Saturday, March 8, 2008

Blog #26 Of Candidates and Windmills and SDK's

Well friends, the Democratic presidential battle lines are clearly drawn. Ohio and Texas have spoken. Ohio spoke with a voice loud and clear, but Texas hath spoken with forked tongue, the primary popular vote naming two-thirds of the delegates to the Democratic convention was substantially for Hillary Clinton but the caucus vote which picks the other third of the delegates favored Barack Obama. And since Obama is running ahead in the delegate count he invites us to do the math, which he thinks hands him the nomination. But if you actually do the math you find you’ve only muddied the water, for it tells you that neither candidate can possibly reach the necessary total to insure victory by convention time. And so my friends we have a plain, old fashioned horse race. Although thanks to our ongoing trade embargo Cuban cigars will be in short supply, smoke filled rooms will surely abound during the Denver convention. For the first time in recent memory the Democratic candidate is likely to be chosen amid coughs and sputters. And at that altitude the delegates should find themselves on a true rocky-mountain high.

My son Joel, the doctor in residence, worries that such a long conflict will show both Democratic candidates in a bad light and might divert people to John McCain’s candidacy. McCain is looking tired and somewhat out of things, but he has flung off his competition and is marching towards the Republican convention in step with his own drummer. Before the Dems go any further, Joel’s solution is for each contender to guarantee that if they are the winner, they will ask the other one to join the ticket as vice president. Of course, that’s the ideal solution for all loyal Democrats, for no matter which candidate you favor, you respect the other one and would quickly support each occupying a place on the other’s ticket. Only problem, I doubt that either candidate would agree to name the other at this stage. But it is a helluva idea, and it would convey the message that without a doubt, each candidate respects the other and will go out of his or her way to share responsibility in the upcoming election.

Republicans giggle and sneer at the Democratic situation, figuring (hoping, hallucinating?) that our Democratic candidates will tear each other apart in the many months before the convention while their man cruises (make that stumbles) his way into the presidency with no problems. But if they say that then they are either dreaming or they’re smoking something they should immediately be required to share. It would seem they have no idea of the intensity of the anti-Republican feelings running rampart through Democratic and even Independent quarters these days. A desperation triggered by a Republican president constantly attempting to justify an unjustifiable and out-of-control war that is bleeding the American people of it’s youth and piling up a debt that is turning the ownership of much of our country over to foreign interests like China, as we bankrupt our economy in the irresponsible pursuit of an impossible victory in Iraq. George W. Bush is a modern day Don Quixote, with sidekick Dick Cheney at his side he is tilting swords at a bunch of Iraqi windmills which live only in his mind. And as he contemplates his legacy he is desperate to justify his unconscionable actions. And for those of you rocking along with him here’s Republican candidate John McCain offering you four more years of McBush, eight if we’d be foolish enough to reelect him.
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“And now,” as our old friends from Monty Python used to say, “for something completely different.” This different concerns the world of professional basketball. Our very own streaking Houston Rockets played their old nemesis the Dallas Mavericks on the second night of a back to back in Dallas Thursday night in a game broadcast nationally on TNT, and they won the game handily, 113-98. And this was in spite of NBA pundit Charles Barkley’s pregame declaration that the Rockets streak would end in Dallas, that the Rockets had absolutely no chance of winning. No way, boldly spoke Barkley.

So much for punditry, Barkley like most so-called experts completely underestimated the skills and resolve of these Rockets, who have not lost a game in 2008 and who have been forced to play their last five games without their high scorer, Yao Ming, who is out for the rest of this season with a stress fracture in his left foot. This streak betters by two the largest previous win streak of a Rockets team, the 1993-4 team which began the season with a 15 game win streak, and then went on to win the first of back to back championships.

Not that this Rocket team will be able to do that, at least not in the mind of its former coach and current ESPN analyst, Jeff Van Gundy. He told the Houston Chronicle recently that they might well win home court advantage in the playoffs, and perhaps even make it out of the first round. “But,” he said, “without Yao Ming they most certainly won’t win a championship.” He’s probably right, but nothing is certain in the wide wild world of professional basketball. After all, just last year in the west the lowest ranking Golden State Warriors beat out the Dallas Mavericks, the top ranked team in the entire NBA, in the first round of the playoffs. So anything is possible. As they’re always saying, that’s why they play the games.
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While we’re talking Dallas, I’m sure you’ll be anxious to learn that 2004’s Swiftboaters for Lies About Democrats are gearing up to once again practice their odd mixture of slander and malarkey. These well funded charlatans aim to put their fantasies out there in the public domain in the fond hope that, as in 2004, enough voters will believe them to swing the election their way. And because of Hillary Clinton’s history of helping children, this time they seem to be using kids in their attacks. When we were taken in 2004 we could honestly say a pox on them who would mislead us. If in 2008 we are once again taken in, all we’ll be able to say is a pox on ourselves for twice falling for it.

As a Texan I can report Dallas to be a hotbead of fanatic conservatism. Where else would you expect to have a leader as charismatic as was JFK meet an assassin’s bullet? The assassins of JFK were not Dallasites, but the people of Dallas had created an environment which allowed it to happen there. I can’t imagine anyone willingly wanting to check out the latest in sicko SwiftBoat fantasies, but just in case you do wish to here’s a URL you can check out:

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to it’s knees
Oh, but it’s alright, it’s alright
For we lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the
Road we’re traveling on
I wonder what’s gone wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong
– Paul Simon, American Tune
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The word is out: the upcoming edition of the Microsoft web browser, Internet Explorer 8, is finally going to play nice and adhere to current web standards. Whether this is to impress the European Union which has rather taken exception to Redman’s having previously ignored it’s 2004 antitrust ruling by fining it an additional $1.3 billion, or perhaps spring has come early in Redman and Microsoft finds itself embroiled in balmy spring days, but the big MS announced the other day that version 8 of their web browser, Internet Explorer, would finally (and for the first time) conform to current web standards.

IE’s previous attempts to go by its own standards was a vain attempt by Microsoft to extend their desktop monopoly to the web, hoping as they were to force surfers to either use IE or experience failure when trying to open MS approved sites. But as Redmond has focused on other technologies it has allowed IE to get further and further behind Firefox, and it’s browser lead has shrunk to only 80%. And that coupled with the European Union’s coming down heavily on them lately, evidently made a balmy Ballmer realize that alas, the web was even bigger than the mighty Microsoft, and if they want to stay in the browser race at all they had better quit their games and get on board.

However taking a lead from Apple computers which outfit their computers with a raft of useful free programs, Microsoft has announced that a brand new technology called WorldWide Telescope which it demonstrated at the recent TED conference, will be free when it goes beyond beta, but it will only work on Windows (Sorry OSX and Linux Freetards.) And so if astronomy is among your interests and you would covet a new computer program which to all accounts breathtakingly employs all sorts of telescopic data from the Hubble and other sources, then a computer running Windows will have to be your choice. Of course, these days Intel Macs run Windows by way of Boot Camp, so that widens your choice by a mile. Hubble fans might be interested in this, available to all.
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Peter Elkind, an editor at large of Fortune Magazine, has written an interesting assessment of Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs which is found here:
I would like to publish a few excerpts from it to inspire you to read it:

“No less an authority than Jack Welch has called Jobs "the most successful CEO today." Jobs, at age 53, has even become a global cultural guru, shaping what entertainment we watch, how we listen to music, and what sort of objects we use to work and play. He has changed the game for entire industries.

“History, of course, is littered with tales of combustible geniuses. What's astounding is how well Jobs has performed atop a large public company - by its nature a collaborative enterprise. Pondering this issue, Stanford management science professor Robert Sutton discussed Jobs in his bestselling 2007 book, "The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't." "As soon as people heard I was writing a book on assholes, they would come up to me and start telling a Steve Jobs story," says Sutton.

"The degree to which people in Silicon Valley are afraid of Jobs is unbelievable. He made people feel terrible; he made people cry. But he was almost always right, and even when he was wrong, it was so creative it was still amazing," says Palo Alto venture capitalist Jean-Louis Gasse, a former Apple executive who once worked with Jobs: "Democracies don't make great products. You need a competent tyrant."

The article focuses on Jobs’ bout with pancreatic cancer and how Jobs’ initial attempt to try and treat it with diet, all in complete secrecy, seems to want to cast doubt on Jobs with investors. However, the point is that Jobs finally did agree to an operation, and that the average person with this type of cancer lives for at least ten years afterwards, which more or less renders Elkind’s brooding contemplation moot.

As for Jobs’ peculiar brand of tyranny, this quality is done in service to the consumer. Take one tiny annoyance to the average computer user: fans in their computers. They are noisy, and given the amount of heat electric components give off these days, there is probably more than one in most modern computers. Jobs hated these, and when the original iMac was in the design stage he insisted that a heat convection system be worked out so that the machine could run silently without the need for noisy fans. And it was so designed, and the original iMacs ran so quietly you could hear the subdued clicks as the hard drive strove to access its data. And my bet is that one reason Jobs forsook the IBM power pc chip replacing it with Intel chips it was primarily because they ran a lot cooler, which was especially important in regards to laptops. The fact that Macs could now be dual-booted into Windows, and thereby execute virtually any computer program written, was simply a bonus, but one which I’m sure has increased Apple’s sales measurably.

And according to tech writer Tom Krazit’s blog at c/net Apple’s shareholds peppered Jobs and co. with a lot of questions at the company’s annual meeting, covering ground from the iPhone to its plans for succession in the case off Steve Jobs’ retirement or illness.

“It's been an open question for years: what will Apple do if Jobs decides to retire or falls ill? It's hard to imagine another company – at least in the tech industry – whose image is tied so closely to that of its CEO.

“Jobs avoided directly answering a question about Apple's succession plan. However, "we talk about it a lot," he said, and noted that it's the board of directors job to "make sure everybody is a potential successor to me," referring to Apple's senior management. COO Tim Cook generally operates as the No. 2 at Apple, running the company's logistics, answering questions during earnings calls, and speaking on its behalf at investor conferences. But he lacks Jobs' stage presence, and it's difficult to envision him keynoting Macworld with anything like Jobs' penchant for the spotlight.”

“A question somewhat tangentially related to the MacHeads movie asked Jobs whether the company's runaway success of the past several years has broken the bonds between the company and the longtime Mac community, and whether Apple "still cares" about these people. Some of these folks see Apple as the local rock band that made it big, losing some of its innocence and humility along the way.

“Jobs acknowledged, "We have a lot more customers now." There has been some angst among longtime Apple users that the company is getting away from its Mac roots with projects like the iPod and the iPhone, which manifested itself during some early problems with Leopard, the latest version of Mac OS X.

“But "we do care ... We drop the ball sometimes, when some of those customers have a problem, but the vast majority do well with their Apple experience," he said, citing high customer satisfaction ratings.

“Only one question was posed about the recent swoon, from an investor who wanted to know why Jobs didn't release a letter to shareholders like the one he did to employees, urging them to keep their heads up in the face of a sharp decline in Apple's stock. Jobs said he believed his management team's job was to focus on managing the company's employees, not its shareholders.

“And truth be told, the drop in Apple's stock price seems to have more to do with the health of the overall economy than anything Apple is doing, other than some recent concern over iPhone sales. Jobs may be one of the most powerful executives in technology, but there's not much he could have done about the effects of subprime mortgage crisis that are causing much of the current concern.”

And the other news from Apple concerned the iPhone and iTouch. Hoping that Microsoft’s improved search results might lure Steve Ballmer to our Google blog, it gives us great pleasure to offer a little sugar for Ballmer's tea by reporting on what Jason wrote in the weblog Signals vs. Noise about Apple’s introducing SDK for iPhone/iTouch developers:

“What we saw today was the spark. The explosion will continue for twenty years. We will all feel the warmth. What we saw today was the beginning of two-decades of mobile domination by Apple. What Microsoft and Windows was to the desktop, Apple and iTouch will be to mobile.

“And while mobile platforms have been around for a while, they never really gained passionate traction. Palm sorta had it for a while. Windows Mobile has been getting better. RIM is the current choice for business email on the go. But just like there were a lot of players in the portable music space, there were no clear leaders. Until Apple came to town.

“The same thing is happening today in the mobile space. Palm, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Symbian. They’ve been players, but no one has broken out big. No one has managed to grab both the business and consumer markets like Windows did on the desktop. Until Apple came to town. At least that’s my prediction.

“Apple has the superior product, the big momentum, the cool, the lust, the business hooks, the consumer hooks, the customer experience, the interface, the design (interface and industrial), the smooth development environment, the vision. And, maybe the secret key to it all, they have the commercial platform that makes it possible for a developer to actually sell, distribute, and update their software with the flip of a switch. And don’t forget the customer experience revolution — buying and it-just-works – installation of iPhone software will be as one-click easy as buying music from the iTunes store. It’s all wrapped into one beautiful package. A package that only Apple can deliver.

This is brand new big shit. It all started today.
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And for you music loving downloaders out there whose consciences have been carrying a certain amount of guilt recently, here is good news from Nine Inch Nails. According to Matt Rosoff, who writes a blog called Digital Noise for C/NET Blogs, “the release of Ghosts I-IV in five different formats is the perfect example of how recorded music can, and should, and will inevitably be sold in a world where free has become the norm.

He goes on to write: “I suggested several business models for recorded music in my post the other day, which was a response to Chris Anderson's Wired article about "free" as the future of business. Ghosts employs at least two of them.

First and foremost, it's a great example of the "freemium" model, in which the hardcore NIN fans subsidize the cheaper offerings – the highest-priced $300 edition is personally signed by Trent Reznor and includes the regular CDs, a data DVD with the entire album in .wav files, a Blu-ray DVD with a high-definition (24-bit, 96kHz) version and slideshow, four vinyl LPs, and more.

Implicitly, NIN is also using the cross-subsidy model. All the offerings include non-DRM-protected data files, and some even include lossless files, which offer the same quality as a CD. Trent Reznor isn't dumb – he knows that somebody will post these files online within seconds of receiving them. In fact, the band has even posted the first nine tracks (the free MP3 versions) to several BitTorrent trackers. But he hopes that casual listeners or one-time fans who haven't checked out NIN's recent work will be sufficiently attracted by these free files to check the band out when it comes through town, and may eventually become big enough fans to pay for future releases.

“It looks foolproof to me. NIN minimizes the risk of unsold physical inventory by taking advance orders, and with downloads, there's almost no incremental cost of distribution. The only potential problem would be if the band doesn't sell enough to cover the cost of recording the album, which seems unlikely. Any label lucky enough to have an artist with a devoted following and decent live show should be paying attention – although they might find that selling a two-CD set for $10 makes it hard to pay for the upkeep on those private jets.”
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And for all of you who suffer from memory quirks, there is a new computer program about to come to our aid. What you’re about to read comes from Chris Morrison who writes for Venture Beat.

“Information overload” is the call-word for the modern lifestyle. Even with the help of calendars, alarms, notes and other memory aids, it’s easy to lose track of what you need to do in the swirl of what’s going on. The latest tool I’ve found to help out is called ReQall.

“The brain-child of Sunil Vemuri, an MIT Ph.D. who focused his dissertation on memory, ReQall keeps track of notes you send to it by email, instant message or, best of all, a dial-in number from your phone that allows you to just state the task. The notes can be retrieved by the same methods or be set to automatically ping you when a task needs to be done.

“ReQall could be useful for any number of things, from reminders to pick up something at the grocery store to keeping tabs on what you need to do at work. Helpfully, it can also send reminders to others — for instance, if someone on your team also has an account, you can leave a note or reminder for them.

“All is not perfect. Pictures are an essential memory aid, but so far, ReQall only integrates with Picasa albums; it needs its own picture storage to shine. The interface, also, could take a while to become familiar with, as it requires specific wordings to get ReQall to distinguish between different kinds of notes. As bad as our memories seem to be, they’re actually good enough that building a truly effective alternative is a challenging task.

“The most difficult point for a memory program may be tying all our aids — calendars, notes, pictures and so forth — into one effective utility. ReQall already plugs into iCal and offers an RSS feed; in the future, Vemuri plans on opening an API so other developers can plug into the data.
“ReQall has some serious competition, too. One of the best is Evernote, a note- and record-keeping tool that I reviewed last year. Evernote has so far been a Windows-only download, but is opening a web-based version in late March. Vemuri claims that his greatest competition is actually the post-it note, but if someone could merge the best features of both ReQall and Evernote, we might just have the perfect memory aid.

“ReQall took a seed investment of $2.5 million back in 2006, from IT Ventures and Edge Ventures. It is based in India, with offices in China and the USA.
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My how time flies. In the interests of remembering to sign off, we hereby leave you for another week. We hope to see you again next week, any time, at your convenience. Bye bye.

The Real Little Eddy

1 comment:

Melony McGant aka Miss Mellie Rainbow said...

Thanks for your profound thoughts!!!!
A message from an African American camper at Blueberry Cove while you, Pete Seeger and Henry Haskell were there. I am grateful to your wives, and all of you!!!Melony


Many of us laugh,
as we cry tears of joy.
Many of us laugh as we cry tears of despair.

This duality is puzzling to me.
Do you understand duality?
As I attempt to understand,
sometimes I feel as if my heart is broken
only to be mended together by thoughts of LOVE.
Universal LOVE.

How can we look into the eyes of our children
and not want to create Universal LOVE???

Often I imagine a new world, a better world.
Do you ever imagine a world
without fear and envy or manipulation….
a world of equity and peace?

Throughout the centuries,
many have forged a way of LOVE.
I re-member and am encouraged.

Perhaps we could join together in a Circle of LOVE.

Let us build our Rainbow Bridge
across the Earth and create ONE HEART.

Right now, in this moment,
imagine that our bridge embraces all people, all cultures.

The Sun rises feeling glorious
and travels around Earth sharing warmth and light.

The Moon smiles as she rocks us to sleep at night.

We, all of us are committed
to educating our children, honoring our seniors,
curing all disease, nurturing all people,
celebrating all cultures,
and finding new ways to heal our hearts and our planet.

We are embraced by A Singular Divine Thought.
Hands are extended.
Hearts are open.
Forgiveness is asked for and given.
Knowledge is shared.
Healing transpires.
LOVE is reborn. JOY is recreated.
There is nothing but LOVE.

Perhaps you too share this dream.
I imagine that you are smiling right now.

And I become more hopeful.