After Friday prayers, a large group of men protested the US military presence.  No one was arrested, tortured, or executed afterwards."

Here's a cool site: How Americans can buy American.  Including extensive lists of French and German companies to boycott...

Ask Jeeves follows Alta Vista and Yahoo and does a search engine redesign.  Competition is good!  But, with Google as the clear leader, the others have to differentiate...  Why would I use Ask Jeeves?  I don't know.

Another terrific day-by-day today.  Becoming a daily habit for me...

Mitch Kapor of Lotus fame has released Chandler, an Open Source PIM.  Can it compete with Outlook?  Who knows, there was a time I didn't think Mozilla could compete with IE, but now I use it all the time...

A busy day for online music:

This is really cool.  Slashdot describes Synapse: "Students at Caltech and Harvard have developed a system that analyzes playlists and learns people's listening patterns.  It then channels its knowledge into generating streams of music that the people themselves would like to listen to."

Speaking of music, MacCentral reports Apple will hold a special event April 28 featuring "announcements that will be music to your ears".  Probably not the rumored acquisition of Universal Music Group, more likely the rumored debut of Apple's online music service.  BTW, Motley Fool has an interesting analysis: American Idle - about the state of the music industry and why Apple and Universal would be a good fit.

NapsterAnd - remember Napster?  Of course you do.  Well, Salon reviews a new book about the rise and fall of Napster, "A file-trading ship of fools".  My brief personal experience with their engineering team confirms - they had a great idea and a great application, but a terrible business.

Real buys  Yep.  $36M for a service (Rhapsody) which took $150M in investment to get started, not a bad deal.

Motorola takes Wi-Fi to the living room.  So does everyone else :)

In a former life I was GM of Intuit's online billpay service...  at the time, consumer adoption was lower than analysts expected, and we said consumer adoption would not really begin until online billpay was "better than free".  Well, C|Net reports Banks are offering sweetners to paying bills online.  This could do it.  And this is why: Banks cash in as more bills are paid online.  We all know someday all bills will be paid online, but will it be in five years, ten, or fifty?

{ I've been paying bills online with Quicken for ten years.  Writing checks is so 1900s. }

Discover reports you can turn anything into oil.  But Steven Den Beste says nope.

Tim Blair thinks the Mac needs one more key.  I agree.  Although the MacOS has better usability than Windows in many ways, the lack of consistent keyboard shortcuts is a defect.  After that, he goes on beyond Zebra!

Robert Scoble keeps describing joining Microsoft as "taking the Red pill".  I don't know.  Microsoft is a great company, no question, but with Windows and Office they are the Matrix.  I actually think joining Microsoft might be "taking the Blue pill".  And I think part of taking the Blue pill is that it makes you think you took the Red pill...



Tuesday,  04/22/03  05:07 PM

As you know, I've been looking for a word which means "a malicious satisfaction in the mispredictions of others".  And here it is:

Fehlervorhersagefreude (fail-or-vor-hair-sock-froid-uh)

The derivation: schadenfreude is a German word made from two German words, schaden ("damage") and freude ("delight").  Schadenfreude means damage-delight.  After consultation with my Mom we decided to start with fehlervorhersage, which means "failure prediction".  Tacking on freude ("delight"), we get fehlervorhersagefreude, or failure-prediction-delight.  Perfect.

I was a reluctant supporter of invading Iraq; I was conflicted by the potential for disaster in not doing anything, vs. the potential for disaster in doing the wrong thing.  Once America began the process, I became a supporter; it seems like you have to pull together in these things.  And I am pleased beyond any expectation that we triumphed militarily so quickly, and at such a low cost in lives.  (H.D.Miller concludes that the war killed fewer Iraqis in a month than Saddam's regime did...)  Of course there are still many ways to fail, but so far so good.  Certainly the dire predictions of some anti-war pundits have not come to pass, and they look downright embarrassing in the rear view mirror:

I just read "Soaking the Rich", a column by Geoffrey Colvin in Fortune about what the war will cost in dollars, and how that cost will be borne.  This column was published on March 31, nine days before the fall of Baghdad, and it estimates that the war would last six months, and cost the average American $260.

Yesterday I relayed John Tabin's note about the April 5 cover of le figaro, which asks, "Iraq, the next Vietnam?"  The San Francisco Bay Guardian asked the same question on April 2.

It isn't important to rub it in (although it may be fun), but what is important is to keep a sense of perspective.  The common mistake of all mispredictions was drawing conclusions too soon.  It was entirely plausible that coalition military action in Iraq could have become a quagmire, but to declare it so after two weeks, as the San Francisco Chronicle did, was hasty.  Similarly, The Statesman has declared the peace to be a quagmire, after only a week.  (The interval for quagmire declaration seems to be diminishing...  time was, a good quagmire took several years to develop...)

I'll try to remember, as I indulge in Fehlervorhersagefreude, that history is written over decades and centuries, not weeks and months.  The mis-prognosticators could still be right.  Nah!


Tuesday,  04/22/03  07:06 PM

Man, is eBay a money machine, or what?  They again beat their numbers, easily, and raised guidance.  Of all the business models to emerge from the dot-com era, theirs is one of the most novel, and clearly the best.  I used to think they couldn't keep up their growth, but it is hard to bet against their track record...

New monitor: SARSWatch.  The graphs on the home page pretty much tell the story.  Nobody can say this virus is under control or even understood yet.  The BBC is reporting the SARS virus is mutating rapidly.  Bad news for would-be vaccine developers, but could be good news for the rest of us; perhaps the virus will become less virulent.  The CDC confirms "we are not out of the woods yet".  They know that in Bejing, they've closed all schools for two weeks.  Scary.

Ralph Peters considers Palestinian Reality in the NYTimes.  "The Arab world is as addicted to blame as any junkie was ever addicted to heroin."  [ via LGF ]

Ken Layne revives the fascinating tale of "that photograph" of the space shuttle Columbia (remember the purple corkscrew?)  Yeah, why haven't we seen it?

VodkaPundit: Hit the road, Jacque.  No more French wine and cheese for him.  (Nor for me, either.  You see how useful the blogosphere can be - I found an American Camembert in the comments.)

Remember the great Wither Apple debate?  Well, John Gruber pretty much nails it in this article; he makes great points about why it would be hard and stupid for Apple to go to Intel, and in the process explains Apple's positioning and strategy.  So be it.  [via No Signal, who also links the cautionary tale of Next, a Steve Jobs company which tried the transition from proprietary to commodity hardware, and failed.]

Speaking of processors architectures (we were, sort of); it's hammer time!  Today AMD released the Opteron.  Of course Tom's Hardware has conducted benchmarks, and finds a dual-Operton dusts a dual-Xeon.  IBM has noticed; these babies will really cook with Linux.  Yeah, if I were Intel I would not enjoy this; the Itaniums live in a different world.  And Microsoft can't be thrilled either - Windows can't take advantage of their 64-bit architecture...

More Napster stuff - Universal and EMI have sued Hummer Winblad, John Hummer, and Hank Barry, alleging that their investment in Napster contributed to widespread Internet piracy.  I totally disagree with the premise and the idea that investors can be sued for investing, but I must say it couldn't happen to a nicer group of VCs :)

Finally - have you noticed how many commercials are widescreen?  Is the programming starting to go that way, too?  Maybe 16:9 is the future of TV.  It sure makes sense for viewing movies.  Although PCs are going to stay 4:3, I would guess...


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visiting Titan
unintelligent design
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second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
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Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
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world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained