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Friday,  02/01/08  10:20 PM

And so making a pass on the internets, we find...

Amazon is buying Audible, the leading publisher of e-books.  Well that makes sense!  Or does it?  Amazon's Kindle is arguably the leading e-book reader (yeah, I know about Sony's Reader, sorry).  So do you want the leading distribution point to own the leading content provider?  I'm not sure that makes for the biggest market.  And both Amazon and Audible need the market to get bigger... 

Microsoft is buying Yahoo.  This means that 1) Yahoo's strategy to create shareholder value did not work, and 2) Microsoft's strategy to create value in its online businesses did not work.  A combination of two huge not-quite-successes; will it equal success?  (I say, no.)  There has been a metric ton of analysis online about the business implications of the deal; John Gruber takes a look at the technical implications.  "Engineering-wise, it’s interesting. Yahoo’s stuff is almost all written in PHP, and runs on FreeBSD and Red Hat Linux servers. I don’t think Microsoft has ever bought - and maintained - a significant software product that wasn’t written against Microsoft technology."  In that aspect it reminds me of the Hotmail deal; Microsoft had a disastrous migration from Linux/sendmail to Windows/Exchange from which they never recovered. 

Bill Burnham says it is a bad deal for Silicon Valley.  "... by swallowing up Yahoo, Microsoft will be removing one of the biggest and most active acquirers of start-ups in Silicon Valley. The intense competition between Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo has arguably been one of the main factors helping drive up M&A activity and prices for internet related start-ups."

I have a personal interest in this deal; my mailbox ole@pacbell.net is presently hosted by Yahoo.  It began ten years ago with Pacific Bell (remember them?) and then Airtouch (remember them?), and then moved to SBC and finally Yahoo.  Now it will be hosted by Microsoft; I just hope they don't change the domain.  If I can't keep the email address, then sayonara; I already own ole.eichhorn@gmail.com.  I would probably have less spam there, too...

Big news in Pro Cycling: invitations for the 2008 Giro d'Italia did not include Team Astana.  That would mean Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, and Andreas Kloden.  I wonder if that means Astana won't be invited to participate in the Tour de France either?  That would be bigger news.  The organizers continue to send the message that they're cleaning up the sport - Astana was disgraced last year and was kicked out of last year's Tour for doping - but this may be throwing the baby out with the bath water. 

"We remove Vista".  Sign in a computer shop seen in New Hampshire.  I really wonder what Microsoft is going to do about Vista; it has become a real problem that time will not cure.  Either Windows 7 comes out sooner and is a lot better, or people will keep migrating to Macs, I guess.  The underlying problem is that the code base is bloated and buggy; this isn't something a simple UI redesign can cure.  Perhaps Windows has just jumped the shark.  Do you think we'll be running XP in 2015? 

So, did you watch the Mythbusters episode about the plane on the conveyor belt?  Yep, the plane takes off; I called it.  Not only did they convincingly perform the experiment - using an ultralight plane that takes off in 80' of runway, and a long tarp pulled by a pickup truck as the conveyor belt - they also offered a decent explanation of why the plane takes off.  The key is that the plane is "pulling" against the air with its propeller, not against the ground.  The plane's wheels just spin faster as the conveyor belt moves faster, while its propeller moves the plane forward.  When the plane reaches the speed it needs to take off (relative to the air, not to the ground!) it takes off, no problem.  Jason Kottke has more...  there is now a "hell yeah the plane takes off" tee-shirt, too.  One delightful aspect of the Mythbusters show was that the plane's pilot thought the plane would not take off, and was astonished when it did :)