Critical Section

Sunday,  02/03/08  07:54 PM

Tom Petty at halftime of the Super BowlCan I just say Tom Petty was excellent at halftime?  I can?  Cool, because I thought he was.  I love the trend of having good old rock bands performing at halftime shows; last year's Super Bowl featured Prince, and the year before we had the Stones...  (And just recently ZZTop rocked the Orange Bowl.)  Much better than lousy hip-hop [c]rap.  Or wardrobe malfunctions.

The game itself began as a yawner, but ended up having a pretty exciting final quarter.  In fact the last five minutes were excellent; you had the young gun (Eli Manning) leading the upstart underdogs (Giants) to a last minute touchdown, and then the old veteran (Tom Brady) responding with the undefeated juggernaut (Patriots), but coming up short.  Great stuff.  Oh, and Shirley's tacos were pretty great, too :)

BTW as far as ads; the worst was the Audi ad with the radiator in the bed, a la the Godfather.  The R8 is one awesome car, why not show a minute of it climbing Pike's Peak, accompanied by the roar of its engine?  That would sell way more cars than something dumb that didn't work [and even if it did would insult people].

It's Groundhog Day!  Punxsutawney Phil predicts more winter.  So be it.  I cannot hear "Groundhog Day" without hearing Sonny and Cher singing "I got you babe".  And smiling :)

5:59 - it's Groundhog day!Jamie Zawinsky must have been bored yesterday; he figured out in laborious detail that Bill Murray's character lived in Groundhog day for at least four years.  Seems worth it to end up with Andie MacDowell.  My own view however is that the pacing item would be learning to play the piano that well, which would take rather longer than four years.

The pundits continue to weight in on the Microsoft / Yahoo combination: Fake Steve describes Monkey Boy's three-legged race.  "It's like taking the two guys who finished second and third in a 100-yard dash and tying their legs together and asking for a rematch, believing that now they'll run faster."  A quote which allegedly came from Steve Ballmer (Monkey Boy) himself.

Henry Blodget has a similar view: Why the Yahoo-Microsoft deal will be a disaster.

And Geoffrey Moore called this a long time ago: Competing for Market Share - Maybe.  "In categories where purchases are frequent and switching costs are low, making sacrifices to gain market share is a fool’s errand. There is no way to recoup your investment downstream since each new round of purchases reopens the bidding to all comers."  That would seem to describe the online ad market perfectly.

My own view is that it won't happen; either the DOJ will intervene, or the deal will fall apart during negotiations.  But it will hurt both companies anyway; valuable talent is already leaving Yahoo and MSN.

There's a new programming language out there: Arc.  It is a dialect of Lisp.  "Arc is designed above all for exploratory programming: the kind where you decide what to write by writing it. A good medium for exploratory programming is one that makes programs brief and malleable, so that's what we've aimed for. This is a medium for sketching software."  I would normally ignore such a thing, but the author of Arc is Paul Graham.  He describes some of the key virtues and wants us to take the Arc challenge.

The key virtue of Arc is that it enables programs to be made shorter.  This makes them easier to write and debug, and exposes the logic enabling easier iteration and enhancement.  Interesting.  Of course performance will be a problem - it always is, with Lisp derivatives - but for many applications that might not matter.

That's an interesting segue to a great post I had saved: Why Windows is less secure than Linux.  The two diagrams at right represent system call trace maps; the upper one is Apache on Linux, and the lower one is IIS on Windows.  You can see at a glance that Linux is simpler and more organized, and hence easier to debug and secure.

System call trace map: Apache on Linux
Apache on Linux
(click to enlarge)

System call trace map: IIS on Windows
IIS on Windows
(click to enlarge)

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