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You Might Be Evil · Or at least, your em­ploy­er might be. Over the years we in the tech sec­tor have got­ten used to be­ing well-regarded. After al­l, we make people’s live bet­ter, on bal­ance. That’s chang­ing. At the mo­ment it’s rum­blings from thought lead­er­s, not per­va­sive pop­u­lar anger. The oth­er thing that’s new is that they’re thought lead­ers who are pro­gres­sives and lib­er­al­s; just like most of us in the tech pro­fes­sion­s. It no­tably in­volves the M-word and those of us on the in­side need to be think­ing about it ...
 
Geek Career Paths · Sup­pose you’re do­ing tech­nol­o­gy, and like do­ing tech­nol­o­gy, and your career’s go­ing well, and you find your­self won­der­ing what you’re go­ing to be do­ing in twen­ty years. I’ve been down sev­er­al of the roads you might de­cide to take, and it oc­curs to me that talk­ing them over might amuse and in­for­m ...
[19 comments]  
Game of Homes · What hap­pened was, I got on an air­plane, un­ex­pect­ed­ly fin­ished my book, and dis­cov­ered there wasn’t much else down­load­ed on that de­vice. So I start­ed re-reading what was there, name­ly Game of Thrones. It’s hard to stop do­ing that once you start, and what’s worse, I can’t help think­ing about Van­cou­ver Real Es­tate ...
[7 comments]  
Industrial Music · I just fin­ished read­ing The Song Machine: In­side the Hit Fac­to­ry by John Seabrook, which taught me that the big hits be­ing pumped at us via the big di­vas with the great thighs are most­ly the out­put of a re­pro­ducible mech­a­nized pro­cess, and the me­chan­ics are Swedes. No, re­al­ly ...
[5 comments]  
re:Invent in Vegas · That was in­tense. AWS’s cus­tomers are great. But I wish I could like Ve­gas more ...
 
Car-share Economics · I fi­nal­ly got around to try­ing car-sharing, which is to say sam­pling the fu­ture. The CBC has a good overview of Van­cou­ver ser­vices; I can’t imag­ine the pric­ing trade-offs be­ing that dif­fer­ent in oth­er mar­ket­s ...
[5 comments]  
On Piketty on Capital · Thomas Piketty’s Cap­i­tal in the Twenty-First Cen­tu­ry may well be the most im­por­tant eco­nomics book pub­lished this cen­tu­ry; or maybe just the most im­por­tant book. Its phys­i­cal ver­sion is sold out. I just fin­ished it, and while it’s been re­viewed to death (by Nobel-Prize win­ner­s, for­sooth), I haven’t heard any Net-head or software-geek voic­es. And there are an­gles there our tribe should pay at­ten­tion to ...
[10 comments]  
Twenty-first Century Home Repair · What hap­pened was, a hor­ri­ble wind­storm took a big branch off the neighbors’ maple; it re­duced one of our eave­stroughs to scrap met­al on the way down. Get­ting it fixed was (sur­pris­ing­ly) Net-mediated and pain-free ...
 
Springtime Tab Sweep — The World · The on­ly uni­fy­ing theme is that they’ve been build­ing up in the brows­er for month­s, and are gen­er­al­ly con­sis­tent with my world­view ...
[3 comments]  
Theology Lessons · I got a pack­age in the mail to­day from Ox­ford Univer­si­ty Press, con­tain­ing The Ar­chi­tec­ture of The­ol­o­gy by Prof. A.N. Wil­liams of Cam­bridge University’s Fac­ul­ty of Divin­i­ty. This pleas­es me in­tense­ly ...
[4 comments]  
No Poaching? · To­day I see in Slash­dot a sug­ges­tion that there’s some sort of a no-poaching agree­ment among big Silly-Valley tech com­pa­nies. I’d nev­er heard of such a thing un­til, by chance, yes­ter­day. I was fly­ing from San Fran­cis­co to Van­cou­ver and was talk­ing to the guy in the next seat (it’s re­mark­able what a con­ver­sa­tion piece the Galaxy Tab is). He said he worked in Microsoft’s Val­ley of­fice and at some point in the con­ver­sa­tion told me that you couldn’t jump ei­ther way be­tween, specif­i­cal­ly, Mi­crosoft and Ap­ple; that if you were talk­ing to a re­cruiter from the one, they’d drop you if you came from the oth­er. He said “They do that to keep peo­ple from go­ing back and forth to get raises.”
[9 comments]  
A Story of O · In re­cent days I’ve been think­ing of JavaOne, as we kicked it around and de­cid­ed we just couldn’t send speak­ers; and of Or­a­cle OpenWorld, to which JavaOne will now serve as an ap­pendage. It re­mind­ed me of a con­ver­sa­tion I had last year about Or­a­cle ...
[29 comments]  
The Great Game · Is it VHS vs Be­ta­max, Mac vs PC, or Coke vs Pep­si? The cur­rent multibillion-dollar mobile-market war is a con­fus­ing tan­gle of soft­ware mak­er­s, hard­ware mak­er­s, and net­work op­er­a­tors. This isn’t what a the­o­rists would call a per­fect or even very clean com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, but it does seem to be de­liv­er­ing a reg­u­lar flow of bet­ter, faster, more us­able prod­ucts to the peo­ple of Earth. It’s a priv­i­lege to be in it ...
[27 comments]  
Disclosure re Twitter · A while ago, I made a small in­vest­ment in a Van­cou­ver com­pa­ny called Smallthought Sys­tem­s, which has now been ac­quired by Twit­ter. Thus, I am now the own­er of a small num­ber of Twit­ter shares, and may fair­ly be sus­pect­ed of bias when dis­cussing that com­pa­ny. I con­tin­ue to ad­mire and use Twit­ter, and al­so con­tin­ue to think that it’s a bug when an apparently-fundamental medi­um for hu­man com­mu­ni­ca­tions is the prod­uct of a sin­gle com­pa­ny.
[9 comments]  
Corporations and Emotions · Is mean­ing­ful or use­ful to have emo­tion­al re­ac­tions to busi­ness or­ga­ni­za­tion­s? Right now there’s a lot of that go­ing around; the at­mo­sphere swirling around my em­ploy­er and That Fruit Com­pa­ny a short com­mute away in Sil­i­con Val­ley grows steamy. Which pales com­pared to the glob­al out­pour­ing of fear and loathing di­rect­ed at a cer­tain English oil cor­po­ra­tion. I’m go­ing to ar­gue (after some per­son­al di­gres­sion­s) that hat­ing on BP is per­haps ac­tive­ly harm­ful ...
[26 comments]  
In Spring · Young men’s fan­cy turns to thoughts of, well, it de­pend­s ...
[2 comments]  
They’re Hiring! · Some­thing about my Cur­rent Sta­tus post the oth­er day touched a nerve, and a sub­stan­tial num­ber of peo­ple want­ed me to pass on the fact that they’re hir­ing and might well be in­ter­est­ed in Sun alum­ni. (Hm­m... now this piece is pro­vok­ing “us too” no­tices. I’ll up­date, for a while any­how.) ...
[1 comment]  
Pricing Drama · It’s been a hairy few days, start­ing with Ama­zon fir­ing a broad­side at Macmil­lan (I like Char­lie Stross’ sum­ma­ry the best) then, with­in 72 hours, back­ing down. The en­su­ing con­ver­sa­tion (most­ly on Twit­ter) has been very in­ter­est­ing ...
[18 comments]  
Disinvesting In the USA · Tues­day on Twit­ter I said “Moved the % of US eq­ui­ties in my long-term port­fo­lio down from mod­er­ate to ba­si­cal­ly zero.” I got a lot of ques­tions so here’s more ...
[14 comments]  
Where The Crooks Are · Sun was one of the first com­pa­nies to open the blog­ging flood­gates, of­fi­cial­ly. We wrote a pol­i­cy doc­u­ment to help keep peo­ple out of trou­ble. Many oth­ers in our in­dus­try fol­lowed our lead. There was a lot of wor­ry around the busi­ness that em­pow­er­ing or­di­nary em­ploy­ees to talk to the world could lead to dam­ag­ing leaks and get us or them in trou­ble. Hah ...
[11 comments]  
Where’s the Mobile Biz? · I’m not sure there’s much chance of build­ing a suc­cess­ful busi­ness sell­ing through an App Store. And I know how hard it is to gen­er­ate ser­vice rev­enue off a Web site, whether you’re aim­ing at mo­bile clients or not. So, I have a ques­tion: Is there re­al­ly any mon­ey to be made in mo­bile app­s? ...
[18 comments]  
Tab Sweep — The World · In the cur­rent Twit­ter era, link-blogging has be­come some­thing of a lost art. But damn do I ev­er have a lot of tabs open, dat­ing back month­s. This first in­stal­ment most­ly full of anger and neg­a­tiv­i­ty, sor­ry ’bout that. But we’ll start out with a beau­ti­ful must-read on hu­man ge­net­ic­s ...
[6 comments]  
What’s “Cloud Interop”? · I’ve seen ver­biage on this echo­ing around the Net while the var­i­ous Cloudy fes­tiv­i­ties go on down in the Bay Area. You could spend a lot of time par­ti­tion­ing and tax­on­o­miz­ing the in­terop prob­lem, but I’d rather think of it from the busi­ness point of view ...
[6 comments]  
Overheard · In two sep­a­rate finance-biz meet­ings last week: “You date your hard­ware ven­dor, but you mar­ry Lar­ry Ellison.”
[4 comments]  
Bye-bye A&B · Not un­ex­pect­ed­ly, A&B Sound has gone out of busi­ness. This one hits me pret­ty hard. Does music-on-disc have a fu­ture? ...
[18 comments]  
Anger Management · If you’re in­ter­est­ed in the on­go­ing fi­nan­cial calami­ty, or maybe even if you’re not, and whether or not you think you un­der­stand what hap­pened, I high­ly rec­om­mend that you set aside a few min­utes to read Michael Lewis’ re­mark­able The End. I find my­self, off and on, suf­fer­ing from un­man­age­ably se­vere anger at the fi­nan­cial pro­fes­sion­als who paid them­selves mil­lions for driv­ing the econ­o­my in­to a brick wall at high speed, then walk­ing away while we pick up the pieces. Read­ing The End didn’t help. So what are we go­ing to do? ...
[16 comments]  
On Regulation · Once we do enough fire-fighting to move the fi­nan­cial cri­sis from existential-threat sta­tus to just an­oth­er hole we have to climb out of, the time will have ar­rived to re­design the de­vel­oped world’s fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tion frame­work. I’m not a pro, but I’ve been in busi­ness for some decades and I’m an in­vestor and know quite a bit of ac­count­ing, and I have opin­ion­s ...
[20 comments]  
On Tough Times · As the clock ticked to­ward my Friday-morning keynote at FOWA Lon­don 2008 I was se­ri­ous­ly tense, be­cause late Thurs­day I’d torn up my nearly-cooked speech. What I gave in­stead was a dark-hued scary mes­sage en­ti­tled Get­ting Through the Tough Times. Be­cause, you know, I’m scared ...
[19 comments]  
Go Network · What’s the sin­gle most im­por­tant thing that can help us all get by in tough times? Other peo­ple. And if it takes an ef­fort to get out and build a net­work, well that’s an ef­fort we all need to be mak­ing. [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
 
Contribute · If you want the Web to help you earn a liv­ing dur­ing tough times, you’d bet­ter be giv­ing some­thing back. [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
[13 comments]  
Branch Out · What can you, as an in­di­vid­u­al, do to max­i­mize your chances and min­i­mize your pain dur­ing tough times? Sugges­tion­s: lose your re­li­gion, look over the fence, and learn some­thing. [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.]  ...
[14 comments]  
Understand Your User · We’re hear­ing that lousy times are good times for cre­ativ­i­ty, for build­ing new things, pre­cise­ly be­cause the main­stream things aren’t work­ing. Wel­l, and maybe you’re out of a job too. If you’re build­ing some­thing new, who should you build it for? [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
[11 comments]  
Answer the Phone Call · I think that if you’re look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties in tough times, the tele­coms mar­ket is a re­al­ly good place to look. [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
[3 comments]  
Legacy Opportunity · Al­most ev­ery­one in this busi­ness has put in time work­ing on crufty, cal­ci­fied old soft­ware de­ploy­ments; the po­lite word is “Legacy”. Wel­l, they’re not go­ing away any time soon. And in tough times, there might be some re­al op­por­tu­ni­ty lurk­ing in these dark, dusty cor­ner­s. [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
[6 comments]  
Back to Basics · What have the poster chil­dren of Web 2.0 been about? Con­sid­er some ex­am­ples: Pic­tures, movies, hang­ing out, air trav­el, knit­ting, and shar­ing what you’re up to. In the con­text of a glob­al eco­nom­ic melt­down, don’t these feel a lit­tle, well, frivolous? [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
[5 comments]  
Regulatory Opportunity · [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] In the se­ries so far, I’ve been writ­ing gen­er­al­ly about or­ga­ni­za­tion­al be­hav­ior aimed at get­ting through the ug­li­ness. I’d al­so like to of­fer some sug­ges­tions for ar­eas that are like­ly to be fruit­ful growth op­por­tu­ni­ties in tough times. The most ob­vi­ous one, a no-brainer, is the tools and tech­nolo­gies we’ll need to com­ply with a mas­sive change in the reg­u­la­to­ry cli­mate ...
[4 comments]  
No Venture Capital · Do­ing a start­up is al­ways tough (been there, done that) and the eco­nom­ic melt­down isn’t go­ing to help; well, un­less you’ve found a works-great-in-bad-times niche. Every start­up con­sid­ers venture-capital in­vest­men­t. For most Web star­tup­s, this is a lousy idea, and I think the cur­rent busi­ness cli­mate makes it worse. [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
[4 comments]  
Join the Conversation · If your busi­ness is hurt­ing and mon­ey is tight, I have an idea: How’d you like to de­ploy an ap­pli­ca­tion that lets you get clos­er to your cus­tomer­s, hear about trou­ble be­fore it gets se­ri­ous, and doesn’t cost much? [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
[8 comments]  
Get In the Cloud · When times are tough, mon­ey is tight. Which mean­s, you’d think, that the gold­en era of Cloud Com­put­ing, as in pay-as-you-go in­fras­truc­ture, is up­on us. It should be, but we’re not there yet. [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
[24 comments]  
Free Software Now · I’m talk­ing, sans ide­ol­o­gy, about “free” as in no-money-up-front. When busi­ness is al­ready hurt­ing, up-front soft­ware li­cense fees hurt es­pe­cial­ly hard, and I just don’t be­lieve that En­ter­prise Soft­ware, as cur­rent­ly priced, has much fu­ture, in the near term any­how. [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
[5 comments]  
A Good Time for Agility · When busi­ness is lousy, get­ting projects ap­proved and bud­get­ed is chal­leng­ing. Which mean­s, tough times are good times to be ag­ile. [This is part of the Tough Times se­ries.] ...
[5 comments]  
On Regulation · Speak­ing from mid­dle of the fi­nan­cial stor­m, voic­es are raised blam­ing the tu­mult on the spec­u­la­tors, on the banks, on the hedgies, on the short­s, on the Repub­li­can­s, on the rat­ings agen­cies, on the Democrats’ Com­mu­ni­ty Rein­vest­ment Ac­t, on CDO’s and CDS’s, on peo­ple buy­ing hous­es above their sta­tion, you name it. This is all at one lev­el right, but that lev­el doesn’t mat­ter. The sys­tem, by def­i­ni­tion, will al­ways con­tain a mea­sure of knaves and fool­s, be­cause it’s pop­u­lat­ed by in­stances of ho­mo sapi­ens. Thus, it has to be reg­u­lat­ed to keep it run­ning. Thus, the cur­rent melt­down is a fail­ure of reg­u­la­tion and noth­ing else. The long term so­lu­tion has to be about reg­u­la­tion too ...
[18 comments]  
Rules · Busi­ness fail­ure is much in the news. I have per­son­al ex­pe­ri­ence, hav­ing on a few oc­ca­sions been in the man­age­ment of a hard-pressed com­pa­ny that need­ed mon­ey to stay afloat. I learned the Gold­en Rule: He Who Has The Gold Makes the Rules. I’ve al­so been there ad­vis­ing peo­ple try­ing to de­ploy mon­ey to save a trou­bled busi­ness. I learned some­thing else: mak­ing good rules is hard.
[1 comment]  
Seems Simple To Me · The world’s fi­nance in­dus­try, led by that of the Unit­ed States, bet the busi­ness on the propo­si­tion that re­al es­tate prices al­ways go up. Seemed plau­si­ble at the time, but they lost the bet. Now the world’s tax­pay­er­s, led by those in the Unit­ed States, have to pick up the pieces. But I’m old-fashioned, I ac­tu­al­ly be­lieve in the ben­e­fits of both free mar­kets and in­tel­li­gent reg­u­la­tion. One of those ben­e­fits is ac­count­abil­i­ty. So pick up the pieces all right, but the peo­ple who bet their busi­ness­es now have to lose their busi­ness­es; and with no com­pen­sa­tion, be­cause they’re losers. Put­ting them in jail is prob­a­bly not cost-effective, but we tax­pay­er/vot­ers could re­vis­it that find­ing if we hear any whin­ing. Other­wise cap­i­tal­ism doesn’t work and we’re look­ing for Plan B.
[18 comments]  
No W Suites · I reg­u­lar­ly vis­it Sun’s big Men­lo Park cam­pus, which at the west end of the Dum­bar­ton bridge. I’d de­vel­oped the habit of stay­ing at the W Suites in Ne­wark, at the east end of the bridge; con­ve­nien­t, and the bridge com­mute is scenic and re­fresh­ing. No longer ...
[8 comments]  
No UPS · Lau­ren has al­ready writ­ten about UPS’s sleazy prac­tice of slap­ping a “customs clearance” fee on ground ship­ments from the USA to Canada; peo­ple who are clued-in to this just don’t use UPS Ground any more. Wel­l, as of last week, I’m not us­ing UPS Ex­press ei­ther; here’s why ...
[5 comments]  
Time To Twitter · I spend quite a bit of time talk­ing about leading-edge Web stuff to main­stream En­ter­prise type­s. I have a well-polished ex­pla­na­tion for the rise of PHP and Rails and so on: Time To Mar­ket. Here’s the sound-bite: “If you and I have the same good idea for a community-based Web site on the same day, and mine is on the air in five months and yours in eight, then you’re dead. And it doesn’t mat­ter if yours is bet­ter, be­cause the com­mu­ni­ty has gathered.” Wel­l, Twit­ter would be the canon­i­cal ex­am­ple. They went with Rails be­cause it let them build fast; and they built fast. They suf­fered ter­ri­ble pain for months try­ing to take Rails places it’d nev­er been be­fore; but they fought through it and they’re in a very good place. Smart peo­ple tell me that Pownce and Jaiku are slick­er and bet­ter but who cares? Ap­par­ent­ly 140 char­ac­ter­s, dis­tribut­ed ap­pro­pri­ate­ly, gives you what you need.
[39 comments]  
Service in 2008 · What hap­pened was, I want­ed to buy a Ri­coh GX00 and, in North Amer­i­ca, there’s on­ly one place to do that: Ado­ra­ma (got­ta love that name), a New York cam­era store with on­line pre­ten­sion­s. It didn’t work out well, but while we don’t know yet if the sto­ry has a hap­py end­ing, it cer­tain­ly has a sil­ver lin­ing ...
[6 comments]  
Adoption · I don’t of­ten de­vote a whole post here to just one link, but I think Si­mon Phipps’ The Adoption-Led Mar­ket de­serves it. If you’re in the busi­ness of tech­nol­o­gy you prob­a­bly need to read it. Espe­cial­ly the “Consequences” sec­tion.
[3 comments]  
The Big Switch · Clear­ly, Ni­cholas Carr dis­ap­proves of much of the cul­ture in which I’ve im­mersed my­self and which I nearly-wholly em­brace, to which I would ap­ply la­bels such as “online” or “Web” or “Internet” or “Twenty-first century”. (Carr and I have writ­ten back and forth al­ready on the gen­er­al­i­ties.) So it would be rea­son­able to sus­pect me of bias in writ­ing about his re­cent The Big Switch—Rewiring the world, from Edi­son to Google. And in­deed, I do think that sev­er­al of its key ar­gu­ments are, well, wrong. But it’s a good book any­how; well writ­ten and ex­treme­ly ap­po­site ...
[5 comments]  
Tab Sweep — The World · Yes, I’ve been post­ing few­er sub­stan­tive orig­i­nal pieces here. Work­ing on a cou­ple of things that aren’t very pub­lic, and al­so feel­ing itchy be­cause what was rad­i­cal three years ago has be­come con­ven­tion­al wis­dom, which leaves me feel­ing emp­ty and in need of some­thing rad­i­cal. To­day an amus­ing an­tique cam­er­a, Ira­ni­an video, where we wen­t, nine days of win­ter, and what hap­pens when everything’s free? ...
 
Microsoft + Yahoo · I have a Ya­hoo userid. I bet you do too. I won­der how many of those there are, in to­tal? I won­der what that num­ber di­vid­ed by $44,600,000,000 is?
[16 comments]  
XBRL News · Last week I gave a talk at the 16th In­ter­na­tion­al XBRL Con­fer­ence here in Van­cou­ver. XBRL is an XML-based sys­tem for pack­ing up companies’ fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion, and I think it’s re­al im­por­tant. But its take-off has been kind of pro­tract­ed and ar­du­ous. I was there as an Am­bas­sador From the We­b. Here’s a quick XBRL news overview ...
[5 comments]  
Message From the Web · Last week I gave a talk at the 16th In­ter­na­tion­al XBRL Con­fer­ence here in Van­cou­ver. XBRL is an XML-based sys­tem for pack­ing up companies’ fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion, and I think it’s re­al im­por­tant. But its take-off has been kind of pro­tract­ed and ar­du­ous. I was there as an Am­bas­sador From the We­b. Here’s what I told them ...
[7 comments]  
Mortgages · I’m hard­ly alone in be­ing fas­ci­nat­ed by the cur­rent fi­nan­cial tu­mult; all these mortgage-backed fi­nan­cial in­stru­ments, and no­body re­al­ly knows how much they’re worth. If there’s good news, it’s that the im­me­di­ate short-term blood­let­ting will most­ly in­volve high-roller in­vestors, hedge-fund cus­tomer­s, those best able to af­ford it. Will it spill over in­to the broad­er econ­o­my? My per­son­al bet is prob­a­bly not. But any­how, I don’t have any­thing new to say on the sub­jec­t. I think Bram Co­hen does, though.
[8 comments]  
Tab Sweep — The World · To­day we have chip­munks and hats and earn­ings and a nov­el ...
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Color Commentary · Read the ex­cel­lent play-by-play from Andy Upde­grove: Up­date on the US Vote on OOXML (and What Hap­pens Nex­t). He seems to have all the pub­lic fact­s, but speak­ing as one who’s been through a few of those pro­cess­es, I thought I should high­light some­thing that’s go­ing on right now, but won’t be talked about much. The prob­lem of fig­ur­ing out the US vote is in the hands of the 16 mem­bers of the INCITS com­mit­tee. So does that mean that everyone’s sit­ting still wait­ing for them to make up their mind­s? Nope. What’s hap­pen­ing right now is that the big play­ers with skin in the game are ap­ply­ing executive-to-executive pres­sure, be­hind the sce­nes, to the com­mit­tee members’ bosses’ bosses’ boss­es. In a few cas­es it’ll work, and the mem­bers will be is­sued here’s-your-vote march­ing or­der­s. I’ve seen it hap­pen. In fac­t, when the in­ten­si­ty lev­el gets up there, I’ve nev­er seen it not hap­pen. No­body will ev­er know the whole sto­ry on what’s hap­pen­ing right now un­der the cov­er­s. I re­al­ly don’t en­vy the com­mit­tee mem­ber­s.
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Tab Sweep · Most­ly technology-centric, this time ...
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Whither IT? · There are a cou­ple of brows­er tabs I’ve had open for at least a week now and they’ve been mak­ing me think and I think they’re re­lat­ed but I still don’t have a syn­the­sis. The first is Bill de hÓra’s Match­stick Men, which says a bunch of smart things about WS-* and REST, but that’s not what res­onates, it’s this: Crit­i­cal­ly the up­keep and main­te­nance of lega­cy sys­tems has come to dom­i­nate busi­ness soft­ware spend­ing. Most large en­ter­prise IT di­vi­sions now have the equiv­a­lent of a pen­sions fund cri­sis, ex­cept that all the mon­ey is be­ing spent on old sys­tems in­stead of old peo­ple. The sec­ond is Ni­cholas Carr’s Ci­ti whacks IT, from be­gin­s: In yet an­oth­er sign of the vast amount of waste in­her­ent in big-company IT op­er­a­tions... ...
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Misirlou · You know, I don’t of­ten post here say­ing “check out this YouTube clip”, but to­day I’ve got two, both fea­tur­ing Dick Dale. The first one I saw was this in­ter­view, where Dick of­fers ad­vice based on bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence that il­lus­trates, were that need­ed, how dys­func­tion­al the mu­sic busi­ness is. Then serendip­i­ty led me to this 1963 video of Dick play­ing Misir­lou. Be­cause, you know, there are many dif­fer­ent gen­res of mu­sic stretch­ing back over the decades and cen­turies, but it seems ob­vi­ous to me that any­one with taste and in­tel­li­gence would have to ac­knowl­edge that the surf-guitar-instrumental stands head and shoul­ders above all the rest as the pin­na­cle of hu­man mu­si­cal achieve­men­t.
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On Selling Music · There’s been so much music-biz news to think about re­cent­ly: CD sales de­cline, Mark Cuban pre­dict­ed the death of the CD in a post that cor­rect­ly pre­fig­ured the demise of DRM; but be care­ful, as Paul Ke­drosky points out, we geeks need to do a way bet­ter job of ex­plain­ing DRM to civil­ian­s ...
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Cloudy Paranoia · Check out The Web 2.0 Ad­dress Book May Have Ar­rived by Tim O’Reilly, pass­ing along (with ap­prov­ing re­mark­s) David Pogue’s pitch for GrandCen­tral; it gives you a sin­gle phone num­ber that rings all your phones wher­ev­er you are. Says David: “Its mot­to, ‘One num­ber for life,’ pret­ty much says it all.” Since I have a sim­i­lar ser­vice through Ac­cessLine cour­tesy of Sun, I can ap­pre­ci­ate a re­source like this. But there was some­thing about the an­nounce­ment that was both­er­ing me ...
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Twenty-First Century Recruiting · Google is hir­ing. And there was a Tues­day in last week. Mind you, everybody’s hir­ing. But jeep­er­s, I got a friend­ly email yes­ter­day to my @sun.­com ad­dress from a Google re­cruiter, sub­ject “Exciting Job Op­por­tu­ni­ty with Google!” say­ing “saw your blog, we sure are a great place to work, want to talk?”. Now, it’s re­al­ly easy to dig up my pri­vate non-Sun ad­dress. Not to men­tion my phone num­ber. Am I old-fashioned, or does this seem a lit­tle des­per­ate? I as­sume that more or less ev­ery­body in the biz who’s got a blog or is oth­er­wise pub­licly vis­i­ble will be get­ting email @work from the big G. Any­how, I wrote back say­ing “Thanks, but en­joy­ing my job just now.” and she wrote back say­ing OK and “Feel free to pass along my con­tact in­for­ma­tion to any friends or col­leagues who you think might be in­ter­est­ed in ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties with Google.” I’ll get right on it. What’s nex­t; sandwich-men in high-tech park­ing lot­s?
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Microsoft · Last week I spent time talk­ing to a lot of dif­fer­ent tech­nol­o­gy peo­ple, from all over the world ge­o­graph­i­cal­ly and or­ga­ni­za­tion­al­ly and cul­tur­al­ly. The con­ver­sa­tion kept loop­ing back to Mi­crosoft, and to the same sen­ti­men­t: They’ve lost their mo­jo. Lots of peo­ple will end up us­ing Vis­ta, but does any­one care? The Mi­crosoft ex­ecs look hag­gard and joy­less, and half the in­ter­views feel phoned-in. There’s re­al in­no­va­tion in the Of­fice UI, and ev­ery­one says “But it’s OK, the old key­board short­cuts still work”. The ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign is va­pid and lame, but then that’s noth­ing new; they haven’t run an ef­fec­tive one in years. I’m sure that Mi­crosoft can come back, the way IBM did af­ter their bad patch last cen­tu­ry; maybe the en­er­gy is build­ing in a build­ing in Red­mond where nobody’s look­ing. I’ve nev­er liked Mi­crosoft, but now I re­al­ize how much en­er­gy they used to in­ject in­to the ecosys­tem, be­cause it’s not there any more and I miss it.
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Hot Job Market · It seems that ev­ery­body I’ve talked to in the last lit­tle while has found a way to work it in­to the con­ver­sa­tion: “Oh, and I’m hir­ing; know any good developers?” Plus, the pace of calls from head-hunters has picked up. It’s about as hot as I can re­mem­ber it be­ing, ev­er, in­clud­ing the bub­ble.
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Kedrosky · I sus­pect that any­one who likes on­go­ing and isn’t al­ready read­ing Paul Kedrosky’s In­fec­tious Greed ought to start. He’s re­al­ly got a gift for the medi­um; it’s a rare day when he doesn’t run some­thing that makes me want to write. Here are a few sam­ples from this mon­th: The New Ven­ture Rules, Part XXIV: Get Big Cheap, Supreme Court To­day on Pa­tent Ob­vi­ous­ness, and Com­par­ing Reach Across Mo­bile and PC for Pop­u­lar Sites. [Dis­clo­sure: Paul and I are both in­vestors in Dab­ble DB.]
 
Startup Camp · I spent Thurs­day and Fri­day at Start­up Camp, at the Com­put­er His­to­ry Mu­se­um. This event was sort of orig­i­nal­ly my idea, but smart Sun peo­ple re­tained the good parts—make it an unCon­fer­ence, in­volve David Berlind—and dis­card­ed my sil­ly them­ing no­tion­s; the “Startup Camp” pitch ob­vi­ous­ly touched a nerve, be­cause the place was packed ...
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The Money Statement · Some­where in the code run­ning in­side our big HP house­hold print­er (and, I sus­pec­t, ev­ery oth­er print­er on the plan­et) there’s a line of code, some­thing along the lines of
if (drum_age > drum_warn­ing_level)
  display BuyNewDrumWarn­ing

Wel­l, that warn­ing mes­sage comes up aw­ful ear­ly. And it dawns on me that the val­ue cho­sen for drum_warn­ing_lev­el has an im­pact on HP’s cash flow that’s mea­sured in bil­lion­s: small­er val­ue, more mon­ey. And the temp­ta­tion to move it down and then down again over the years, that’d be ir­re­sistable.

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Sorry Pedro, Hello Vera · Creative de­struc­tion, I think is what they call it ...
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Transparent Business · I spent a cou­ple of fas­ci­nat­ing hours Tues­day at a round ta­ble host­ed by the Unit­ed States Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion. The sub­ject was In­ter­ac­tive Da­ta, a term which is hard­ly self-explanatory but re­al­ly means “Business Transparency”. This in the same week that Jonathan sent a let­ter on the same sub­ject to SEC Chair­man Christo­pher Cox, who was al­so around the table. Mr. Cox and the SEC are def­i­nite­ly on the right track; I ex­pect bumps in the road, but there’s a chance that Ac­count­ing As We Know It could be blown up. Which would be a good thing; and not just be­cause Open Source is creep­ing in ...
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Web Hacking With Real Money · Look­ing for some new da­ta for your next mash-up? How about play­ing with re­al mon­ey? The U.S. Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Commission’s In­ter­ac­tive Da­ta Ini­tia­tive has an RSS feed of com­pa­ny fi­nan­cial fil­ings; not just the tex­t, but in a highly-structured XML for­mat called XBRL. I glance at the feed this morn­ing and see da­ta from ADP, Dow Chem­i­cal, Moli­na Health­care, Xerox, GE, In­fos­ys, 3M, Bris­tol My­ers Squib­b, and lots more. XBRL isn’t the world’s eas­i­est for­mat to grok; that’s part­ly be­cause the for­malisms that gov­ern ac­count­ing are non-trivial in the ex­treme. But I’m quite sure there are for­tunes to be made by peo­ple who com­bine hack­ing chops with fi­nan­cial savvy, and fig­ure out how to au­to­mate dig­ging in­sight out of this data. Of course, in most gold rush­es, the best busi­ness an­gle is sell­ing tools and en­ter­tain­ment to the min­er­s; so there is ob­vi­ous­ly more than one way to work this ter­ri­to­ry. And a great big tip of the hat to the SEC for get­ting this stuff on the air.
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How Much Work? · Here are links to two ex­plo­rations of the same ques­tion: why do we work the amount we work? Suw Char­man re­cent­ly re­port­ed on a thought-provoking EuroFOO ses­sion by Ryan Car­son, who has de­cid­ed as a mat­ter of pol­i­cy to put his com­pa­ny on a four-day week. Then to­day Brad DeLong quotes Robert Frank on Keynes hav­ing been wrong about wealth and de­sire, but is left un­sat­is­fied, still won­der­ing “Why 40 hours?” Some of us, of course, have vo­ca­tions not jobs and are hap­pi­ly writ­ing code and chat­ting with col­leagues and blog­ging at 11PM. But stil­l... one would like the amount peo­ple work to be ex­pli­ca­ble by ra­tio­nal eco­nomic­s. DeLong doesn’t try, he veers beau­ti­ful­ly side­ways in­to Cow­boy Eco­nomics or rather Junkie Eco­nomic­s; well any­how, he quotes six vers­es of a song usu­al­ly sung by Mar­go Tim­min­s. Which is a sane way to ad­dress a mys­tery. But if I were go­ing around again, I think I’d be an economist.
 
On Innovation · I re­al­ly owe Ni­cholas Carr a vote of thanks; I be­lieve no oth­er sin­gle in­di­vid­u­al has pro­voked so many on­go­ing en­tries of the form “A is right about X” or “A is wrong about X”. To­day, Nick is wrong about in­no­va­tion. To be fair, this is some­thing that has driv­en man­age­ment prac­ti­tion­ers and the­o­rists crazy forever; the peo­ple run­ning a com­pa­ny tend to know pret­ty well where some in­no­va­tion would be use­ful; adding prod­uct val­ue to give some price lever­age; re­vamp­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions to tie up less cap­i­tal; it de­pends on the company’s pain point. And that kind of work­s, but on­ly for the lit­tle in­no­va­tion­s. Maybe the best-known ex­am­ple is Kaizen, as ap­plied in the Toy­ota Pro­duc­tion Sys­tem; which ex­plic­it­ly ac­knowl­edges that it’s chas­ing smal­l, in­cre­men­tal, steps for­ward. But for­tunes are made, and in­dus­try ti­tans are built, where man­age­ment isn’t re­al­ly look­ing, al­most al­ways. The big pieces of in­no­va­tion come out of garages and low-rent of­fices in lousy lo­ca­tion­s, and they’re pro­duced by small groups with­out much man­age­ment back­ing. It can be done at big com­pa­nies (the busi­ness per­son­al com­put­er at IBM, Ja­va at Sun) but then it’s al­ways in an off-the-mainstream skunkwork­s. Nobody—I re­peat, nobody—is smart enough to pre­dict where the next big strate­gic in­no­va­tion is go­ing to come from. So if you “narrow your in­no­va­tion focus”, you’re al­most guar­an­teed to miss it. The best ap­proach, I think, is a com­bi­na­tion of con­scious fo­cused in­cre­men­tal innovation—kaizen—combined with a struc­ture that’s loose enough that when some­one wants to hide in a cor­ner and try some­thing crazy, you don’t get in the way too much.
 
Smallthought and Me · I’ve writ­ten be­fore about Dab­ble DB, about be­ing an un­abashed fan of the peo­ple and com­pa­ny and tech­nol­o­gy. Since I think trans­paren­cy is im­por­tan­t, this is by way of dis­clo­sure: as of to­day I’m a share­hold­er in Smallthought Sys­tem­s. After I’d ad­vised them not to take any in­vest­ment mon­ey, and then ad­vised them that they should prob­a­bly take the Ven­tures West of­fer, I asked if I could have a lit­tle piece of the deal, and ev­ery­one was fine with that, so to­day I signed the pa­pers and gave them the cheque. I guess there may have been a lit­tle Van­cou­ver home-side boos­t­er­ism in my want­ing to do this but not that much; I think I’m gonna get my mon­ey back and then some.
 
Startup Camp? · This fell out of a con­ver­sa­tion at JavaOne, which, these days, is more or less the heart of the IT Estab­lish­men­t; we were won­der­ing what the equiv­a­lent event might be for ev­ery­one else in the world. I said it ought to be an un­con­fer­ence or a camp or some­thing along those lines, so there was more talk, some of it with David Ber­lind, who’s launched the very suc­cess­ful MashupCamp se­ries. Now we’re se­ri­ous­ly con­sid­er­ing an Au­tumn event in the Bay Area. I want­ed it to call it “Scaling 2.0”, but the con­sen­sus seems to be for “Startup Camp”, since the idea is to ad­dress peo­ple who are build­ing new things from scratch, as op­posed to work­ing in the ex­ist­ing ap­pli­ca­tion space. Here’s an ad­dress: star­tup­cam­p@­sun.­com. Would you come? Is the idea lame-brained? If we do it, is there some­thing we should be care­ful to do or not do? Let us know.
 
Freedom to Leave · That’s the ti­tle of a re­mark­able piece by Si­mon Phipps, long but worth read­ing all of. I sus­pect that most peo­ple who read on­go­ing have had a chance to hear Si­mon speak; but if you haven’t and you get a chance, take it. I think he’s ac­tu­al­ly bet­ter on the stage than on the page, and since this is a very good piece, the speech that went with it will have been out­stand­ing.
 
Innovation Happens Elsewhere · Tan­tek Çelik writes, on the sub­ject of work by Scott Rey­nen: “Companies take note - on the in­ter­net, there will al­ways be smarter, more clever peo­ple build­ing on each other's work than your se­cret in­ter­nal com­mit­tees, your ar­chi­tec­ture coun­cil­s, your in­ter­nal dis­cus­sion fo­rums — no mat­ter how many su­per­ge­nius­es you think you may have hired away and locked up with gold­en shack­les in your lab­s. Either play open or ex­pect your pro­pri­etary for­mats and pro­to­cols to be ob­so­lete be­fore they've even seen the light of day.” [Up­date: It’s been point­ed out to me that some might not rec­og­nize the ti­tle, which was orig­i­nal­ly ut­tered by Bill Joy and is al­so the ti­tle of a book by Gold­man and Gabriel.]
 
Hypocrisy · Maybe in an ide­al world We’d All Just Get Along and there wouldn’t be at­tack blog­ger­s, but that’s not where we live, and if we have to have at­tack blog­gers I think we should have good ones. My fave is Bill­mon, and he’s just fired off one of the best take-downs ev­er.
 
Salem · On Fri­day morn­ing I flew down to Port­land, drove to Salem, and helped out with a Sun sales pre­sen­ta­tion to the state gov­ern­ment from 10AM to 5PM. I don’t get to do many sales calls which is a pity be­cause I love them. I prob­a­bly shouldn’t queer the pitch by go­ing in­to de­tails (I will if we get the busi­ness, be­cause it’s in­ter­est­ing), but I have to say that the state-government peo­ple we were pitch­ing to had smart ques­tions and were en­dear­ing­ly ob­ses­sive about the ap­pli­ca­tion; and I would be too in their po­si­tion, it’s one of the Things That Mat­ter­s. I flew home out of PDX that same evening and damn was I tired. But the State Capi­tol is worth look­ing at, so I took a cou­ple of pic­tures ...
 
Un-Fascist Business · I ran across this Dow-Jones sto­ry en­ti­tled Dis­si­dent XM Satel­lite di­rec­tor a good role mod­el; it’s about a Board-level dis­pute at XM Satel­lite Ra­dio. The ar­gu­ment is sim­ple and straight­for­ward: whether they should fo­cus on costs and prof­itabil­i­ty, or go all-out for growth; the right an­swer isn’t ob­vi­ous. Lots of busi­ness­es have had this kind of ar­gu­men­t; I’ve been in a few my­self. What’s unique here is that they’re hav­ing it out in the open. In my two decades in busi­ness, I’ve seen a whole lot of man­age­ment (some­times Board-level) ar­gu­ments, and the more im­por­tant they are and the hard­er the prob­lem is, the more fa­nat­i­cal­ly de­ter­mined peo­ple were to keep things se­cret. For most of my life­time, the dom­i­nant school of man­age­ment thought has held that the com­pa­ny must present a cheer­ful, unit­ed, con­fi­dent face to the world and speak al­ways with one voice and on­ly one voice. I think a rea­son­able case can be made that this think­ing is, in its es­sen­tial char­ac­ter­is­tic­s, Fas­cist. It al­so strikes me as re­al­ly, re­al­ly dum­b. How could any­one think the less of XM Ra­dio be­cause we know they’re ag­o­niz­ing over profitability-vs-growth? Un­less the is­sue is some­thing like “Oops, the new prod­uct is caus­ing users to de­vel­op liv­er cancer”, I think that in gen­er­al busi­ness­es would ben­e­fit from work­ing on their hard prob­lems a lit­tle more trans­par­ent­ly.
 
People Bubble · It looks like tal­ent is get­ting damn short out there. The fre­quen­cy of calls from re­cruiters is up, way up. To­tal ice-cold call­s, like “We need a CEO for a enterprise-class so­cial soft­ware offering.” In a lot of cas­es they’re not af­ter me, just “We heard that you know lots of peo­ple in the space.” The shots are no­tice­ably longer and the fre­quen­cy is up and up, par­tic­u­lar­ly since the start of the year. No, I don’t know what it mean­s.
 
Upcoming Gig: XBRL San Jose · On Wed­nes­day Jan. 18th I’ll be at Adobe in San Jose talk­ing at the XBRL Meet­ing. XBRL is about some­thing that I’ve long felt is im­por­tan­t: stan­dard­iz­ing fi­nan­cial re­port­ing. I’ve strug­gled a whole lot over the years with ac­count­ing prin­ci­ples and fi­nan­cial re­port­ing, which are gen­er­al­ly speak­ing a snake-pit. Those of us who’ve dealt with this stuff were less sur­prised by En­ron and friend­s, be­cause “Generally Ac­cept­ed Ac­count­ing Principles” have his­tor­i­cal­ly in­clud­ed lots of lat­i­tude for egre­gious lies. The best an­swer is trans­paren­cy, give in­tel­li­gent in­vestors enough in­for­ma­tion and they’ll sniff out the bad guys. Get­ting from the mess we’re now in to com­plete trans­paren­cy has two es­sen­tial step­s: first of al­l, the reg­u­la­tors have to make Gen­er­al­ly Ac­cept­ed Ac­count­ing Lies pun­ish­able with lots of jail time. Se­cond­ly, we need tech­ni­cal in­fras­truc­ture so we can build some stan­dard­ized tools to do fi­nan­cial anal­y­sis; these ex­ist to­day, but re­quire a whole lot of hand-tweaking to weed through the GAAP-approved hand-waving and make one company’s num­bers com­pa­ra­ble to another’s. XBRL isn’t the so­lu­tion, but’s an im­por­tant piece of the puz­zle, and if there’s any­thing I can do to help, I’m there.
 
Disclosure · For some time, I’ve been ap­pend­ing “Disclosure: I may have a con­flict of in­ter­est with re­spect to Technorati” when­ev­er I men­tion them. I’m hap­py to re­port that, as of this week, I do have a con­flict of in­ter­est; the ap­proval pro­cess worked its way through mul­ti­ple lev­els of ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tees and I’m of­fi­cial­ly al­lowed to be a mem­ber of the Tech­no­rati ad­vi­so­ry board. Who knows, maybe they’ll start tak­ing my ad­vice. While I wish I could see how this whole Web-as-living-data-stream thing is go­ing to turn out, I can’t. But it’s clear­ly a world-changer.
 
Activa vs. Mrs. Lanteigne · That would be Mrs. Louisette Lan­teigne of Water­loo, On­t., who has an ex­treme­ly am­a­teur GeoCi­ties web­site that she’s been us­ing to post il­lus­trat­ed com­plaints about what look like dan­ger­ous, shod­dy, and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ly dam­ag­ing con­struc­tion prac­tices in her neigh­bor­hood, il­lus­trat­ed with her own pic­tures. Ac­ti­va, one of the de­vel­op­ers she’s been com­plain­ing about, has slapped her with a 2-million-dollar li­bel ac­tion. Plus, Slash­dot knocked her site off the air (Google cache here). The lit­i­ga­tion seems a lit­tle over the top to this non-lawyer; are there any good Waterloo-area geeks who’d like to fix her up with a higher-grade Web pres­ence?
 
Infrae · Who is In­frae.­com? And why the flam­ing hell are were they repli­cat­ing the full text from on­go­ing, and do­ing the same to Jon Udel­l, Dare Obasan­jo, and Paul Everit­t? This re­al­ly seems over the top. Who­ev­er you are, please stop now. [Up­date: It has been point­ed out that this may fall with­in the terms of my Creative Com­mons li­cense. I guess they’re at­tribut­ing prop­er­ly, and it doesn’t look like they’re charg­ing. On the oth­er hand, this looks like it may be a prod­uct de­mo, and that would be skat­ing close to the line. Hm­ph.] [Up­date: In­frae, who do Zope stuff, seem to be a de­cent bunch of peo­ple; Mar­ti­jn Faassen, one of their founder­s, sent a nice note ex­plain­ing that this was in­deed a de­mo of their Sil­va pro­duc­t. And they’ve tak­en it all down; thanks.]
 
$46,213,000,000.00 · I was do­ing re­search for a Cana­di­an TV spot I was on ear­li­er this week, and I looked up the an­swer to the ques­tion: “What is IBM’s con­sult­ing revenue?” In 2004, IBM’s gross rev­enue was $96B, of which $46B was Glob­al Ser­vices, i.e. con­sult­ing. I see that ba­si­cal­ly as tes­ti­mo­ny to how our profession—the IT profession—has failed our cus­tomer­s. Noth­ing against IBM; in fac­t, as solution-providers go, my ex­pe­ri­ence is that IBM GS is pret­ty good. But if you see IBM as a mi­cro­cosm of the in­dus­try, it shouldn’t cost $46B in con­sult­ing to de­ploy $50B worth of tech­nol­o­gy. It’s not go­ing to be easy to get there, and it’s go­ing to take a long time, but we just have to fo­cus on mak­ing things sim­pler.
 
Adobe + Macromedia = ? · Seems straight­for­ward to me. Adobe is in at the cen­ter of print pro­duc­tion (Pho­toShop & friend­s, InDe­sign, PDF), while Macromedia’s DreamWeaver is the sin­gle most im­por­tant Web-design pro­duc­t. Dave Shea says this might be about Flash, but let me sug­gest ex­act­ly the op­po­site: if you’re hitch­ing your ca­reer to Flash, it might be a good time to look at al­ter­na­tives. Why’s that? Be­cause, near as I can tel­l, Macro­me­dia has nev­er made any se­ri­ous mon­ey with Flash. They’ve ac­com­plished one of the great, hero­ic, mar­ket­ing coups of all time, get­ting the plug-in on­to sub­stan­tial­ly ev­ery desk­top on the plan­et; and this bought them, uh, what ex­act­ly? They sell au­thor­ing tool­s, but se­ri­ous­ly, how many Flash de­sign­ers does the world need? Any­how, most of the good things you can do with Flash, you can do about as well with DHTML (oops that’s called AJAX now) and your “back” but­ton still work­s. I guess there’s no rea­son to ac­tu­al­ly shut Flash down, the tool rev­enue must about cov­er the en­gi­neer­ing cost­s. But Adobe, his­tor­i­cal­ly, has been good at fo­cus­ing on what works and drop­ping the dis­trac­tion­s. (Can you re­mem­ber PageMil­l?) Flash is a dis­trac­tion. [Up­date: Smell some­thing burn­ing? That would be me, siz­zling in a tor­rent of Flash-flavored flame.] ...
 
Errors and Omissions · At­tend­ing a meet­ing in a down­town of­fice build­ing in Van­cou­ver, I pho­tographed the name­plate on the door of a busi­ness that I hadn’t known ex­ist­ed ...
 
Per-CPU Pricing is B.A.D. · To­day in the news, re­ports that Mi­crosoft per-CPU pric­ing will treat multi-cored CPUs as one. The fact that in­tel­li­gent peo­ple should even have to think about this is fur­ther ev­i­dence, if any were need­ed, that per-CPU soft­ware pric­ing is Bro­ken As De­signed. To start with, it’s un­sta­ble in the face of Moore’s law and things like multi-coring. Se­cond, and this ar­gu­ment is re­al­ly unan­swer­able, it’s rad­i­cal­ly de­cou­pled from both the cost to the ven­dor and the val­ue to the user. For in­fras­truc­ture, the per-employee pric­ing that we’re try­ing here at Sun out seems to be the best bet for cap­tur­ing the buy­er val­ue. There are some oth­er class­es of ap­pli­ca­tions that de­liv­er a lot of val­ue but are used by small group­s; CRM, tra­di­tion­al BI (but my last com­pa­ny Antarc­ti­ca is try­ing to break that mold), trader’s-desk sys­tem­s. For small-group soft­ware per-identified-user or per-parallel-user can each some­times make sense. But I am com­plete­ly at a loss to think of a sin­gle soft­ware sce­nario where per-CPU pric­ing is ra­tio­nal or de­fen­si­ble.
 
Outsourcing · To­day in Vic­to­ria (which is Bri­tish Columbia’s cap­i­tal) I spoke at an IT-focused con­fer­ence called Strate­gies for Public Sec­tor Trans­for­ma­tion. It turns out that by “transformation” they meant most­ly out­sourcing; the cur­rent jar­gon is “Alternative Ser­vice Delivery”. Th­ese are smart peo­ple and they are in the same squeeze as a lot of oth­er gov­ern­ments: on one side tax-cutting politi­cians and on the oth­er in­ex­orably ris­ing health-care cost­s. So out­sourc­ing looks at­trac­tive, be­cause lots of times it drives costs down. On the oth­er hand, these are af­ter all IT projects and, as such, a high pro­por­tion of them fail. I al­so think we should be hon­est and ac­knowl­edge is that some of the cost sav­ings come, not from core com­pe­ten­cies and all that, but from pay­ing peo­ple less for the same work. There was al­so a fair­ly hor­ri­fy­ing pre­sen­ta­tion by a wom­an from Texas about the state leg­is­la­ture lean­ing very heav­i­ly on the public-service agen­cies to out­source not just in­fras­truc­ture but ba­sics such as qual­i­fy­ing peo­ple for ben­e­fit­s. Huh? I thought the point of out­sourc­ing was to fo­cus on your core com­pe­ten­cies. In any case, I was there most­ly to talk about iden­ti­ty stan­dards, which isn’t get­ting near­ly enough at­ten­tion; if I were a hot­shot young de­vel­op­er look­ing for a niche to build in with lots room and up­side, that’s where I’d go.
 
Bad Day at Work? · Wel­l, things could be worse; check out David Morse’s epic strug­gle with the sys­tem. And those who fret about Microsoft’s chew­ing us all up with their ruth­less ef­fi­cien­cy may find their wor­ries eased.
 
Market Failure · Right now we are en­coun­ter­ing an ir­ri­tat­ing fail­ure of the free mar­ket. We had some duct­work done a cou­ple of months ago, and have a chunk of miss­ing dry­wall in our liv­ing room. There are some oth­er bits and pieces of dry­walling that need do­ing here and there around the house, too. No prob­lem, call up an ex­pert, right? Wrong. At this mo­ment in Van­cou­ver, no dry­waller can be both­ered to take on a job that’s on­ly one or two days’ work; they’re all coast­ing along do­ing ten-thousand-dollar-and-up man­sion ren­o­va­tion­s. Dry­walling is trick­y, ir­ri­tat­ing, messy work best left to pro­fes­sion­al­s... but it looks like we’re go­ing to be tak­ing it on. At any Van­cou­ver so­cial gath­er­ing, the gen­er­al un­avail­abil­i­ty of trades­peo­ple is a re­li­able conversation-starter. Hey kid­s, con­sid­er stay­ing away from that ex­pen­sive and ar­du­ous col­lege ed­u­ca­tion and tak­ing up a trade; for damn sure your job won’t get out­sourced to an­oth­er con­ti­nen­t.
 
Mark on Microsoft · OK, this is pos­i­tive­ly the last time I’m go­ing to post here say­ing “Go read Mark Cuban’s lat­est,” the word about his high-energy naked-truth-at-great-length un­punc­tu­at­ed ex­plo­sions must have pret­ty well got­ten out by now. The sub­ject this time is the Mi­crosoft div­i­dend, which is pret­ty big news.
 
C-$2MS · That ti­tle stands for “Computing Without Send­ing Money to Mi­crosoft, and right here, with Ja­va One and the Ap­ple WWDC both hap­pen­ing here in San Fran­cis­co, we’re pret­ty well at the C-$2MS World Head­quar­ter­s. Here­with some clos­ing notes and pic­tures ...
 
Cuban on Sweat · Via Mark Cuban, some very wise re­marks about how to build a busi­ness from scratch, and why you should avoid tak­ing VC mon­ey if you pos­si­bly can. [PS: I’m not go­ing to turn on­go­ing in­to a col­lec­tion of point­ers to oth­er Web stuff, this is just a co­in­ci­dence, part­ly due to the fact that I’m hov­er­ing over the ag­gre­gate Plan­etSun feed to see how this ex­per­i­ment goes, and I keep see­ing in­ter­est­ing things go by.]
 
James Surowiecki · This gen­tle­man writes reg­u­lar­ly in The New York­er on is­sues of busi­ness and eco­nomic­s, and is one of the rea­sons I reg­u­lar­ly buy that mag­a­zine. To­day he’s got a fas­ci­nat­ing es­say in Wired on col­lec­tive cor­po­rate wis­dom. Seems to me that there’s a good case to be made that the com­pa­nies who fig­ure out how to put this to work are the ones that are go­ing to win.
 
More Pricing Craziness · Down here in Oz, we’re mak­ing quite a few calls home over this and that, and while both of our cell­phones work fine, even God couldn’t af­ford the roam­ing charges. But you can call Cana­da from halfway around the world for 2.8¢/minute, here’s how: ...
 
Bouncing Termsheets · I’ve been hear­ing these sto­ries, sev­er­al times in the last mon­th, from both here in Van­cou­ver and down in the States, of en­trepreneurs hav­ing drop-kicked a VC termsheet and walked away, on the ba­sis of terms and/or val­u­a­tion. If you don’t know what this jar­gon mean­s, a crash les­son on how the VC pro­cess work­s. For those who do know, a few re­marks on VC trend­s ...
 
To Customer Service · Dear Cus­tomer Ser­vice: To­day I had a prob­lem and called your help-line. I (like quite a few peo­ple) would pre­fer to solve the prob­lem my­self us­ing your web­site, and I (like an in­creas­ing por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion) am per­fect­ly com­pe­tent to do so. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, your web site does not have a so­lu­tion to this par­tic­u­lar prob­lem, so I need to talk to a per­son. Imag­ine my dis­may when, at three suc­ces­sive lev­els of tele­phone menu, I have to lis­ten to lengthy ex­hor­ta­tions on the won­der­ful­ness of your Web site and on how it could solve my prob­lem if I would go away and (please, please) not call you. If I could use the Web site, I wouldn’t be call­ing. This guar­an­tees that by the time I even­tu­al­ly get through to a per­son, I will be ir­ri­tat­ed and prone to un­friend­li­ness. As the pro­por­tion of peo­ple who are Web-connected and Web-competent in­creas­es, the cost-effectiveness of this kind of go-away mes­sage is go­ing to fal­l. Please bear this in mind.
 
Something Stinks · This morn­ing, my news ag­gre­ga­tor served up this innocuous-looking piece from In­foworld (take a mo­ment and check it out) which I read and sud­den­ly found my­self an­gry. The anger is be­cause what this ar­ti­cle de­scribes as “what looks more and more like the way of the future” strikes me as more or less like com­plete bull­shit. De­tails fol­low ...
 
The Intangibles Market · The book busi­ness is easy to un­der­stand. An au­thor writes a book, a pub­lish­er ed­it­s, prints, mar­ket­s, and dis­tributes it, and book­stores sell it. The mon­ey gets split up be­tween the book­store, the pub­lish­er, and the au­thor, and it all works well enough to keep the books flow­ing. This is a suc­cess­ful mar­ket mech­a­nis­m; not per­fect but there aren’t any ob­vi­ous bet­ter al­ter­na­tives. Around the uni­verse of brain­ware, it doesn’t usu­al­ly work that well; wher­ev­er you look you see mar­kets that are twist­ed or com­pro­mised or just bro­ken. And it’s not ob­vi­ous what the way for­ward is. Ex­am­ples in­clude TV, jour­nal­is­m, con­fer­ences, and in­creas­ing­ly what’s on your com­put­er screen ...
 
Wrong Profession? · My broth­er writes to tell me of an un­nerv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, in­volved with hir­ing some­one to man­age a com­put­er lab. It’s more than just a lit­tle tough out there. [Up­date: A Boxed pearl.] ...
 
Cashless? · Sum­mer is dis­tinct­ly here and I took a side-trip on a cof­fee ex­pe­di­tion to the sun­glass­es em­po­ri­um; the sharp-dressed young wom­an ex­plained that the in­ex­pen­sive sun­glass­es were on this side, the de­sign­er mod­els on oth­er. But then she wouldn't take my mon­ey ...
 
Microsoft Wants Your Love · To­day, Don Box of Mi­crosoft ap­peals for love (well, at least polygamy), invit­ing us all to snug­gle up with their .NET stuff and point­ing out that it works with Open Source tech­nol­o­gy. Scoble takes a Red­mond job and al­so wants to start dat­ing. I have this prob­lem with lov­ing Mi­crosoft, it's just that I fear them so much ...
 
LA Times Whacks 'Em · An aw­ful­ly good ed­i­to­ri­al in the LA Times (free reg­is­tra­tion re­quired) about executive-pay fol­lies in the de­com­pos­ing corpse of Key3Me­di­a, best-known as pro­mot­er of Comdex, an­oth­er de­com­pos­ing corpse ...
 
A Lot of People Looking · Some­body won­dered what old friend X is up to, and I know he's on the Web so I checked, and he's look­ing for work. This has hap­pened a lot in re­cent month­s. There is a lot of se­ri­ous, deep, high-quality tal­ent out there wait­ing for the econ­o­my to snap back ...
 
Overheard conversation · In a cof­fee shop: "Business was OK but I had to quit be­cause the CEO and I, one of us was gonna kill the oth­er. He was a ly­ing fuck and a pompous self-important ass­hole ...
 
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