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Archive for July, 2005



Saturday, July 30th, 2005

I can’t believe I missed this:

NEW YORK – An infinite number of newly discovered monkeys trying to name themselves could have pounded on their keyboards a long time before coming up with this one:

The Internet casino paid $650,000 for the right to name the foot-high primate, online auction house announced Wednesday. won a March 3 online auction that raised money to help manage Madidi National Park in Bolivia, where the species of titi monkey was discovered by a Wildlife Conservation Society scientist last year.

That’s right. There’s even a Wikipedia entry for the monkey.

Read more here.


Tete De Veau

Thursday, July 28th, 2005

I’ve long wanted to try tete de veau, which is french for “veal head”. Except I seriously doubt that I could find a restaurant that serves it without traveling either north to Montreal or south to NYC. So maybe my best bet would be to just buy a head and try cooking it myself. I found this website in French that goes into all sorts of detail about how to go about stripping the head of its meat so you can cook it. The picture below is from that site.


Hasta La Vista

Thursday, July 28th, 2005

Dvorak writes a pretty good column on the new operating system from Microsoft, Windows Vista:

As readers know, Microsoft has announced the name of its new operating system, which was followed by a collective yawn from the computing community. Vista? As in “Hasta la Vista, baby?” That name might be appropriate as a symbolic goodbye since it might be the end of the line for Microsoft’s dominance in the OS business.

I’m not saying that Microsoft is doomed as a company, but its reign as the OS dominator may end fast if things go the way I see them headed. The new OS is getting zero buzz. Zero. There has been nothing like this since Windows Me. And now the name Vista,along with the new Microsoft Vista logo, has made it worse. Could anything be less exciting?

A friend told me he’d read on Slashdot somewhere that they should have named it Copeland.

Dvorak goes on to predict good fortunes for Apple.

Read more here.


Free Condoms

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

They should just distribute condoms instead:

VIENNA, Va., July 25 /PRNewswire/ — Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® today announced it will fund ongoing research on endotheliotropic herpes viruses (EEHV) being conducted by the National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park. The $180,000 gift will be distributed over the next three years to support the National Zoo’s efforts toward treating, and ultimately curing, this typically fatal disease in young Asian elephants. The gift reflects Ringling Bros.’ commitment to the survival and well-being of the endangered Asian elephant.

Elephant herpes.

Read more here.


Take A Bite Out Of Peta

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

Visit the Center For Consumer Freedom.


Against The War

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

This is pretty incredible:

On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette broke the story about Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll’s uninvited attendance at the July 19 funeral of Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, who was killed in Iraq on July 10. According to the paper, Knoll passed out business cards during communion, and told a grieving relative, “I want you to know our government is against this war.”

Reading the story carefully, what stands out to me is this: the Light Governor really thought she was saying something comforting.

Unreal. Read the whole thing here.



Monday, July 25th, 2005

Check this week’s Carnival of the Capitalists.


Now I Didn’t Expect This…

Monday, July 25th, 2005
You Are a Glam Rocker!

You put the “show” in rock show with your larger than life self.
No doubt, you are all about making good music…
But what really gets you going is having an over the top show.
Glitter, costumes, and wild hair are your thing – with some rock thrown in!

(via jay and deb)


Enlarge The Halo And Kick The Box

Monday, July 25th, 2005

I wrote the following letter to Bob Cringely regarding his latest column:


I liked your column today. I have some further thoughts on the matter.

Looking at Microsoft’s annual report, it would appear that about 1/2 of their bottom line is contributed by Office, and the other half is contributed by Windows, with everything else taking a loss or making only marginal contributions to the bottom line. If I remember correctly, about five years ago, Office was contributing about 2/3 of MS’s bottom line. And then there’s this:

Office 2003 appears to be falling behind in targeted sales for this point in the product’s lifecycle, according to Microsoft’s own internal figures and guidelines. Just 15% of PCs are running Office 2003, two years into its life, with Office 12 – the next edition of Microsoft’s ubiquitous suite – now on the horizon. However, Microsoft traditionally expects between 50% and two thirds of customers to be running the previous version of Office when the new copy ships.

So the product that contributes fully 1/2 of MS’s bottom line is falling behind in sales figures. This makes perfect sense to me. I’ve been in finance for about twelve years, and the feeling I’m getting around finance offices is similar to when I first started working right out of college. I was an auditor with a big six firm, and when I would go around to clients, I would ask them, out of personal curiosity mostly, what spreadsheet program they were using and if they planned to switch. At the time, there was this big deal about who would win the office wars, Microsoft with its Office product or Lotus with its Smartsuite product. But I knew from the answers that I was getting at the time that the battle was over before it had begun. That’s because everyone (who wasn’t already using Excel) said they planned to upgrade real soon. Upgrade. As soon I I knew that the users of the product had perceived Excel as an upgrade, even over Windows versions of Lotus, I knew that MS’s dominance of this market was inevitable.

Today, users are irritated and angry. Particularly ones who have been using Excel and other office products for a decade (as I have). Particularly troublesome are the overabundance of Baysean popups designed to help, but just get in the way. But it’s more than that. It’s the subtle but pointless UI changes that they make which only serve to slow down the power user. And of course, there’s the macro viruses and the like.

There’s the fact that Windows ships with a dysfunctional browser, which doesn’t help matters any. But it’s the OS itself too. Last summer I did some consulting at a company that had one of those blocking programs on their network, designed to stop illicit web surfing. I asked the IT guys why they had it installed and they said it wasn’t because they had people in the office looking at porn or anything. Rather, it was the guys in the warehouse, who would visit gambling and pornographic sites and would wind up inadvertently installing all sorts of worms and viruses onto the network. This was just the cheapest solution.

So I agree with you that we are on the verge of some sort of shift here. But an x-box terminal that runs windows isn’t it, not in the short term. I think what may be more likely is this:

Rumors that Apple Computer has been quietly developing its own spreadsheet solution gained a dab of credibility this week as sources pointed to a revealing company filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Just two days after requesting a trademark on the word ‘Mactel,’ which seemingly describes the convergence of Macintosh design with Intel hardware, Apple on June 8th filed for a standard character mark on the word ‘Numbers.’

Apple is clearly coming out with their own office suite. But the question is why? I had originally made nothing of this, thinking that it was just a gap in their product lineup that they were looking to fill, that they couldn’t afford to be reliant on MS for an office suite as they had been in the past. Now I think that they may be doing two things: enlarging the halo and kicking the box.

The halo effect is supposed to be the higher Mac sales that result from iPod adoption by Windows users. The effect has been largely thought of as fictitious, but it is in fact, real. You may have noticed this tidbit from the WSJ:

It seems as if there might be something to the “halo effect.” Thanks largely to the popularity of its iPod portable music player, Apple Computer is enjoying a resurgence in sales for its Macintosh computers, according to the latest figures from Gartner. Apple shipments jumped 31.4% in the second quarter from a year ago, nudging the computer maker ahead of Lenovo (formerly IBM) and into fourth place in the U.S. market, according to the research firm. Apple’s U.S. market share is now the highest it’s been in more than four years. Still, market leader Dell sells more than seven times as many computers as Apple in the U.S. In the second quarter, Dell widened its share to 32% in the U.S. and about 18% world-wide. Overall, U.S. shipments rose 10% in the quarter, exceeding analysts’ estimates, but lagging world-wide growth of 14.8%. Gartner analyst Charles Smulders attributes the industry’s gains to higher demand for notebooks and aggressive price-cutting on desktops.

31.4% jump. That’s quite impressive. Apple should do anything they can to enlarge the halo. That includes releasing their office suite, once it’s completed, for Windows. Office users are disgruntled, and not buying the latest upgrade. Moreover, everyone on the planet has been impressed with the usability or Apple’s latest generation of products, particularly iTunes and the iPod. Would those users take a look at an Apple office suite, just for a change, just because they’re pissed with their current vendor? And might that get them to buy Apple computerss when their hardware needs replacing? I think so. I also think that they would do it if the price were right, which brings us to kicking the box.

As I mentioned at the start, MS gets 1/2 of their bottom line from Office. Microsoft has been harvesting profits from a product that they basically have 100% of the market for, and which has been around long enough that it should be something of a commodity. And MS has been way too reliant on this source of income for far too long, with nothing new to replace it. I can almost imagine a guy standing on a rickety old box, reaching for a jar on a shelf, only to have someone walk by and kick the box. That’s what Apple needs to do. If they came out with a version of iWork for Windows (Ok, that’s a sentence, so maybe they’d call it something else), at a low price point of say $99, they may not take the market, but they would force the price of office suites down. That’s kicking the box, destroying the 1/2 of MS’s bottom line, and opening the way for other companies, the MacTel alliance included, to better compete.

What do you think?

And here’s Bob’s response:

I think Apple is definitely moving toward its own office suite and it will be a formidable competitor for MS Office. And Apple definitely intends to steal as many Windows users as it can. But that doesn’t, in itself, belie the xBox Office strategy which is, after all, Microsoft’s strategy. I think Microsoft will try to cover every possible bet and then put bigger dollars behind those that begin to win in the market.

All the best,


So readers, what do you think?


Foreign Piracy

Monday, July 25th, 2005

I’m not sure what’s more interesting here, the fact that this post is being created, or the guy’s name:

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration said Friday it created a new position to coordinate government efforts to combat the foreign theft of copyrighted products.

President George W. Bush selected Christian Israel, currently a deputy chief of staff at the Commerce Department, to fill the new post of coordinator of international intellectual property enforcement.

Read more here.