Archive: September 23, 2003

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Pick a War

Tuesday,  09/23/03  11:35 PM

Halley writes Pick a War, any War.  "Do you really think Bush's economic war on the middle class, is any less lethal than his military war?"  So, I really like Halley, but this is wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start.

First, let’s be clear that the war in Iraq saved lives.  Many.  So far about 400 coalition soldiers have died.  Maybe 10,000 Iraqi soldiers died, and about 2,000 civilians have died in war-related action.  That’s horrible, but before the war over 15,000 people were being killed every month in Iraq.  Not dying, being killed.  So the Iraq war is not lethal.  You don't have to agree with the war or feel that it was worth spending money or lives fighting, but this is a fact.

Second, let’s be clear that the U.S. economy is not killing anyone.  Maybe metaphorically, but hardly in actual fact.  This is a crummy analogy.

Third, Bush hasn't vaporized any jobs.  The economy has done that without any explicit action or lack of action from him.  You know what the biggest thing slowing down our economic recovery has been?  9/11.  Yep, the terrorist attacks did a huge amount of damage to the economy, ask anyone who works for an airline, or a car rental company, or a hotel chain.  Or a software company.  Far more than $87B in damage, in fact, probably close to ten times that much.  Preventing further attacks is a sound investment.  You can argue about whether the investment will pay off – maybe you'd rather invest the $87B in schools, or tax relief, or business stimulation – but you can't argue with the economic logic of trying to prevent further terrorism.

(Oh and by the way, the economy is recovering.  We had this huge bubble, remember, and it popped?  And that surely wasn't Bush’s fault.  The market was already heading for the tank when he took over.)

I first wrote this in an email exchange with Halley.  She disagrees - obviously! - but was respectful about it.  My first email to her was not.  So sorry, Halley, and thanks for being an adult.


More Oh not Oooh

Tuesday,  09/23/03  11:41 PM

My Oh not Oooh post made the PDC Bloggers blog, and attracted some comment from James Robertson, Martin SpeddingSteve Maine, Greg Hurlman, among others.

Their comments are all worth reading and I can't do them justice, but I want to reiterate my central point.  Microsoft would be best served by making their new technologies easy to use.  That doesn't seem controversial, does it?

One of the reactions people had to my post was "sorry if it isn't easy, but this new stuff is new, and so yeah, you have to invest some time in understanding it".  Well that's okay.  I'm no longer programming in assembler, at some point I learned C (and C++, and Java, and C#), and I'm not longer programming using the "Petzold SDK", at some point I learned MFC (and .NET).  The point wasn't that we shouldn't have new development technologies.  (Some of them are worthwhile and make things easier and better, or enable things which could never have been done before.)

I was reacting to the way the MS people seem to be positioning their new development technologies.  They appear to be stressing the coolness and complexity and even the mysticism, and not the ease of use.  And I don't think that's helpful.  Cool is okay, but complexity is not okay, and mysticism is most definitely out of place.  I've found in 100% of the cases, the best development technologies are falling out of a chair easy to understand and use.  And those are also the ones that get the best adoption. 

In the same vein, yesterday Philip Greenspun posted Java is the SUV of programming tools, and was immediately slashdotted.  "A project done in Java will cost 5 times as much, take twice as long, and be harder to maintain than a project done in a scripting language such as PHP or Perl."  Read it if you haven't already, he hits the nail right on the head.

So here's the question for the MS presenters at the PDC.  If a project done in Java / JSP costs 5 times as much as a project done with Perl, where does that leave C# / .NET?  Is it really easier?

Hey, thanks for listening, and CU@DPDC!


Tuesday,  09/23/03  11:45 PM

SpaceX has a new update out...  This is one of my favorite companies to watch.  Their ultimate goal is to put people into orbit.  There's some interesting remarks in the update about the difference between sending people (or anything) "into space", and sending them into orbit; it takes about 25X more energy to put them in orbit.  Note this differentiates SpaceX from other companies which are merely trying to win the X-prize (put a person "into space").

The Ward Hunt ice pack, the largest ice shelf in the Arctic and a feature for 3,000 years, has broken up.  "Local warming of the climate is to blame, they said -- adding that they did not have the evidence needed to link the melting ice to the steady, planet-wide climate change known as global warming."  Hmmm...

Kevin Laws on Toppling Ticketmaster.  "Unfortunately, all the fall of the recording industry will accomplish is to deliver the industry to a player with even more power: Ticketmaster."  Naval Ravikant says it isn't quite that bad, because Ticketmaster ain't eBay.  "At Ebay, a large number of relatively undifferentiated sellers go to sell relatively commoditized, mostly physical products.  Ticket sales are at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum -- they are heavily branded and differentiated virtual products."  Great stuff.

WSJ announces Camera Phones Pass Milestone In Photo Market.  "For the first time, global sales of cellphones with built-in cameras surpassed sales of conventional digital cameras."  Wow, that's amazing.

And that's why Some Gyms Ban Cell Phones.

Students all have cell phones, PDAs, and laptops.  Which is great, except they are distracting (passing notes in class has nothing on text messaging) and encourage cheating (crib notes on the PDA, anyone?)  Yahoo reports Schools Set Rules on Classroom Gadgets.  Short of banning them completely - hard to enforce! - what can you really do?

Entry-point Tivos are now down to $199 (with rebate).  That's exciting.  Then you go to WeaKnees and upgrade!

Roku is a new company which makes an HTDV connection device for music and pictures stored on your PC.  Doesn't do movies - yet.  (Why not?)  [ via John Robb ]

Panasonic has a TV with an integrated DVD burner.  Okay, that's different.  How soon before we see TVs with integrated PVRs?  That has to be next, right?  I wouldn't be surprised or amazed.

Think VoIP isn't the Next Big Thing?  Well, check this out.  Dartmouth is making free VoIP available to all students in their dorms.  "The roll out of voice over Internet protocol is closely coupled with Dartmouth's recent decision to stop charging students, faculty and staff for long-distance phone calls.  The college made that decision when administrators discovered that the billing function was costing more than the calls themselves."  Okay, did you get that?  It is less expensive to give away VoIP than it is to bill for analog calling.  Wow.

Want to know how often you're Googled?  Glenn Fleishmann says it's easy, just buy Google AdWords for your name...

My $.02 on this - save your money and look in your referer logs.  That way you'll know how many times people have clicked through from Google, which is actually more interesting...

In other Google news, they've launched a beta of Search by Location.  You enter a search string and a location (address, zip code, city) and they deliver results in that area, along with a map.  Pretty cool!


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