mPulse

Thursday, March 31, 2005

April Fool’s/Poisson d’Avril From Google!

http://www.google.com/googlegulp/

All of that Google goodness, now with a refreshing citrus flavour!

How to get Gulped?
You can pick up your own supply of this "limited release" product simply by turning in a used Gulp Cap at your local grocery store. How to get a Gulp Cap? Well, if you know someone who's already been "gulped," they can give you one. And if you don't know anyone who can give you one, don't worry – that just means you aren't cool. But very, very (very!) soon, you will be.


Wait, this BETA Program sounds familiar! Wonder where they got it from!



Sero-Tonic Water – Just try to stay down once your synapses get a blast of this bubbly concoction whose refreshing blend of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors is perfect for those moments when all your other beverage options just seem soooo depressing.


Sounds far better than my morning Wellbutrin/Paxil Grande Latte!

Ben Ramsey has 50 Google Gulp Caps to give away! [here]

Scoble may have the inside track to the Microsoft response...ask him; I dare you!

John Battelle critiques this year's Google Poisson d'Avril. [here]

More here and here.

Cool! The Latest Windows Patch Worked!



Care of the Frog Blog.

Apple Bloggers Sent Underground By Overzealous Legal Department?

The title should give you some idea about what the post is about. And before you flame me, realize that I know there are a great number of dedicated Apple Bloggers out there. The concept driving this post is something that has been tickling the back of my brain for a week now: the lack of and silence from bloggers who work directly for Apple.

John Moore of Brand Autopsy comments on Guy Kawasaki, the Evangelists' Evangelist, stating that he is tired of defending Apple. [here]

Apple has micromanged their branding and corporate message to such a degree that they cannot, will not, tolerate ANY deviation from the company line. By anyone. Including the hordes of excited, motivated, and deicated Apple Fanatics.

Apple, currently you have the cool factor on your side. I have become a victim of your message: I LUST for (not want, not desire, but LUST for) a Powerbook. However, as lust is want to do, it may cool when the sun rises and all is exposed in the true light.

So Apple, how do you want your fanatics to speak of you? As the company with the cool tech who puts the chill into even the most firebrand brand evangelist? Or the company that encourages, motivates and invigorates the discussion and dissemination by their brand evangelists, no matter who they are?

If you work at Apple and you are reading this, which answer do you see coming out of the Marketing Department?

How close to the edge do you live?

This morning, on my way to work, I heard on NPR Michelle Kennedy describe how she spent a summer homeless after leaving her husband. [here]

The story reminded me just how close so many of us live to that edge. The edge I am talking about is the one that separates you from the street. I live far too close to that edge for my liking, and the exposure is doubled when you factor in that I am a stranger in a strange land.

To think that I could expose my family to the trauma of homelessness weighs on me everyday. And why do I have to worry about it.

Because it's the American Way.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

SMART on Target

Peter Davidson and I should form the SMART Car Club of America. [here]

Look at this groovy pic on Flickr!

Apdex — A New and Interesting Web Measurement Group

If you are a Performance and Measurement geek like I am, this looks to be a new and possibly interesting organization -- Apdex

Scott Haugdahl of WildPackets gives us his thoughts about it. [WildPackets is one of the charter members of Apdex]

Pete Sevcik is interviewed about it here. Peter's paper is published in the Business Communication Review and CIO Today (complete with a call for folks to join the organization). [here]

St. Peter Works in Collections



Great. Now they are making me pay fines after I die...Thanks to Seth Godin

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Life in the Dogosphere

Shel Israel nails one quarter of my life in this post.

The Damnation Hound


The infamous Damnation Hound (50% Dalmation; 50% Basset Hooooooouuuuunnnnd!) is very demanding, and appears to have the smallest bladder in the known universe. This gives her the opportunity to drag me off my sorry butt at 3 times a night and 4-5 times of weekends for a trot around the neighbourhood.

So, how would you react to a Damnation Hound? Most people laugh; that's what Samantha did when she saw her at Buddy Dog in Sudbury. But she is a great conversation starter!

I miss the beaches on the West Coast; Revere Beach just isn't the same as the wild and untamed surf at San Gregorio Beach. Maybe the Damnation Hound and I will play on that beach again some day.

Blog Smackdown!

Mr. Scoble and Mr. Winer:

Thank you for helping to load test my server.

Blog Log Graph -- March 29, 2005

Wow! Cool!

One bad apple in the barrel….[NOT ABOUT APPLE COMPUTERS]

One bad server. One slightly brain-damaged load-balancer.

Dell Error Message


Ouch

Web Analytics Industry Shake up

NetIQ sold off WebTrends to Francisco Partners. [here]

I always wondered about the NetIQ deal, so it's nice to see WebTrends on it's own again...but it is now going up against Google.

More on the deals here and here

More from SVW here.

John Battelle With more comments on Web Analytics Shake-Up 2005. [here]

Andrew Goodman has a great Urchin/Google Round-Up. [here]

Monday, March 28, 2005

Google in the Web Analytics Field — Web Benchmarks

Ouch. I thought this one was worthy of some analysis. Google acquire Urchin. [and here]

Why does this make sense? As one of the comments to the link above states, the link between search algorithms makes some sense, as you will be able quickly isolate and identify trends within the reams of visitor data that is collected daily.

This makes linking business performance and visitor traffic that much easier for large enterprise firms. If they can link visitor traffic quickly to revenue and cost data with a simple and powerful search tool, the sale becomes that much easier.

I am working on a project to re-define Web performance benchmarks, and this type of tool would be crucial in that process. Web Benchmarking as it is currently stands is broken and outdated. Attempts are being made on all sides to try and re-define how businesses measure and benchmark their Web performance so that it can fit into a larger business context.

Is a faster site more profitable? Or simply more costly? Does increased traffic improve or reduce revenue?

A tool that allow companies to quickly link performance and analytics data gets firms that much closer to a holistic view of Web performance.

How to get Home

Distance between Marlborough, Massachusetts, United States and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, as the crow flies:

2506 miles (4033 km) (2178 nautical miles)


Initial heading from Marlborough to Victoria:
west-northwest (298.2 degrees)
Initial heading from Victoria to Marlborough:
east (80.0 degrees)


Care of Indio and Tim Yang

Smart Cars; Stupid Marketing — Part 2

As a follow-up to my post commenting on Peter Davidson's post...

Peter takes yet another swing at Daimler/Chrysler's boneheaded marketing department. [here]

GIVE ME MY SMART CAR!

Cubes v. Open Space

Interesting posting on this topic here.

I vote for cubes. I prefer to have some space to call my own, especially for the 10 hours a day I spend there.

iPod Headphones

BL Ochman comments on her iPod Headphones. [here]

I'm not sure where she got her Sony headphones, but I have had mine for a couple of years and they are so much better than the ear-buds that came with my iPod Shuffle. I keep thinking that the Pod earbuds should go in the trash...errr, garbage. [I hate it when Americanisms slip into my writing/speaking!]

If you have a hundred bucks burning a hole in your pocket, go with the Etymotic Isolators. I don't, so the Sony Fontopia's (in black) work just fine.

Broswer Percentage — March 27, 2005

This is the Browser Percentage breakdown for The Newest Industry over past 30 days.

Browser Percentage Graph -- March 27,2005

This is a part of an ongoing series inspired by the browser percentage graph at ongoing.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Dave Winer on Silicon Valley, and a Rant on California Education Funding

Dave Winer notes that Silicon Valley isn't what it used to be. [here]

Now, with Yahoo getting its mojo back [here and here], and a few other happenings in the Valley, there are some signs of life.

But there is still a lot of vacant real-estate. The office buildings that housed Webvan are still vacant after 3 years, and they have a great view of the Bay and the San Mateo bridge. There is still a vacuum there.

I can't speak of the lap dogs, as I am a mere prole.

However, I do disagree with the comment Dave W. makes about schools. If he is referring to Colleges and Universities, ok, I agree. But the public school system in the Bay area, and in California in general, is one of the reasons why I was not too upset to move to Massachusetts.

My kids were going into the highly underfunded, if not malnourished and dying, system of non-education in California that resulted from one of the greatest breeders of inequity in the modern world -- Proposition 13.

I love this statement from Warren Buffett:
Buffett cited the inequity of property taxes he pays on his homes in Omaha, Neb., and Laguna Beach, Calif., and said the California cap on property taxes imposed by Prop. 13 "makes no sense."

His $500,000 house in Omaha has a tax bill of $14,401. His $4 million house in Laguna Beach has a tax bill of $2,264. The taxes on his Omaha home increased $1,920 this year, compared with $23 on the Laguna Beach home, he said.

Complain about the other taxes; then remember that your kids are going to schools that are 40th in the US by funding.

I miss the great garden we had. But my kids are learning more by not being in California Public Schools.


Heard this on NPR on the way home tonight. very relevant to this discussion.

Zawodny: Wordpress v. MT

Jeremy Zawodny weighs in with some comments on the growing differences in the Wordpress and MT user groups. [here]

I agree with his comments, as I use b2evolution, which is effectively a branch in the Wordpress family. It is all native PHP with a simple MySQL backend that I can run on a relatively underpowered server in my basement, and still look like I know what I am doing.

Heck, the app even survived a Scobelization last week.

Why b2evo over MT? I took a look a MT when I was shopping around for blog software to do self-hosting with when I wanted to move off TypePad, and when I read the MT user manual, I walked away. Sure, it may be richly featured and extremely powerful, but this is a hobby, not my life.

b2evo was so simple I neary cried. I unpacked the tarball, made some minor changes and I was blogging.

So, I thing that JZ is right on when he differentiates the two user populations. They will both be wildly successful, but WP will be for self-startes and maintainers, while MT will rely on highly-skilled IT teams for implementation and maintenance.

There is no good or bad; just different.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

If you are hiring me because of where I went to school…

...then I don't want to work for you. [here]

Fred Wilson nails this one. I am someone who has a degree from a good Canadian University, a technical certificate that allowed me to get a job, and then 6 years of very intensive work experience to get where I am right now.

I consider that my six years of on the job training better than any degree program I could have gone through, as I was able to focus on the key topics that affect my specialty as a part of real-world scenarios. A sterile, controlled academic environment could not have given me that experience, or even prepared me for it.

If someone tells me they went to an "prestigious" university, I say "So, what can you do?". I have learned that you get your "street cred" by doing, not being.

So, Mr./Ms. MBA from an Ivy League/"Prestigious" university -- what can you do to make my customers want to work with us? What will you do to make my company "remarkable"?

Do it; don't be it.

Dude! You’re getting a suit!

David Parmet, one of the very few people who reads this blog regularly, has done some amazing US PR work on behalf of Tom Mahon of the English Cut.

As a reward, he is getting a finely crafted, hand cut, stitched and fitted bespoke suit.

If my style wasn't mountain climber casual, I would be jealous.

Friday, March 25, 2005

How to beat an incumbent competitor: Don’t

Ed Sim has some great comments on how small firms can play against competitive firms that are incumbent in the same space. [here]

I work for the smaller competitor of the incumbent in our market, so I have seen the ups and downs of our approach. We do suffer from some of the faults that are listed here, but we also shine in some of the areas Ed talks about.

It was just a refreshing piece to read on a slow, thought-piece Friday afternoon.

Stupid GrabIP Bug

Found a stupid GrabIP bug last night. When I clicked on one of the IP addresses in my log analysis system, it showed that the visitor was from Nigeria, then threw an error when the WHOIS attempted to get more information.

I realized that I did not have the code to handle the AFRINIC Registry in my tool. DOH! A simple fix and everything is good.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Stephen O’Grady and “Continuous Partial Attention”

Stephen O'Grady describes "continuous partial attention" in this post. He notes Scoble's decision to retire the link blog and try and devote more time to his life.

How much is too much? That is a question we all fight with daily. I currently have a half-finished Zen book, Beyond Bullets, and a long article out of the Harvard Business Review in paper reading.

I track 143 blogs...which makes me a lightweight, I know. But it is amazing how much I have learned and absorbed by doing this. How this has changed my view on things I look at every day.

But SO'Grady also talks about having times when you aren't connected; where you can be free of the shackles. I read about folks who suck down a book a day. I am lucky if I can string together enough time in a day to read 5 pages.

I definitely suffer from "continuous partial attention", a cousin of ADHD.




Even Steve Rubel is detecting the trend of blogging burnout. [here and here]

Alan Meckler squashes the rumour that Jupiter Research is on the block

Read it here.

Interesting that most of the people who came to read my post about the sale rumour came from Forrester Research. Perhaps this is an indication that they were as surprised as I was.

I wonder if Brian Kardon, chief strategist and marketing officer at Forrester, would like to post a comment to set the record straight, as he is the one quoted in the article. Or perhaps Alan Meckler will comment on his theory why someone would want to start a rumour like this.

Jupiter Research Up for Sale

This post contains stale information.

Please go here for the latest.




Damn. Looks like the analyst world is going to be a hell of a lot smaller in the next few months.

So, with that in mind, who is going to be the unbiased source of information for companies?

[here ]




This article has seen a lot of traffic today. If any of the folks reading this have more info on this story, drop me a line.

Two Career Families and the Death of Unstructured Time

Travis Smith points to this AP article on the death of the family in the two-income world. [here]

Samantha and I have discussions about this topic on a regular basis. We are a one-income family by choice and by restriction (Visa restrictions prevent Samantha from working in the US). However, the concept of scheduling our children's lives to the point where we are using other people to raise and rear them is broken and failed in my mind.

I am not anti-activity. I believe that a child who is to be properly socialized in today's world needs to interact with and engage in some structured activities with other children/people.

However, as much as they drive me/us nuts, Samantha and I are the main caregivers to our children. I work 7AM - 4PM every day to ensure that I am home for supper, bathtime, stories and tuck-in.

On weekends, the boys and I try and do at least one activity together. As a family, we do one big outing every weekend. The boys are free to do what they want, when they want, with parental consent. They play. they build. They draw. Cameron is better with a hammer than I am, and I caught him using the cordless drill one day (he's six), complete with eye-protection, and I did not object because he knows how to use it!

My boys are extremely imaginative. Kinnear tells incredibly inventive stories, and loves to give visitors a tour of the house, describing each room in detail (he's 3.5).

So, will my kids be the MBAs of the future? Will they lead corporations and make decisions that change the course of history?

Probably not.

But my children will be able to think, adapt, and dream. And to me, the ability to do these things beats the structured, scheduled, contolled thing called "existence" that is described in the article. It is not a life; it is an existence.

Give your kids a life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Using Dell To Secure Your Mac Mini

I actually have two of these old Optiplex cases in my basement... [here]

Via Neuvo

Weird threads on the VC Blogs

Lots of inward-looking thoughts from some of the VC blogs that I read.

Jeff Nolan flames alarm:clock for claiming that VCs are greedy, soulless vampires [my paraphrasing].

A VC and Brad Feld comment on Paul Graham's Essay, "A Unified Theory of VC Suckage".

I wonder why so much attention is now being focused on the VC community? I kinda like them, as they have provided me with two very solid companies to work for over the last 6 years.

My opinion, not backed up by any facts or knowledge, is that there is a new bubble occurring, and people are already looking for someone to lay the blame on when it bursts.

The VC community, on the other hand, has learned a lot over the intervening years. To claim that they are going to let the madness that occurred 1995-2000 to occur again is highly unlikely. The bubble is occurring because there are smart companies driving smart ideas to people who are now ready to use them.

Now, whether the VCs will drive this bubble like they drove the last one remains to be seen. I think that the caution and conservatism (if that word can be applied to the VC community) that arose from the flame-out in 2000-2001 will see more firms driving their own success through the methods seen in Paul Graham's other essay, "How to Start a Startup".

Viewsonic Supercomputer

Via AdRants

Either a joke or a simple error, Amazon has listed a Viewsonic monitor as a computer having a 10GB chip, 2,000 DIMM, a 30,000 GB hard drive and weighing 14 hundredths-pounds. All for $2,312.95. Certainly, there will be computers that powerful someday soon but not right now. One reviewer raved about the "product," writing, "This laptop is the bargain of the decade. 10.00GHZ of power. I use one to currently calculate the meaning of life, the universe and everything. I even caught it calculating on how to make the perfect cup of tea. The speed that this laptop can move at is nothing short of outstanding. Shame it doesn't have legs though."


Viewsonic Supercomputer


Another one of the comments on this product.

I got one of these for the multi-OS capability. So far, it runs HP-UX, Red Hat, BSD (2 flavors), XENIX, OS X, AIX, AppleDOS, Solaris, DG-UX, Netware, Debian, Mandrake, CP/M, QNX, Win 3.11, Win95, Win95b, Win98, Win98se, WinME, WinCE, Os/2, NT [34], Windows server 200[03], DR-DOS, & BeOS, all in separate windows. Couldn't load SCO - licensing issues. We also managed to get Lotus Agenda working pretty well; we dumped the entire Internet into Agenda and were able to solve most of the world's crimes and determine who on the planet is related to whom. And we were able to use the included Cray Supercomputer Simulator (4 instances simultaneously) to beat Deep Blue and Baby Blue at chess, at the same time. Nice machine. But I think soon I'll need an upgrade.

Ok, Canadians Rule

As soon as the characters started speaking in this vicious and detailed bit of parody, I knew it was Canadian. [here, 32mb MP4]

And sure enough, Avion Films is a Canadian ad agency.

I miss my home country.

care of Site-9.

Smart Cars; Stupid Marketing

Daimler/Chrysler, in yet another feat of misunderstanding of the US market, is missing out on the chance to sell the single coolest car in the world in the US: The SMART Car.

Peter Davidson points out that D/C is thinking of killing the SMART in the US.

This is a shame, because this means that I will never have the chance to lust after a SMART, the same way I lust after a Powerbook, Moleskine, and a really good professional digital camera.

Daimler/Chrysler: I am in your most desirable demographic. I am looking for a new car. I WANT a SMART Car.

How do you plan to deal with that, Daimler/Chrysler?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Customer Service with a GROWL!

Seth Godin pointed this out. [here]

iBackups.net Splash Page

They will probably start legal action against me for posting this.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Google’s Community Conscience Crushes Web Site

Travis Smith points out that Google, out of the goodness of it's heart while trying to raise awareness for World Water Day, accidentally crushed the Web site of the group organizing this event, worldwaterday.org. [here]

Travis poses the excellent question about asking your Web provider how they will handle a huge spike in traffic. Can you throttle bandwidth? Does it make sense to recruit a content-delivery network to help distribute the load?

The other question I have is: Did Google tell/ask the World Water Day group about putting their site on one of the busiest pages of the entire Internet?

Nothing like being ambushed by well-meaning folks.

The UNESCO site for World Water Day is still up, if you would like more information. [here]

Mini-Microsoft: The Anti-Scoble

While Robert Scoble represents the "Look at all of the cool things we're doing" side of Microsoft, Mini-Microsoft shows us the dark, Dilbertian side of the NimbleBeast (Should I trademark that?).

In his latest post, Mini-MSFT points out how the HR process has become almost Orwellian in it's self-referencing duh-ness. I am not sure I could work at a company that is described this way.

So if you're a Microsoftie, take a moment to go through some of the new, emerging competencies nested in the Career Model site. The old competencies pretty much represent crisp, common-sense focused attributes divided into four increasingly challenging levels. The new competencies seem to be a cut-and-paste job of buzz-worded business jargon arbitrarily divided into four columns of no particular difference. For instance, in one of the competencies there are attributes in Level 4 that I sure know I'd be fired for not doing every day an issue came up at work.


Indeed.

Anyone want a potentially profitable conference idea?

Sometimes, working for a company and being an "enemy" alien in the United States is a pain in the butt. It means that sometimes you have to write a blog post, read it again and say, "Well, that's just plum crazy to post publicly!".

I came up with a great small conference/forum idea that I would like to run with. However, getting involved in or organizing such a project would see me get:


  • slammed by my company

  • thrown out of my job

  • thrown out my house

  • dragged to the 49th parallel and thrown back into Canada



It is something I believe in, would pursue like a rabid dog, and would love to participate in, as a speaker or as a simple attendee.

I would pay money if there was an event like this that was not driven by the companies in the field.

If anyone, particularly independent conference organizers or small/medium-sized companies/consultancies/analyst firms, would like to take my idea and develop it, I would be grateful. I hate to see my one good idea from this week get wasted.

Travel, Experience, and a Case Against Inertia

I like to go on business trips. My current role is one that does not allow me to go to many conferences, or attend workshops, or present to groups. I've stopped griping about it; it's the way it is.

However, I read Joi Ito all of the time, and I know that if I hadn't wasted 10 years of my life, I might have as much geek cred, respect, knowledge, experience and sage wisdom to offer to groups.

The same goes for Tim Bray. My fave Canadian Sun employee is going to be doing a lot of travelling this Spring/Summer. [here and here and here and here]

What does this have to do with me? I am sitting in my attic, wondering what skills I could leverage to make people want to work with me. How do I make myself remarkable, wow!, cool, hip (or unhip)?

I guess it all boils down to a question of timimg, connections, and other assorted things.

Browser Percentage — 30 Days (March 21, 2005)

This is the Browser Percentage breakdown for The Newest Industry over past 30 days.

Browser Percentage Graph -- March 21, 2005

This is a part of an ongoing series inspired by the browser percentage graph at ongoing.

The sudden shift upward on the part of Gecko and Safari browsers comes from the site being Scobelized on Saturday, March 19, 2005.

Explanation to connectivity outages

Comcast came out this morning and found water in the splitter on the outside of the house.

Your regularly scheduled program shall be much more regular now.

IAC/Ask a simple media play

John Battelle agrees with me: the Ask/IAC deal is simply just another media deal. [here]

Thoughts about watching the New Tech Bubble

It is interesting working in a post-bubble company, watching the companies on the edge of the newly expanding bubbles of search, Web services, blogging and social networking start to try and find ways to link and grow together.

Ask, after buying Bloglines, gets acquired by IAC. Yahoo acquires Flickr. MSN has Spaces; Microsoft buys a file-sharing company; Microsoft has skunkworks projects at Start.com. Google just announced that they are looking for a UI developer to help revive and restore the flagging Blogger service.

The question that arises in my mind is whether these mergers will allow these large companies to effectively control access to what we can and cannot do online.

Now, I am not trying to be orwellian, I am just pointing out that there is likely to be a large amount of control and centralization in these outlets. In some cases, this will be good, providing us with services and features that were unattainable in the smaller company.

On the Dark Side, the benefits could be subsumed in a flood of meaningless co-linked content for tickets, shopping, and other detritus that has yet to overwhelm the new personalized blogging/peer-to-peer/social-networking universe that has "suddenly" appeared since 2000.

The cry of the Internet in 1995 was that anyone could have a Web page, have access to whatever content they wanted, and be in control of their online experience. Now that has come full-circle, after a detour through the swamp of commercialism and marketeering.

With the acquisition of the "cool" and "innovative" companies by the "old" New Media companies, will these new memes simply get subsumed by commercialism and marketeering?

Interesting notes on hits..


  1. Search engines like the word Microsoft

  2. People like Microsoft and Dinosaur in the same phrase

  3. Putting the names "Dave Winer" or "Robert Scoble" in any post raises its visibility

Sunday, March 20, 2005

IAC Buys ASK; Owns Bloglines

John Battelle points to this.

$2billion. Wow. Sure feels like another bubble.

Was Ask REALLY worth that much?

And yes, this means that Barry Diller effectively owns Bloglines.

More here and here.

SCOBELIZED!

I make a crack about wishing I got as many hits as Scoble.

Scoble grants me a quick burst of pixie dust. [here]

WHAMMO!

Mar 20 Hits

Now, this may not seem like a lot, but I am very stringent with the filtering I do on my blog logs to make sure I am eliminating all the proxies, poseurs, micreants, bots and other vermin.

Removing some of the filters produces stats like these:


DATE COUNT
--------------------
03/01/2005 371
03/02/2005 357
03/03/2005 249
03/04/2005 361
03/05/2005 325
03/06/2005 275
03/07/2005 219
03/08/2005 258
03/09/2005 274
03/10/2005 289
03/11/2005 215
03/12/2005 190
03/13/2005 204
03/14/2005 265
03/15/2005 239
03/16/2005 333
03/17/2005 380
03/18/2005 365
03/19/2005 481
03/20/2005 718


Thanks Scoble! But I was really after the contents of Joi Ito's laptop bag!

Yahoo gets Flickr

Worst kept secret on the net is now out -- Yahoo! has purchased Flickr. [here and here]

Guess I should get either a decent mobile phone or a digital camera...




And I am so &*^*&^*&^ clueless that I didn't even know that Flickr was


  1. Canadian

  2. From Vancouver



Well, if I can't cheer for the Canucks, it's good to have someone else to cheer for.

Another Happy Mac User…NOT ME!

Doug Kaye, the guy who wrote my favourite book on Web hosting, just grabbed himself a new 15" G4 Powerbook. [here]

I am turning green out here...Donations and sponsorships are gratefully accepted!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Dave Winer — Two-Level Communities

Dave Winer hits it on the head: What's the point of doing something or going somewhere if your experience is going to be secondary to those who are considered "special"?

A conference experience should not be substantively better because of who you are. If you arrive late, the overflow room should be just as acceptable as the front row.

I live what would be considered a priveleged life. If you look on the right-side of the page, you will see that I pine for a Powerbook. Instead, I keep gas in my tank, food on my table, and be the best father I can be.

I wish that my laptop bag looked like Joi Ito's. I wish that I clocked as many air miles as Tom Peters. I wish I lived on the beach like Dave Winer. I wish my blog got as many hits as Robert Scoble.

But when my wishes are held back not because of who I am, but because of who someone else is, I get cranky.

Mmmm…let’s call our customers dinosaurs!

The Site! The Site! OMG! The site is even more insulting! Bring on the firing squad!

HERE!




I agree with this post: The team that created the Microsoft Dinosaur campaign need "to be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes". [here]

The campaign is insulting. The campaign does not inform. The campaign makes me feel that I work for a backward company (even if it is in the Fortune 100).

And the campaign is greedy. Microsoft is no longer making any money from those Office 97 and 2000 licenses, so it has to figure out how to keep the gravy train flowing. Problem is...can you make any of these already heavily bloated apps better?

Yes, I know that there are great new features, blah, blah, blah. Don't care. Don't Need them.

And OpenOffice is only 80MB to download for free. And it generates PDFs on the fly without an add-on piece of software.

Hmmmm...the emperor has no clothes.




Blogging synchronicity strikes again. Read this little gem about 30 seconds after I completed the original post. Pretty much nails the state of Microsoft's cash cows.




And this from someone on a MSFT blog.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Tamiani Trail Synchonicity

I cashed in the last of my Triple B bonds
Bought a double-wide on the Tamiani Trail
I parked it right outside the reservation
Fifteen minutes from the Collier County Jail
And the SEC is far behind
Down in the swamp with the gators and flamingos
A long way from Liechtenstein
I'm a junk bond king playing Seminole Bingo
Well, the SEC is far behind
Down in the swamp with the gators and flamingos
A long way from Liechtenstein
I'm a junk bond king playing Seminole Bingo

Seminole Bingo -- Warren Zevon


I was listening to this song while reading this.

You don't off have a synchronistic experience involving the Tamiani Trail. And after reading the post, and listening to the song, I can almost feel the swamp surrounding me as I wade through the primeval much searching for my lost dabber, absorbing the desperate failure in the eyes of the bingo zombies and other refugees and outcasts from the Great Society.

More Thoughts on the HTTP(S) Application Concept

Yesterday, Scoble noted (and I validated) the idea that the browser is less and less relevant for those of us on the bleeding-edge.

In the blogs that I read, people access information:

  • Via mobile phone

  • Via PDA

  • Via data aggregators

  • Via IM

  • Via e-mail

  • Via personal interaction



Web sites are now targets of information, not providers of information. I increasingly hear of new ways for HTTP(S) to be a conduit of information, not limited to the browser.

Port80 is used by so much more than it was designed for. Extensible browsers attempt to lock customers into the old way of approaching this information. The decade-old paradigm is disintegrating.

My main Web access is through FeedDemon. I use my browser to write, check e-mail and check my server stats. This is very different from 2 years ago, where in lived in the browser.

Two years from now...where will I be spending my online time?

My name…in Flickr Photos!

My Name in Flickr Photos




I chose this one because the "H" comes from a British Columbia License plate. Heh.

Very Cool. Play with it here!

Found by Peter Davidson.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

More Google Desktop Search Features! RUN!

Ohhh...this one is classic! [here]

"You can search the hard drives of other computers on your network with Google's new desktop search. I followed the instructions on the site and I was able to search through my roommate's computer. Quite a scary bug in one of Google's fastest growing programs."


YIKES!

Bank Offline Again

I use a major Northeastern US bank. Today is the second day in a row that they have effectively been unreachable through their Web interface.

From the customer service rep I talked to last night, I got the feeling they lost their backend and have had to re-build it from transaction and rollback logs.

And today, their system is swamped.

Not a good scene.

My clock of Unrequited Powerbook Lust

On the left-side of the page, I have installed a count-up timer from December 1, 2004, approximately the time I began lusting after a Powerbook.

I want one. I will work hard for it. I have a few skills.

Short of a paper route, working in retail, or being a server in a restaurant, I am open to finding a way to fulfill my urequite Powerbook lust.

Are Browsers less important?

As the Web moves toward the delivery of services, I have been ruminating on the continuing importance of browsers.

Scoble writes:

Oh, well, back to my RSS news aggregator. That's where I spend 90% of my Internet time now anyway. Are you still using a Web browser? Good. I've been telling audiences that those of you still using Web browsers are wasting your time. I think that Opera might be more concerned by that.


I agree. I use Firefox to handle large applications, such as my employers interface, and my blog editor, but beyond that, it has become less and less important in my everyday online life.

This is the trend. HTTP and HTTPS will be the vehicles to deliver this data. Web servers will become more and more important, but as transformation and application servers for back-end data, not as presentation and image servers.

This is a long-term trend. But it also explains things like the decline of Slashdot. Although they have had an RSS feed for a long time, their bleeding-edge readers found that Slashdot was no longer bleeding-edge. Information is flowing faster and in a more personalized manner through aggregator, desktop and online.

I agree with Scoble (something that happens infrequently): the browser war may be irrelevant. The Web Application era has begun.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

And now they’re both gone…

I am sitting here listening to Warren Zevon.

And then I remembered this gem. Hunter and Warren. Watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The world is a lesser place without all three things.

Rhodia / Moleskine are my paper.

Got my "large" Moleskine notebook today...it just feels good. And is a nice complement to the Rhodia graph pad.

Mmmmm....the kool-aid tastes good.

The Web Standards Team Challenges MSIE7 to Take the ACID2 Test

I like the way Hakon Wium Lie thinks. He and the Web Standards Team have come up with a browser 'acid test' called ACID2.

I seriously hope the the MSIE7 team takes up the challenge. No designer should have to design for a browser; they should design to the standards.

From C|Net. [here]

Jeremy Wright Lives My Nightmare

Jeremy Wright of Ensight, and other fine blogging sites, had a nightmare run-in with the Department of Homeland Security at a border crossing.

I have never had an encounter like the one he had, but as a Canadian living in the US for the past six years (with valid TN-1 and H1-B visaa) I still get the third, fourth and fifth degree from DHS every time I cross back into the US.

I have always expected this to happen to me. It should happen to no one.

More people who comment on this. [here and here and here and here and here and here]

Port80 Software Releases New httpZip Version

The folks at Port80 Software have released Version 3.0 of httpZip, their compression and caching application for IIS servers.

Looks like thay have put a lot of time and effort into this new release, with great features such as a compression cache to prevent unecessary re-compression of frequently requested files, and better server resource controls.

Congrats!




DISCLAIMER:

I am not paid or compensated in any way to promote the products of Port80 Software.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

GrabPERF Retired

I have decided to just retire GrabPERF. I have locked the access, and will give passwords out to anyone who requests one.

Traffic is pretty light to the site anyway. Pretty sure no one will notice.

More on GrabPERF

I have reduced the number of measurements taken by the GrabPERF system down to 24 URLs every 15 minutes.

Also, I have purged the archives and data tables of all of the inactive measurements.

I feel a little sad, yet relieved that I am starting to trim this system back. I feel that unless I get some large outpouring of support, or interest, I will disable the system entirely on April 15, 2005.




The GrabPERF Measurement script is available here if you would like to take a crack at enhancing it.

GrabPERF Measurement Changed — and The (Possible) Retirement of GrabPERF

For those of you who use GrabPERF, please note that I have reduced the measurement cycle to once every 15 minutes.

Currently, I am not using this system for much, and I am looking for a graceful way to retire it, or pass along the code, as I can no longer reliably host or maintain the system because:


  1. I am running low on disk space that I could be using for a home file server

  2. The machines can no longer effectively and efficiently maintain and process the volume of data that I have stored from my measurements

  3. I have lost interest in further development



I am actively entertaining interested parties who would like to take this on and evolve it.

Comcast Brings you this Regularly Scheduled Outage


  1. I should not be running servers on my Comcast connection. BAD DOG! BAD DAMNATION HOUND!

  2. Comcast should not make it so easy to spot, and then not be able to explain, a daily outage pattern



3 Days of Comcast Outages


The nice lady in customer phone support said there were no problems in my area, but that she could not contact my modem. Hmmm....

Can you spot the pattern? Anyone have any recommendations for reliable hosting providers in MA? Or better yet, inexpensive and reliable home broadband options?

Monday, March 14, 2005

A great quote: Are you selling to the right people?

From BrandShift:

“The brands that are ballsy enough or are brave enough to say, ‘You know what – we’re selling way too much product to the wrong people; we need to change the language of our brand, change the face of the brand, and get brave in product design again,’ the companies that are capable of doing that can thrive a lot longer as a brand versus those that get safe and complacent and start chasing numbers and quarters.”


Sometimes I wonder which category my employer falls into...

Slight Re-Design to WebPerformance

Made a subtle change to WebPerformance, placing the GrabPERF measurement system in a separate tree, and emphasizing the Performance Library more.

Comments, flames and general abuse accepted as appropriate.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Shot down by OSCON 2005

A while back, I posted that I had submitted a presentation concept for OSCON 2005. [here]

Got a very nice rejection letter Friday.

Then Dave Winer posts a link to this fantastic quote.

But it's clearly not the only criterion considered by O'Reilly & Associates for its event lineup. There's a distinct rock-star syndrome going on with O'Reilly conferences that is a bit disappointing to me. So many of the scheduled speakers are former speakers, re-hashing, remixing old speeches that keep them busy on the lecture and blog circuit for months or years at a time.

I wish this weren't the case with the ETech conference. I wish there were a lot more unknowns speaking at the conference, about technology that's not yet on my radar. That is what I would find valuable. I suspect that the vast majority of attendees to ETech are people already, if not intimately, familiar with most of the topics and technologies being discussed the conference. There will be a lot of familiar faces there, which is nice. I wish none of them were speaking though. I wish all of the speakers had never spoken before at ETech or any other O'Reilly conference. In fact if I had my way, I'd say the deal with speaking at ETech is that you can't have spoken there before, at least on the same subject, but even then, probably not. I wish ETech were more like DEMO -- not similar in the way it does its frantic six-minute pitch sessions from seventy-odd unknown startup companies. But in the fact that most of the speakers are unknowns, presenting new things, different things, (often remixed things).


I went to OSCON in 2000 in Monterey. And I realize that no one besides the rock stars can break into this group.

It's too bad that an open-source conference is so focused on the stars, and not the implementers, hackers, and module builders who took the core ideas and made them jump.

Moleskine…I have drunk your kool-aid

Kevin Briody over at SeattleDuck talks about how he decided to purchase a Moleskine notebook. [here]

I too have drunk the kool-aid, and mine are coming from my favourite online paper retailer, Vickery. This is where I got my Rhodia graph pads.

Looks like I will carry a Moleskine and a Rhodia with me wherever I go.

Now, does anyone have a recommendation on an inexpensive, yet techno-cool, tough and functional, pen?

Opus has a Powerbook

I read my comics this morning, and there was Opus, my finely feathered friend...

...bloging with a Powerbook.

I am green with envy.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Trying the Glide Pad and slipping geek cred

As many of my readers know, I have been pining for a Powerbook. However, one if the "fear factors" has been the need to switch to glide pad.

I am a "pencil eraser" pointer man. All of my laptops have had them -- even the Dell Inspiron I am using now. But I can see that I am in the minority and that I will have to become a convert.

So, I have disabled the keyboard pointer and switched to the glide pad.

On a secondary note, the "What's in your bag" meme appears to be catching. So many iPods and Powerbooks...I feel my geek cred slipping way down.

Off to walk the Damnation in the latest 10 inches of snow.

What’s in your Man/Woman Tech-Purse?

Joi Ito's Pack

And so many others.

Man...my man purse (2 year-old Targus backpack) is not that geeky...<pout!>

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Blocking Anonymizer Hits

Someone has been abusing the Anonymizer system and hammering my system. Again, IPTABLES is my friend.

/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -s 168.143.113.125 -j DROP


This IP Address points to vortex.anonymizer.com.


dig -x 168.143.113.125

; <<>> DiG 9.3.0 <<>> -x 168.143.113.125
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 52723
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 2, ADDITIONAL: 2

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;125.113.143.168.in-addr.arpa. IN PTR

;; ANSWER SECTION:
125.113.143.168.in-addr.arpa. 10800 IN PTR vortex.anonymizer.com.

;; AUTHORITY SECTION:
113.143.168.in-addr.arpa. 10800 IN NS ns1.infonex.net.
113.143.168.in-addr.arpa. 10800 IN NS ns2.infonex.net.

;; ADDITIONAL SECTION:
ns1.infonex.net. 172693 IN A 168.143.113.201
ns2.infonex.net. 172693 IN A 168.143.113.202


If someone at Anonymizer can bring these requests under control, I will turn the access back on.

My favourite "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" Quote

The Encyclopaedia Galactica defines a robot as a mechanical apparatus designed to do the work of a man. The marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun To Be With."

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes," with a footnote to the effect that the editors would welcome applications from anyone interested in taking over the post of robotics correspondent.

Curiously enough, an edition of the Encyclopaedia Galactica that had the good fortune to fall through a time warp from a thousand years in the future defined the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came."

© Douglas Adams (c/o PlanetClaire)

Describes many marketing teams I have worked with.

More Firewalls with Problem Content Filters

Seems that some firewalls with Content Filters are brain-dead. I found another firewall that provides the same anti-compression "service" for its customers. [here]

Thanks to Alexy Titov for the link.

Symantec Firewall — Problems with Accept-Encoding Headers

Here is a little tidbit that we discovered while trying to debug an issue at work. One of my colleagues found that the Symantec/Norton Personal Firewall/Internet Security mangles the "Accept-Encoding" header sent out by any application -- browser, streaming media, etc.

More can be found here.

This is a serious problem, and has a negative effect on Web performance in general, as one of the key methods for improving bandwidth consumption and user performance is Server-Side Compression of as much content as possible.

What the client wants to send:  Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate\r\n
What is sent: ---------------: ---- -------\r\n


What is the problem? Is this because Symantec can't parse compressed content on the fly?

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Bots from hell, and a plea for a free-to-use public “DROP” Port

There is some idiot out there running a bot/attack protocol using a referring URL that always ends with '.eu.tt'.

Turns out that there was more than one IP involved. IPTABLES took care of them.

/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -s 200.123.9.119 -j DROP
/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -s 195.54.87.222 -j DROP
/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -s 194.47.95.115 -j DROP
/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -s 198.234.202.130 -j DROP
/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -s 198.234.202.131 -j DROP


Please use DROP. This stalls the buggers, as they get stuck in an endless trap of trying to open a TCP connection with your server.

Does anyone know of a server that has an open DROP rule for Port 80? This would be a useful online tool for folks who can re-direct annoying traffic through server configs, but who can't control the firewall or IPTABLES.

Simple set-up. Get a domain, register it. Get a DNS record to say that www.foobar.com is the macines IP Address. Then use IPTABLES to DROP all Port 80 inbound traffic. Publish the URL. Watch the fun!

What's the fun? Well, when you publish the address and explain that anyone can use targetted re-directions to send unwanted traffic to this place of lost TCP connections, and annoying bots get stuck.

It's a simple IPTABLES rule. For my machine, it would be:

/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -i eth0 -s 0/0 --dport 80 -j DROP


Which, in IPTABLES speak, means "Any [-s 0/0] inbound traffic on network interface eth0 [-i eth0], headed for TCP port 80 [--dport 80], should be quietly dropped [-j DROP]".

Please do not try this on a production server! All of your HTTP traffic will disappear! However, you could re-write it slightly, and still preserve port 80 for standard HTTP, like, statistics on the distinct IPs stuck in your flypaper.

Change 'http://www.foobar.com/' to 'http://www.foobar.com:9080/' and adjust the IPTABLES rule accordingly.

/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -i eth0 -s 0/0 --dport 9080 -j DROP


Ok, my rant is done. Have fun, and use these tools wisely.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Kahvi: Source for free groovy Techno

When I need techno, I head on over to the Kahvi Collective. They have a really great collection (ever-growing too) of home-brew techno to help you concentrate.

I find this music best for sessions where I really have to concentrate. A backbeat to optimal thought, if you would.

Cold, Wind, and SNOW

Made it home before the weather got hideous. And it is hideous out there.

Looks like I might work from home tomorrow.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

The Twisted Anarchy of ARIN Data

I made the attempt. No one can fault me for that. However, I was defeated by the twisted, anarchic madness that is the ARIN database.

A step back: I was considering refining the GrabIP database to more accurately reflect the true countries where IPs are used.

APNIC, LACNIC and AFRINIC are all sanely managed. Countries and IP blocks are accurately mapped. RIPE gets a little messier, but there is no real problem with it. Just have to watch out for the blocks tagged as EU instead of their host countries.

ARIN is complete madness. As the only IP registrar on the block for a long time, there are a number of archaic nooks and crannies to watch for. Like this gem: 65.165.84.11.


OrgName: Sprint
OrgID: SPRN
Address: 12502 Sunrise Valley Drive
City: Reston
StateProv: VA
PostalCode: 20196
Country: US

NetRange: 65.160.0.0 - 65.174.255.255
CIDR: 65.160.0.0/13, 65.168.0.0/14, 65.172.0.0/15, 65.174.0.0/16


Nothing too earth-shattering here...but wait, there's more information!


OrgName: COMMUNICATION ENTERPRISES LTD
OrgID: CEL-30
Address: KM # BLVD DEL NORTE
City: SAN PEDRO SULA
StateProv: SAN PEDRO SULA
PostalCode: 00000
Country: HN

NetRange: 65.165.80.0 - 65.165.87.255
CIDR: 65.165.80.0/21


A whole chunk in the middle is assigned to a company in Honduras? Oh great, so now I have to write exceptions to weed out the child CIDR blocks that are in completely different countries.

Needless to say, this attempt to refine the data lost its appeal quickly.

Just using the high-level data in the GrabIP database, it is clear that there is still a great deal of overlap in the ARIN data.


code country NUMBLOCK
US UNITED STATES 30935
CA CANADA 4903
PR PUERTO RICO 29
GB UNITED KINGDOM 24
DE GERMANY 22
JM JAMAICA 18
BM BERMUDA 17
FR FRANCE 13
JP JAPAN 12
BB BARBADOS 9
CH SWITZERLAND 6
HK HONG KONG 5
NL NETHERLANDS 5
SE SWEDEN 4
IT ITALY 4
NO NORWAY 4
BS BAHAMAS 4
BE BELGIUM 4
VI VIRGIN ISLANDS, U.S. 3
ES SPAIN 3
AG ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA 3
AU AUSTRALIA 3
CZ CZECH REPUBLIC 2
SG SINGAPORE 2
DO DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 2
FI FINLAND 2
LU LUXEMBOURG 2
IE IRELAND 2
MX MEXICO 1
AT AUSTRIA 1
LC SAINT LUCIA 1
TR TURKEY 1
PL POLAND 1
LB LEBANON 1
GD GRENADA 1
HU HUNGARY 1
IL ISRAEL 1


However, when I originally started this project 2 years ago, some of the blocks for Iceland were listed as ARIN. Now, all of Iceland's blocks are in the RIPE database.

Hopefully in the next year, the registries can get the counrty assignment mess sorted out.

A sidenote: Right now, ARIN is still the biggest fish in the sea.


arin 36051
ripencc 14588
apnic 10445
lacnic 1457
afrinic 437


Maybe I should post the Weekly Breakdown of IP Blocks by registry and country.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Another psyche damaging day

We went through the detritus of my life downstairs today.

Well, as dramatic as that may sound, this involved going through nearly a dozen boxes of books and magazines that are down there. The vast majority of the contents can be directly associated to me, and not Samantha.

Books from University 15 years ago. Papers I had written. Books bought, then never read. Technical books, once relevant, now dated.

400 pounds of books to be sold at 10 cents a pop (6 for $1) when we have a garage sale. If you need novels, books on Canadian and Medieval History, novels, Jungian Psychology, novels, and metaphysical reading material, we will keep you posted on the date.

It's just hard to go through this stuff without connecting each of the items to a time and a place. Most were impulse buys, but connected to some point in my life where they were relevant and even important to me.

Now, like so much in my life, they have to fade into the background. I have moved on. I had forgotten the person who bought these books until today, and it is like having the dust kicked up in a house: disturbing to the senses.

I will be happy to see them go.

Tapping the Maples

We tapped the three Sugar Maples we have in our front yard this afternoon, and have already extracted about 2 gallons of sap from the trees. Now, it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, so don't expect to be getting truckloads of the stuff anytime soon.

On the biggest tree, I hit the carotid artery; we have extracted nearly 2 gallons from that one tap. It should be even faster once the temperature starts to rise more.

Friday, March 4, 2005

‘Experiential Talenteering’

Want to know more? Look here.

It is interesting to read this author's posts on a regular basis. This blog should be a mandatory read for all hiring managers and HR personnel. He has nailed the problem with companies: it's not the quality of the candidates, it's the quality of the hiring process.

The Office

I just watched the first episode of The Office. It was funny...and extremely painful to watch. Having been to the UK, there are offices that work that way.

It was so...realistic that you had to cringe and recoil at the complete atrocity of this show.

Brilliant. Spot on Brilliant.

A bad day…

Today has not been a good day in our house.

Samantha flamed someone from the Canadian Revenue Agency who called us looking for money that they already have in their possession...to the tune of $45K (CDN). They have had our money tied up for a year. And there is little chance that we will see it any time soon.

Now, Samantha is the first to admit that some of the blame is with her. However, the freakin' CRA can't communicate internally. Seems that we paid the money to the Canadian Taxes Division and the Non-Residents Division is the one that keeps saying we owe money.

And who do non-residents have recourse to? No one.

An MP? Which one? We last resided in David Anderson's riding, but haven't been resident for 6 years.

A Minister of the Crown? David Anderson is Minister of Environment. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Finance??

And I doubt that the CRA has an ombudsman. A representative of the people at a tax agency? Right....

YEEEEEAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGH!

So, I have been doing an inventory of my computer equipment and other hoohas to see what I can sell. We need the money. That's why there are Google AdSense ads all over my sites now. That's why I am evaluating every way we can to reduce expenses, or raise revenue.

I am so bummed. This is a shitty day all-around, and both Samantha and I have been wandering through the house with black clouds over our heads. We both have tension headaches...and I am sitting here with three fingers of Scotch -- those who know me realize that I have about 4 drinks a year, so this is a big deal.

Any input, feedback or ideas would be appreciated. This isn't meant to be a sob story, just a personal note about what's happening here at the The Embassy.

Thursday, March 3, 2005

In the interests of fairness…

A response to the FEC chairman's C|Net interview, which I commented on yesterday.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contact: Mark Glaze
202-271-0982

Statement of the Campaign Legal Center

Setting the Record Straight: There is No FEC Threat to the Internet

Washington, D.C. -- In a recent interview with CNET, Federal Election Commissioner Brad Smith claimed that as a result of new campaign laws and and a recent court decision, online news organizations and bloggers may soon wake up to find their activities regulated by government bureaucrats. That would indeed be troubling, if it were true. Fortunately, Mr. Smith – an avowed opponent of most campaign finance regulation – is simply wrong.

The issue the FEC – and the courts – are grappling with is how to deal with online political ads by candidates and parties, and with paid advertising that is coordinated with those groups. As the Internet becomes a vital new force in politics, we are simply going through a natural transition as we work out how, and when, to apply longstanding campaign finance principles – designed to fight corruption – to political expenditures on the Web. Mr. Smith has advocated an extreme position that politicians, parties and outside groups can pay for Internet advertising with “soft money” - unlimited, unregulated checks from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals. A federal court rightly rejected that position, saying that the new ban on soft money in our elections obviously applies to Internet advertising, too.

These laws are decidedly NOT aimed at online press, commentary or blogs, and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 was carefully drafted to exclude them. The FEC has now been asked to initiate a rulemaking to work out how to deal with different kinds of Internet political expenditures, and there will be plenty of opportunity for public commentary. The CommissionÂ’s duty then will be to distinguish candidate and party expenditures, and coordinated independent expenditures, on the Internet (which should be subject to campaign finance law like any other expenditures) from activity by bloggers, Internet news services and citizens acting on their own that should remain unregulated, free and robust.

Mr. SmithÂ’s comments are obviously designed to instigate a cyberspace furor to pressure Congress to reverse the court decision requiring that paid political ads on the Internet should be treated like any other paid advertisements. Mr. Smith has a right to try to win converts to his anti-regulatory philosophy, but he has an obligation to present the issues fairly and forthrightly, and his comments to CNET fail both tests.

For more information on why the sky is not falling, see a chapter on the history of the FEC regulation and deregulation of the Internet by Trevor Potter, former FEC Chairman and president of the Campaign Legal Center, in the Brookings InstitutionÂ’s New Campaign Finance Sourcebook at http://www.brookings.edu/dybdocroot/gs/cf/sourcebk01/InternetChap9.pdf

For the relevant court decision, please check out the Campaign Legal CenterÂ’s website at http://www.campaignlegalcenter.org/attachment.html/Opinion.pdf?id=1257

For information on the future FEC rulemaking, see the agencyÂ’s website at www.fec.gov.

# # #

1736 19th St NW
Washington DC 20009

T 202.232.6222
C 202.271.0982
F 202.232.3040


I post this verbatim. For more info, contact Mark Glaze

Federal Election Commission wants to remove Free Speech

This is frightening. [here]

Apparently Blogging counts as a campaign contribution?




Interesting...someone from the FEC actually took the time to read this post. I am honoured!

PSST…Hey buddy? Want to buy a league?

Looks like some private capital wants to buy the NHL...all of it...all of the franchises... [here]

Will probably bring about some much needed rationalization in the league.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Blogging is your Mental Workout

Good news: Blogging is good for the brain! [here]

Original blog posting here.

Of course, the way I have been feeling lately...I think I have hit the wall.

Another great MSIE 7 commentary

Standblog tells Microsoft the same thing that I did: stick to the standards. [here]

Ummm…MSN using PHP and MySQL?

Interesting screenshot from Brazil....



Ummmm...it's your dog food...

Courtesy of C|Net.




My sources tell me that this is a result of a third-party provider feeding content into this page. However, it is the optics (a phrase popular in BC politics) of the situation that makes this looks not so good for MSN.

Geek News on Auto-Link

Hmmm...Geek News has a very "open kimono" response to Google on the AutoLink function, raising all of the issues we have had on the back of our minds. [here]

The one about compensation for clicks that drive traffic to Google sites is a good one; like AdSense in reverse.

Maybe it's time for a few key sites to block the GoogleBot. I wonder what would happen if large sites that are already well-known just stopped allowing Google to index them....

Just a thought...

On Talent on the Scarcity of Real Talent

Hank Stringer from On Talent has a great post about the growing scarcity of talent, and the importance of rejected job offers. [here]

I have stated before that this seems like a no-brainer for a company. If you are going after true talent, and they are rejecting you, do you have a rejection debrief that you put these candidates through? What are they telling you is the main reason they went with Company Y instead of your firm?

Salary? Benefits? Work Environment? Technology?

The industry I work in is mature and, I would say, mainstream. I miss the days when I worked with a company that was so far out in front that the customers had to be dragged along; now the customers are the ones doing the dragging.

I can see some waves out there, but having ridden (been ridden by?) one bubble, I am not leaping into another. There are a lot of cool Internet and tech things out there, but I need the passion.

Hank, I think that the key to those offer rejects may be passion. Will these new hires be a cog; or are they being brought on to lead a company into uncharted territory.

I hate maps.

New stupid attacking domains

Gotta love these: genaholincorporated.com

Thankfully the b2evo spam filters crush their comment and trackback spam.

However, had to add them to the filter script I run every minute to clean out extraneous hits. Luckily the bots have a unique browser string!

May your bots melt in the 10th Level of Hell.

Diminishing Slashdot Effect

I have been thinking about this as well lately, and it was interesting to see it actually posted online this morning: Is Slashdot the driver of Buzz that it once was? [here]

I would be tempted to say that the impact of the Technorati, and uber-linking and trackback phenomena are more important to Buzz now then Slashdot. Slashdot was the go-to place for hip and cool news about the world of geeks. Now, blogs and the associated tools do the same job.

Will Slashdot fade away? Not likely. The more important question is whether it will evolve. What could Slashdot do to make it more relevant to the blog-focused techophiles?

New CEO

My company brought the new CEO online yesterday. This is an interesting time...be interesting to hear her outline and execute on her vision.

Time to re-fill the tub o' popcorn and hunker down.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Head stuck in the sand…

I am glad to see the 4th Estate re-invigorated and challenged to go get the story again. Since the end of the Nixon debacle, the media has been slowly sliding into the lazy habits of the well-fed and pampered. Now that the barbarians are pounding at the gates (an analogy I will not use again), the media is being forced to find stories.

Their will be an increase in partisanship and subjectivity. However, if you look at the long history of the media, this is not new. It's just that there is a generation who has seen the rise of a relatively independent media, followed by it's slide into debauchery and depravity.

I gained my knowledge of the behaviour of the media from the writings of Hunter S Thompson. Some will say that this is a bad source, but I learned about the pyramid, and other journalistic terms while wading through his vitriol and disdain for the mediocre.

For me, the newspaper is simply a bulletin board. It tells me about happenings, but rarely takes the time to do much else. The question is: what is the newspaper's market? What is the niche that they are serving?

I can get all of the stories in the newspaper on-line. In fact, not just from one newspaper. And with blogs and feeds, I can get more detail than I have ever imagined, or am able to process.

So, I ask the newspaper "writers" and "editors", why should I pick up your paper? Beyond the portability of your product, an advantage that is diminishing by the second, is there a sound economic reason for newpapers to continue to exist.

I am sure that there are deeper thinkers than I, who have considered this, and have deep philosophical thoughts on this. But, how do you convince me and my ilk, the iPod-wearing, laptop-toting, instantly-gratifiable leading edge to buy your product?

What makes a newspaper sexy? What about a newspaper makes me want to pick one up on a daily basis?

Answering that "I am not your target market" is no longer viable. Joe Lunchbucket wants his scores now to track his pools. Reviews are plentiful, and targeted; the local critic no longer can control a market. Recipes and home ideas? Please!

Is there a reason, beyond the persistence of memory, for newspapers to exist as physical entities in the digital age?

Norway

I want to visit Norway before I die.

Infuriation…

I have had one of those days that make action-oriented people mad with insanity. I had my trip to the Bay Area "postponed", because I am only able to meet with one client.

I hear managers out there going good! Until they hear that:


  1. It is one of the company's largest clients

  2. The Account Manager for the area just left the company

  3. They are key to our strategic focus for one of our major products



So, to save a couple of hundred dollars, they scrubbed my meeting. And this is supposed to make me feel good about going out and getting a feel for what customers want, without having it go through the Marketing or Management filters.

I am feeling...abandoned is a good way to describe the way I feel today.

Time to figure out another pay to pay the bills.

CA Trip cancelled

Got word that my CA trip has been cancelled at the executive level. Sounds like time to dust off my resume.

Snow…again

Glad to hear that Jim from across the street was using his snowblower on his drive this morning...he said it was thanks for the stuff we have done to help and his family this winter. And it saved Samantha a ton of time going out this morning.

I am working from home today, getting ready for my trip to the Bay area tomorrow. It will be a severe shock to go from snow to 65F and Rain...NOT!