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Apple Drops Anticopying Measures in iTunes
Topic: Business 11:38 pm EST, Jan  7, 2009

Last month, the music industry pulled out its stun guns, aka PR flacks, to bring you the following breaking news:

In a stunning turn of events, the US music industry has ceased its long-time litigation strategy of suing individual P2P file-swappers.

Earlier today, Apple briefly summoned the world's attention to bring you the following incredible (!!!) news flash:

Apple said it would begin selling song downloads from all four major music companies without the anticopying measures that have been part of its iTunes store since it opened in 2003. It will also move away from its insistence on pricing songs at 99 cents.

In other words, Apple's software engineers are so distraught over Steve Jobs' failing health that they have resorted to spinning the deletion of annoying source code as a major product innovation.

Does this sound familiar? Let John Markoff take you back:

Long assailed within the computer industry for routinely adding too many features to its software programs, Microsoft will tacitly acknowledge that criticism today when it starts a Web marketing campaign for its new Office XP software suite that ridicules its notorious Office help system.

The Clippy campaign, which will cost about $500,000, also includes a Web-site-based computer game in which irate users, many of whom have long found the paper clip program annoying to the point of distraction, will finally be able to retaliate by shooting virtual staples, tacks and rubber bands at the animated Clippy figure.

The story behind the story, of course, is that the "music industry" -- by which I mean the cartel engaged in organized trafficking in an artificially scarce form of antique "performance capture" -- is an industry in decline, and the major players are desperate to stanch the flow of attention to other "new" (and more participatory) media. Regardless of these late-stage efforts, the decline, which is both inevitable and inexorable, may be viewed as a leading indicator of a broader, long-term phase shift in celebrity culture.

From the archive:

The trick is to make people think that a certain paradigm is inevitable, and they had better give in.


Someone from the future, I’m sure, will marvel at our blindness and at the hole we have driven ourselves into, for we are completely committed to an unsustainable technology.

In this case, what's unsustainable is not just the artificial scarcity of individual captured performances, but rather of the underlying capture technology, not to mention the performance itself.


But for everyone, surely, ... this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.

Very different is the mood today.

Apple Drops Anticopying Measures in iTunes

Digital Domain - What Carriers Aren’t Eager to Tell You About Texting -
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:09 pm EST, Dec 28, 2008

TEXT messaging is a wonderful business to be in: about 2.5 trillion messages will have been sent from cellphones worldwide this year. The public assumes that the wireless carriers’ costs are far higher than they actually are, and profit margins are concealed by a heavy curtain.

Digital Domain - What Carriers Aren’t Eager to Tell You About Texting -

The Innovation Problem
Topic: Technology 4:08 pm EST, Dec 28, 2008

A series of Paul Graham's articles has led me to something I'm calling the Innovation Problem. Essentially it started when I read his article After Credentials. I enjoyed it article, but found this part is odd:

Do they let energetic young people get paid market rate for the work they do? The young are the test, because when people aren't rewarded according to performance, they're invariably rewarded according to seniority instead.
If people who are young but smart and driven can make more by starting their own companies than by working for existing ones, the existing companies are forced to pay more to keep them.

This statement about motives seemed out of sync with his essay Great Hackers:

Great programmers are sometimes said to be indifferent to money. This isn't quite true. It is true that all they really care about is doing interesting work. But if you make enough money, you get to work on whatever you want, and for that reason hackers are attracted by the idea of making really large amounts of money. But as long as they still have to show up for work every day, they care more about what they do there than how much they get paid for it.

Perhaps this is because Graham is talking about a general case of person in the first essary and a subset of people (Specifically great programmers) in the second.

Now, I don't consider myself a super hacker and nor would I ever compare myself to someone like RTM or others Graham has mentioned. Quite the contrary I've gone out of my way to deny unwarranted comparisons. I do however consider myself a hacker and I understand exactly what Graham means in his 2nd essay.

I think that performance metrics are one half of a two sided coin, depending on what drives you are a person: pay or project.

Let me explain. I work for a Fortune 15 technology corporation. They pay me very, very, very well. However in return I'm subjected to (with a fair bit of good things) unbelievably stupid bullshit. They don't seem to realize that I couldn't give 2 shits about their money otherwise I'd have alot less bullshit in my life.

Jay Chaudhry met with me twice in the spring of 2008 and asked me to join his new start up Zscalar. I turned him down for a couple reasons, the biggest being he kept appealing to the wrong side of me. He kept talking dollars, he never talked projects. How are you doing "in the cloud" security. Are you buying or building? ... [ Read More (0.4k in body) ]

The Innovation Problem

Bulgaria to host Kamsky - Topalov match in 2009
Topic: Games 8:28 am EST, Nov 20, 2008

Vesela Lecheva, Chairman of the State Agency for Youth and Sports, supported the bid of the Bulgarian Chess Federation to organize the semifinal match for the world championship title between Veselin Topalov and Gata Kamsky, Radio Gong reported. Having in mind the importance of the competition and its complex preparation, and in order to provide optimal conditions for the players and the media, Bulgaria suggested this match to take place from 3rd to 15th February 2009. Possible hosts are Sofia, Plovdiv, Veliko Turnovo and Bansko.

In a letter sent to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Ms. Lecheva stressed that all necessary financial guarantees are ready. Meanwhile, Bulgaria is surprised with the change of financial parameters for the match, which expanded to 300 thousand U.S. dollars, without clear argumentation.

Bulgaria to host Kamsky - Topalov match in 2009

EFF sues Cheney, Bush, and the NSA to stop illegal wiretapping - Boing Boing
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:28 pm EDT, Sep 20, 2008

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed suit against the NSA, President Bush and Vice President Cheney on behalf of AT&T's customers to fight illegal wiretapping.

I know this is totally beside the point, but don't you wish that this actually was the NSA logo?

EFF sues Cheney, Bush, and the NSA to stop illegal wiretapping - Boing Boing

Biden gave average of $369 to charity a year
Topic: Politics and Law 8:09 pm EDT, Sep 14, 2008

WASHINGTON — Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife gave an average of $369 a year to charity during the past decade, his tax records show.

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's campaign today released 10 years' worth of tax returns for Biden, a senator from Delaware, and his wife Jill, a community college instructor. The Bidens reported earning $319,853 last year, including $71,000 in royalties for his memoir, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics.

The Bidens reported giving $995 in charitable donations last year — about 0.3% of their income and the highest amount in the past decade. The low was $120 in 1999, about 0.1% of yearly income.

Over the decade, the Bidens reported a total of $3,690 in charitable donations, or 0.2% of their income.

Biden gave average of $369 to charity a year

Congress sends bill raising fuel efficiency standards to Bush -
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:24 am EST, Dec 19, 2007

The energy bill, boosting mileage by 40 percent to 35 miles per gallon, passed the House 314-100 and now goes to the White House, following the Senate's approved last week.

Woo-hoo! 2020 is a long way off, but this increase has taken over 30 years to wrestle from the Republicans. Will it come to fruition? Will it narrow our range of choices to Scions and Saturns? Who the hell knows?! But at least we've finally gotten the auto lobby off their butts and motivated them to REALLY do something, and I mean more than just a few hybrids here and there.

-janelane, super-thrilled

Congress sends bill raising fuel efficiency standards to Bush -

Gore Gets A Cold Shoulder
Topic: Science 9:27 pm EDT, Oct 16, 2007

One of the world's foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize "ridiculous" and the product of "people who don't understand how the atmosphere works." Dr William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, told a packed lecture hall at the University of North Carolina that humans were not responsible for the warming of the Earth.

"The human impact on the atmosphere is simply too small to have a major effect on global temperatures," Dr Gray said. He said his beliefs had made him an outsider in popular science. "It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong," he said. "But they also know that they'd never get any grants if they spoke out. I don't care about grants."

Gore Gets A Cold Shoulder

My programming rules 2.2
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:40 am EDT, Apr  4, 2007

I'm bored today so I decided to update my programming rules, make a 2.2 if you will, I know the smart ones out there never trust a 1.0 anyways...

My Rules (2.2):
1. Kludges that we'll fix in the next release never get fixed in the next release...

2. If you don’t do it right now, you (or some poor bastard that replaces you) will have to do it right later...

3. It always costs more to do it later...

4. You're not going to have more funding for the next release. (thanks Decius)

5. Beware of anyone in a suit...

6. The man in charge usually didn't get there by being better than everyone else; keep that in mind.

7. If you don't talk to your customers to see what will make them happy, then sooner or later someone else will...

8. Sales guys can be powerful allies for interoffice BS, but if you make yourself too available they will never leave you alone...

9. Management has no idea what the customer wants...

10. Engineering has even less idea what the customer wants...

11. Assume every engineer you work with is an idiot, try not to let on that you know...if you find engineers that are obviously not idiots, find a way to keep them...

12. Never outsource your core competency...

13. Laziness and incompetence are contagious...

14. No-one cares if you read Wikipedia all day every day if you get your work done on time...

15. If they do care, find another place to work...

16. Your code is not finished until you've tested it...

17. Never assume they have tested their code...

18. Simple regression testing is best done when it’s automated; it’s less error prone too.

19. Engineers that think lack of documentation is job security should be fired sooner rather than later (otherwise you'll make them right)...

20. Contrary to popular belief, third party libraries reduce portability of your code...

21. "Cool" is not a business case...

22. Engineering’s job is to say yes, no matter how stupid management's requests are...good engineers find ways to say yes that spotlight their intelligence and managements stupidity...(e.g. if they ask you to turn lead into gold, tell them you will if they allocate a few trillion dollars and a fusion reactor)...

23. The night before its due is probably not the best time to start integrating your code in a large project...

24. You can be really good at your job, and a dick, or you can be so so at your job and a really nice cannot be a dick and bad at your job...

25. Time estimation is really will take longer than you think it will...

26. Demonstrating that your competitors suck isn't enough to get anyone to buy your product...

27. Don't ship anything you're not proud of...

28. Your code will be used in ways you never thought of...plan accordingly...

29. If you can't settle on one way of doing something, do it both ways and make it a co... [ Read More (0.7k in body) ]

My programming rules 2.2

Topic: Miscellaneous 10:37 pm EDT, Apr  2, 2007

Now that's a tower. It has been upgraded to eight legs (instead of four) which makes it a confusing lattice of steel at the base.


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