December 29, 2003
The IT gadget for 2004
Every IT administrator (and some geeks) will want wone of these: National Scientific WiFi tracker. With this nifty little hand held device, you can find WiFi users postion. Great help in the coffee shop to find the cute girl surfing Friendster near you.
The Wheel, a new idea in electric cars
Most of the "inventions" that I have been seeing in the green car area basically keep the main functions of the car intact. Just subsystems are replaced. Like an electric or hybrid engine for a gas engine.
From Denmark comes a completely new approach: e-Traction Products Page. Take the electric motor and put it INSIDE the wheel. No transmition. No gears. No central motor (although the prototype has a diesel generator to power the motors). Very interesting idea. Make a self propelled wheel.
iReady consortium formed for home appliances
The battle intensifies...iReady Technology Specifications.
I don't believe consumer appliance manufacturers will drive the standards. I believe the computer industry will.
more Microsoft FUD on the SPAM front
The reason SPAM works today is that the economics work. Many people have solutions that propose to change the economics. The real thing you want to do is raise the cost of sending an e-mail. But not so much that normal people sending a normal amount of mail will notice or have to pay extra. One way is to charge micropayments for each e-mail sent out. And get a credit for each received. The probelm with clearing all those micro-payments will make that one not fly.
Then there is the idea of making senders pay with something else. Like CPU and memory power. Apparently Microsoft has figured this out BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft aims to make spammers pay (the technique has been around for more than a decade) and is thinking of adding it to Exchange. I don't think even Microsoft has enough MTA's out there to make a change like this. And it has the potential for back-firing in many ways just like challenge response does (causing the recipient to be a spammer).
The thinking is along the right path. Change the equation. Microsoft won't be the one that fixes it though.
Where to buy a HERF gun
A while ago, I posted some plans for making your own HERF gun. Now I have found where to buy one! EMP/HERF SHOCK PULSE GENERATORS Of course you need to be an "authorized resaercher".
December 26, 2003
Kevin Kelly and Cool tools
So I like to usually post the latest cool electronic gadget that is to lust for. Kevin Kelly -- Cool Tools
is his personal list of cool things from many different categories. In fact mostly not electronic consumer stuff. Cool charity organizations, movies, etc. Worth keeping up on.
December 22, 2003
PC World reviews SPAM tools
Australia says SPAM costs $2B
Mavericks Dec. 17, cool big waves
Check here before you travel
Ever wonder what the best seat on your next flight is? Look no further...SeatGuru.com - Your Enlightened Guide to Airplane Seating
December 19, 2003
The First fuel cell powered Zero emission bus on the road
Transport for London - Press Release. London takes delivery of first fuel cell powered bus. Them and 9 other European cities are in a two year project to convert their fleets. The Europeans beat us again. We are in danger of loosing our competitive edge in many industries if we stick to our oil is power policies.
Bill Gurley details a threat to us all
I am a Republican and didn't much like Clinton. But he did something great (and not in line with traditional Democrat policy) for all of us building technology by saying the government should keep out of regulating the internet. That long followed policy is in danger of being reversed by a recent Ninth Circuit court decision. I have not seen any general press about this but I hope the issue gets main-stream. If not, this fragile recovery we are seeing will be short-lived and it will be much harder for us VCs to invest. I don't usually quote articles wholesale here, but Bill Gurley did an excellent job of exposing this issue and graciously gave me permission to reprint them here, so here you go!
ATC: Cleaning Up After the Ninth Circuit in an Attempt to Save the Internet
by J. William Gurley
In 1998, President Clinton noted "Information technology now accounts for over a third of our economic growth, and government should follow one guiding principle: First, do no harm." This phrase, which translates from the Latin phrase, primum non nocere, is a signal to pay just as much attention to the "means" as the "ends." Often in complex political systems, the objective of an action can be honorable, yet the impact of said action can be completely at odds with the objective. This is largely because the tools we use to encourage behavior in such systems are often crude and imprecise.
On October 6, 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in the case of Brand X Internet vs. FCC that has the potential to delay the progress of the Internet in the United States by certainly years and potentially decades. Through its actions, the Ninth Court has "invited" the fifty independent and natural bureaucratic state-based public utility commissions directly into the fold of the Internet.
How the Ninth Circuit accomplished this feat is both curious and confusing. The case in question deals with whether or not cable lines that deliver Internet service can be considered a "telecommunications service." This wording is critical because Congress and the FCC have made it clear that states can regulate "telecommunications services" but must keep their hands off "information services." In 1998, the same year Clinton made his declaration, the city of Portland mandated that AT&T Cable, as a requirement for approval of its acquisition of TCI, open up its broadband lines to competitive carriers. Ruling on this in 2000, the Ninth Circuit stated that the city of Portland could not mandate this behavior as its jurisdiction was over cable franchises, and these broadband connections did not technically represent a cable franchise. But the Ninth Circuit did not stop there; it made one more historical, but seemingly unnecessary step. It declared cable modem service a "telecommunications service."
The FCC was compelled to react to the Ninth Circuit Court's assertion, as it flew in the face of the FCC position on this matter, as well as the clear intent of Congress and the Executive Branch (both of whom had echoed their desire to keep the Internet unregulated). Therefore in 2002, in an effort to clarify and correct the decision in Portland, the FCC ruled that cable modem services are "interstate information services" and not "telecommunication services." Seven different petitions for review of the FCC's "information services" ruling were filed in the Third, Ninth and D.C. Circuits. Under the multi-circuit rules a judicial lottery was held, and the Ninth Circuit was ironically elected to rule on the FCC's ruling.
In its decision of October 6th, the Ninth Circuit noted that the Supreme Court had ruled in Chevron that agencies should be given the benefit of the doubt in interpreting the subtleties of their own provisions, particularly when consistent with the clear intent of Congress. Despite this, and without ever questioning the intent of Congress, the Ninth Circuit relied on two key precedents to escape this Supreme Court decision and rule against the FCC. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), these two key precedents were both previous actions by the Ninth Circuit – one being the Portland case. The argument, quite simply, is that the FCC had no business ruling on something that a prominent authority, none other than the Ninth Circuit itself, had already decided. Meanwhile, in a similar case across the country on October 16, a U.S. District Court in Minnesota unequivocally noted that "State regulation would effectively decimate Congress's mandate that the Internet remain unfettered by regulation."
Not lacking in hubris, Ninth Circuit Judge O'Scannlain in concurring noted, "our adherence to stare decisis (the legal doctrine that courts are restricted by precedent), even in the face of subsequent agency interpretation contrary to our Portland decision, produces a result ‘strikingly inconsistent with Chevron's underlying principles.'" He went on to note "adherence to stare decisis in the present case…appears to aggrandize, rather than limit our power over an admittedly complicated and highly technical area of telecommunications law." Judge O'Scannlain is right in that this certainly "appears" to be a jousting match of epic proportion between the Ninth Circuit and the FCC. The unsuspecting and unfortunate casualty in all of this is the Internet and everything it means to American society.
Who would benefit from increased regulation of cable modem services? The only clear answer is the fifty state public utility commissions. Perhaps fearing irrelevance as a result of the rise of the Internet, these agencies have quickly sided with the Ninth Circuit. It is not at all clear that the Internet "needs" regulation -- in fact, quite the opposite. Therefore, in a day and age where everyone is fearful of rising deficits, our government should revel in the opportunity to downsize rather than increase outdated government programs.
Who would be harmed by increased regulation of the Internet? There are four constituents that are negatively impacted as a result of such action:
1) Consumers will be faced with higher prices for Internet services. Highly regulated industries typically have complex tax structures and consistently increasing prices. Competitive technology industries typically have low or no tax structures, and constantly falling prices. Apply regulation to the world of the Internet, and you lay the foundation for things such as email taxation, instant messenger taxation, VOIP taxation, per minute fees, bandwidth monitoring, and controlled pricing (once again, read "increased" pricing at something like 5% per year). Requiring Internet service companies to interact with fifty different state agencies every time they "tie their shoe" will undoubtedly add costs and complexities to their lives, which will in turn result in higher costs and slower innovation/deployment. California consumers, already accustomed to paying the highest gas prices in the country, will quickly enjoy the highest Internet fees as well.
2) The growth in information technology businesses will slow dramatically. The Ninth Circuit decision, if it stands, will have horrible consequences for Silicon Valley. The growth of the Internet and the numerous resulting businesses and services are the unquestioned drivers of our current economy. Slow the penetration of broadband through the imposition of increased regulation and all of high tech will suffer. The Ninth Circuit decision pours concrete on the number one facilitator of technological growth in the U.S.
3) American competitiveness will suffer. Household broadband penetration in the U.S. is quickly falling behind innovative countries like Korea and Japan. While we are struggling to move beyond 20% broadband penetration, Korea is soaring past 60% on its way to 70%. Moreover, the connections in Korea are built around fiber optics and are resultantly many times faster than traditional U.S. broadband. These increases in Internet performance have resulted in increased usage of the Internet for such things as telecommuting and online education. As the U.S. faces the real loss of white-collar jobs to the hard working, but lower wage connected workers of Asia, one cannot help but wonder what political leader would aim to intentionally slow the roll-out of the Internet inside the U.S. Additionally, the key driver of the U.S. economy over the past twelve months has been productivity based. Why mess with the underlying network that is essential to this important metric?
4) Competitive RBOCs object as well. While one might assume that all of the entrenched Bell monopolies would be in favor of regulation for cable modem services, this would be an erroneous perspective. Verizon, one of the most competitive of all RBOCs, was quick to point out that it believes that cable modem services should be exempt from regulation. Make no mistake, it wants regulatory parity, but it wants it through decreased regulation on DSL not increased regulation on cable services. Likewise, a spokesman for BellSouth recently noted, "The Internet, and for that matter cellular service, has thrived because of limited regulation. Economic regulation is crippling this industry (telecommunication services)."
Some will argue, as does Judge Sidney Thomas of the Ninth Circuit, that opening the cable networks to competitive carriers will directly benefit consumers. The enormous problem with this argument is the prima facie evidence suggesting the opposite. Clearly stated in the Ninth Circuit opinion, 70% of all broadband users use cable modem services as compared with 30% for DSL. Cable companies, free to compete without the shackles of regulation, represent over two-thirds of all broadband users in the U.S. DSL, supposedly advantaged by its open connectivity and therefore supposed increased competitiveness, represents less than one-third. If regulated open-access is such a great thing, why are cable modems such a compelling value proposition for consumers? And why were the RBOCs slow to roll out DSL?
The bottom line is that we tried an experiment in DSL and it failed. Attempting to increase competition by mandating that a company invest in infrastructure and then share that infrastructure with competitors is simply not a market-based solution. Companies, naturally motivated to take market share, not give it away, are simply not effective at appropriately enabling competition. If you want to increase competition, add holistic competitors, not partial ones. This type of solution had a huge positive impact when PCS licenses created a third cellular alternative in most U.S. cities. Solutions such as cable overbuilding can accomplish this as well. Notably, a WISP in Cerritos, California recently announced an eight square mile 802.11 coverage zone based on Cellular-WiFi equipment from Tropos Networks*. This solution will offer ubiquitous broadband of greater than 1MB throughout the entire city. These solutions are the ones that will successfully advantage the customer while avoiding the overt dangers of increased regulation.
We should all know by now that rather than increasing competition, regulation typically reinforces monopolies and oligopolies. Startups will not and cannot prevail in heavily regulated industries. They lack the required resources and capital to manage fifty different utility commissions on a hundred different regulatory issues. For this same reason, you will never see a startup deliver an automobile in the U.S. as the regulatory red tape swamps all efforts. Increased regulation will do nothing more than ensure that new competitors and innovative solutions are permanently locked out of the market.
There are three ways to put an end to this potentially catastrophic problem. The first is for the Ninth Circuit to clean up its own mess in an upcoming large panel review known as an en banc review. The likelihood of success here is slim. The Ninth Circuit is well known for its reputation as the most over-turned appeals court in the nation, and it is doubtful it would pick now to jeopardize its record. Luckily, there are two more solutions that exist beyond the Ninth Circuit. For starters, the Supreme Court could once again correct the Ninth Circuit. But perhaps more appropriately, Congress should step in and legislate to ensure that this type of misunderstanding never happens again. As Clinton and many others have noted, the future of the Internet is simply too essential to our national interests to suffocate it with unnecessary regulation.
Judge O'Scannlain made a peculiarly ironic but accurate warning in the Ninth Circuit opinion. "Regardless of one's view of the wisdom of the FCC's declaratory ruling, it cannot be denied that our holding today effectively stops a vitally important policy debate in its tracks, at least until the Supreme Court reverses us or Congress decides to act." For those in Washington that do NOT want to (1) increase the likelihood of higher Internet access rates and increased costs for incremental services, (2) dampen the growth of Internet services and all the companies that benefit from that revolution, and (3) negatively impact American competitiveness, we hope you heed his urgent call.
*Benchmark Capital has an investment in Tropos Networks.
If you have any comments or feedback, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Above the Crowd archive is now available by visiting http://www.benchmark.com/about/bill.html.
The Above the Crowd newsletter focuses on the evolution and economics of high-technology business and strategy. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but not necessarily complete, and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Any opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. The author is a General Partner of Benchmark Capital and its affiliated companies and/or individuals may have economic interests in the companies discussed herein. J. William Gurley 2003. All rights reserved.
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Finally the court stands up for privacy!
I was wondering when the courts would realize that the RIAA was seeking WAY more powers than even the Homeland Security department has in order to persue US citizens. Finally the courts put a little hitch in their step. Court: RIAA lawsuit strategy illegal | CNET News.com This is not terrorism guys.
SPAM lawsuits fly...
Microsoft, New York launch spam lawsuits | CNET News.com
This will probably make a dent. I don't believe the whole spam economy is large enough to fend off a concerted effort by government and microsoft. But that doesn't mean it won't move overseas or morph yet again...
More ramblings on SPAM
It is funny read comments from people new to the SPAM debate. Especially those who think there is a simple solution. Like a "do not spam" list. These people don't understand the technology or the history of the SPAM fight. There has been grassroots efforts for years. The reverse of a do not spam list is a blacklist of senders. These have been around for years and don't work. Wired did a good job summarizing the reasons the do not spam list will not work.
In case you too are missing some of the research material on the true costs of SPAM, I am re-posting here an excerpt from NW Fusions with pointers to the recent studies:
In a recent report by Nucleus Research, spam was estimated to
cost U.S. companies over $800 per employee per year in lost
Ferris Research estimated that U.S. corporations in 2003 will
spend $10 billion to cope with spam:
Some projections from the trends are alarming (others might say
"alarmist"). If the growth in spam continues, according to
Jupiter Research, "the average e-mail user should expect to
receive nearly 3,900 junk e-mail messages per day in 2007":
Public rage against spam is rising. According to a November 2002
poll by Harris Interactive, an overwhelming majority (80% of a
sample of 2,221 adults) of the U.S. Internet-using public found
spam "very annoying" and 74% of the sample wanted spamming made
Good Wharton article on state of digital music business
couldn't have done the wrap-up any better myself. Knowledge@Wharton
Wal Mart wades into digital music
Wal Mart to test digital music this is the really big news of this week. The Real story is a footnote. I have contended for a long time that you will buy digital music and other content from retailers you already have a relationship with. No new music retailer will come out of this. Look for Amazon to be in the business soon. Digital media will be a loss leader for these people because everyone will be paying the same royaties to the music labels leaving little room for differentiation. The differentiation will be in retailer soft bundles with music playing devices and other things that have more margin. Wal Mart will be restricted somewhat in that they are only offering WMA format songs and that format is not as widely supported as MP3. But Apple iTunes already has that problem as well and seems to have enough players to make a business. Where you want to be in a war like this is as the arms supplier. That is Loudeye.
the full microsoft reaction to REAL claims
The REAL last gasp
When your surrogates don't get what you want done, you have to do it yourself. That must be Rob Glaser's conclusion when he diceded to sue Msft. The Seattle Times has a good summary of the claims and a background timeline. RealNetworks sues Microsoft. It is sad and pretty silly to have the leader in a market try to get anti-trust laws to protect them from competition. I wonder if Rob is ready for the countersuit that alleges he uses a similar monopolistic playbook when he thinks no-one is looking.
The human robots are coming
watch this video to see the future of toy robotics. The motion is unbelievably lifelike.
December 16, 2003
TAXICAB INTERVIEW | Kris Pister, President & CEO, Dust Incorporated - Mesh Networking
This from IBDNetwork. Dust is building on the TinyOS. It is in competition with Zigbee. I have a feeling that Zigbee has the lead. But Intel is behind TinyOS. An interesting race.
TAXICAB INTERVIEW | Kris Pister, President & CEO, Dust Incorporated - Mesh Networking
1. How do you explain what you do and your market space in 25 words or less?
Dust Incorporated is a technology company that provides wireless sensor networks for various applications. We are the horizontal layer of technology that connects sensors to applications.
2. What is mesh networking?
Mesh networking refers to the reliable routing of data and instructions between motes. Mesh networking allows for continuous connections and reconfiguration around blocked paths. Mesh networks are self-healing which means that the network can still operate even when a mote breaks down or a connection goes bad. As a result, end users can have a reliable wireless sensor network.
3. What are the business applications for sensor mesh networks?
There are many applications for wireless sensor networks: sensing, monitoring, and communicating. For example, in a health-care market, an application would be used to monitor the health of the residents in a building by tracking heart rates, blood oxygen levels, and body temperatures. This information would be relayed via electronic alerts when the measurements rise above or fall below a pre-specified range. For manufacturing or industrial companies, you can mount current sensors in energy monitoring systems to track levels of energy being used in grocery stores, commercial buildings, and residential facilities. And in the defense industry, one possible application is to drop motes into a battlefield for sensing enemy movement. The list could go on...
4. When will this market "arrive?" In 6 months, 12 months, or 2 years?
We believe the market is here now. Mesh networks have been gaining momentum over the past couple of years and many opportunities already exist today. The difficulty lies in whether or not end users are ready to adopt wireless technologies as their primary means of communication and data collection due to concerns for reliability.
I told you so...
Today an article in PaidContent.org points out that e-Bay is getting into the content business by selling pricing data. Intuit is using the data feed to allow people to figure out prices for items they gave as tax deductions. Two years ago I spent a couple of weeks trying to design this business. In the end the money you had to pay e-Bay was too much and my thought is that they would compete with you if it turned out to be a good business. Good thing I didn't spend alot of time on that one!
December 15, 2003
Google finds the cool gift guides
If you are still at a loss for cool gifts. Try: Google Search: gift guides You have your fill.
Finally some original geek stuff
I have been searching the Christmas lists from many different sources to find the coolest stuff. Most of the lists you can tell were compiled with the help of many marketing and PR budgets. As I have pointed out before, Sony did an amazing job getting their mini pc device into all the hip lists. This was not a coincidence. Today I stumble across BitChen. They have some truly innovative products that I haven't seen anywhere else. Maybe they design and manufacture the stuff themselves. The shreadder/toaster is totally cool. Shreds the paper, then burns it! Totally cool.
To save you the time, basically unless you have alot of spare time on your hands and are quite the Linux hacker and like debugging drivers, just go with the Tivo. The hardware costs of DIY parts is about what you would pay for a 40 hour TIVO plus a lifetime subscription. And there are plenty of sites that will help you "upgrade" your Tivo. I love my TIVO and guess I am not enough of a geek to yet want to build my own. I am waiting until this feature is standard on my home media PC.
All TV cards reviewed
Look no further than TV-Cards.com - News. The site is pretty consumer oriented. But they have most every card you may want and lots of other tricks and tips. Not a serious DIY site though...
SWOT analysis of HP PC blade announcement
This is a fwd of a fwd. It may be copywritten, but the fwds were taken off, so I can't attribute correctly. A good analysis though.
HP has a huge desktop user base and it's also had experience in the thin client sector. Its existing blade servers, thin client access devices and rapid deployment software are clearly suited to be re-purposed towards desktop consolidation.
The use of lower performance Transmeta chips in order to achive high density and lower power feels like the re-visiting of past mistakes from the early days of blade servers. Users aren't usually satisfied with slower desktop performance.
With a clear story of return on investment and easier re-provisioning and management, HP hopes to get larger users looking at broader Adaptive Enterprise adoptions involving its servers and utility computing services.
Other blade server vendors can do the same kind of re-purposing without too much difficulty if they see the concept catching on.
Replace your enterprise desktop with a blade in the data center?
Heard an interesting idea today. What if you could consolidate desktop PCs in the enterprise into the data center? Leave just the monitor, keyboard, mouse and any USB devices on the desktop. Would you be able to achieve similar benefits that server consolidation efforts have achieved? The idea is that you may be able to actually buy fewer blades than you have PC desktops today because you can model usage patterns and do some smart resource sharing. When you layer on shared storage to a SAN or something the benefits could be greater.
HP announced a product last week in this area. They have a new "thin client" on the desktop which is basically embedded XP on a bare bones box with no local storage or processing, just I/O. Then there is XP on the blade. Microsoft must love this because now they get TWO Windows licenses per desktop! HP basically uses Microsoft Terminal Server 2003. Lots of links on that below.
I am not sure the increasing the OS licensing revenue is the right way to go here. The software revenue is already too large of a percentage of the desktop and growing (as hardware shrinks). And what happens to laptops? The percentage of laptops vs desktops in corporate America is growing. Your next desktop is probably a laptop. In many ways, this is a step backward to centralized computing and dumb terminals. With the Terminal Server solution, I am sure there are latency issues over typical Ethernet. How much of a network upgrade is required? Add that cost in. I am sure some companies will pop up that hope to do a better job of latency and functionality in such a super thin client space, but I don't know if it is a good place as a VC to invest. I personally haven't used a desktop in over 7 years. Laptops rule...
Clearcube Web Site:
H-P to Sell Computer 'Blades'
Hewlett-Packard Co. plans to announce it will sell thin, stackable personal-computer "blades" as part of an effort to reduce corporate computing costs and better compete against Dell Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. Blades are an important part of the computer-server market, but H-P is the first major computer maker to offer PC blades as well. H-P said a computer user would have only a keyboard, monitor and mouse at a desk, along with a small access device to connect with the PC itself, which would be stored remotely. The complete set-up is expected to cost about $1,500, or about the same as a traditional PC. But special software would allow the PCs to be assigned to users as needed, reducing the total number of PCs needed. H-P, Palo Alto, Calif., estimated the three-year cost of managing a blade PC to be about half the cost of managing a traditional PC.
--The Wall Street Journal
Profile of Spam king Bill Waggoner
If you ever wanted to know where they come from... reviewjournal.com -- News: The Spam King
The Microeconomics of SPAM
This article ajc.com | Business | Spam wars play out across Internet actually does a good job of showing the personal side of SPAM. From both the small time spammer and the end user. It is a complex problem. The Can-SPAM act will probably just consolidate the SPAMming activity into the top providers and move it offshore. The SPAM industry should love it.
The labels want you to use their system now
Wow, a peer-to-peer system that respects copywrites: New Scientist Where do I sign up? These efforts are going nowhere.
Size does matter
Want to know who's database is bigger? Winter Corporation Top 10 largest
Canada to slap tarriff on MP3 players
I had predicted two years ago that the music industry would try to tax hard-drives and blank media like they do blank cassettes to make up for some of their lost royalties. Well Canada seems to be abliging with a new Tarrif
December 14, 2003
The Meatrix is real...
This is a funny annimation take-off on The Matrix. THE MEATRIX What makes it extra interesting is that it is in fact true. The evils of factory farming are exposed and you can find places where you can support sustainable family farming.
December 12, 2003
My FIRE 2003 Predictions
In the spring of 2003, I attended Mark Andersen's Future In Review Conference. There from on high, I made my FIRE 2003 Predictions. Am going back in 2004 to see how I am doing. These are 5 year predictions.
Newsweek's digital IQ test
I just took this and it is amazingly good for Newsweek. Digital IQ test. I scored 173, off the charts. But then I am a geek. This just confirms it
December 11, 2003
Want to search the GNome?
IBM reasearch has a prototype you can use. IBM Bioinformatics and Pattern Discovery Group / TEIRESIAS: Sequence Pattern Discovery. Wow, they must have alot of extra hardware lying around.
Wanna read something funny about SPAM?
Check out the DMA statement about the new federal legislation: Congress Passes Anti-Spam Bill; The DMA Supports National 'Can Spam' Law They conveniently dodge the issue that most spam is moving off-shore out of their reach AND any mention of a Do Not SPAM list. They argue for an Opt-Out list. Why not Opt-IN? Because that list would be TOO SMALL! Well they are just doing what they are being paid to do.
IBM taking on Outlook?
IBM has a research group that has been thinking about e-mail for about 10 years. Their newest paper is here: ReMail: A Reinvented Email Prototype. Not really lots of new information or ideas here. Everyone knows Outlook has stopped pushing the borders on innovation. Being able to view threads better, process priorities, spam filtering, automatic virus, etc. are all things a next generation client should do. Now, what will get Msft to do them?
Spamhole sucks up SPAM
What if there were a black hole on the internet that sucked up SPAM? What if spammers spent alot of resources sending to these black holes? Would that change the economics of SPAM in a material way? Maybe. Check out Spamhole.com: Two hour email addresses. No logins required. Spam dies here.
Here is what a guy on Slashdot said
mike9010 writes "A person named I)ruid has come up with an ingenious way to combat those spammers. His program, spamhole, creates a false 'open relay' that the spammer thinks he/she can send messages through. The messages then get sent nowhere, and the spammer has no idea. "spamhole is an open project. Hopefully, through user's and developer's contributions, we will amass a collection of spamhole implementations spanning all commonly used platforms, programming languages, etc. Ease of configuration and use are the primary objectives, for the easier to use by the non-techical layperson the implementations are, the more widely adopted and used spamhole will become.""
Cable wins VOIP
Time Warner announces they are getting into VOIP in a larger way. FT.com Home US I saw something this week that put the number of VOIP subscribers at Comcast around 1.3M. WOW that is alot! As the ISPs get more into it, the independents like Vonage are going to have problems. Do you really want to write two checks each month to two different companies? Look for Vonage to get bought soon. And I bet Cable guys win VOIP. They don't have any POTS lines to cannabilize like the telcos. Telcos loose again...
Another client side security sniffer for Half-Life
These guys have a client that tries to detect cheating. And a server side library for people who run servers. UA - Cheating-Death Downloads I like the approach because it is all aftermarket stuff. You don't have to re-architect the game. Obviously all these companies want to get imbedded into the games. The question is how best to sell this stuff.
You can worry about it from the game developer side, or the server operator side, or the player side. There are WAY more players out there.
If Santa has an extra 110 large
December 10, 2003
Support my foundation through Walmart
Another game security entry
I posted about the issue of cheating at on-line games earlier this year and the CEO of SecurePlay Software for Game Developers (Flash/ Java) with Cheating Protection e-mailed me chime in about his product. Wow, this blog thing actually works!
The SecurePlay approach is much harder to get to market though. It is an SDK that game developers need to buy and integrate into development. The PunkBuster approach is much easier to sell (and buy) because they write agents per game. If you are playing a certain game, get the punkbuster for that game and you have something that monitors for all the common cheats. I have got to believe that a client software that knows more about the specific game you are playing would be better at detecting cheats. Also, as a player, I may want something that I buy on my side that is doing the checking. Just because a game developer tells me his game is safe, do I believe him?
There are alot of ways to cheat. Not all of them detectable by a computer. For example, player collusion against the house. How does the house know that two players have an IM session open and are sharing information? Or are on the phone together? SecurePlay does have a helpful guide to many of the traditional ways to cheat a game in the physical world and their translation to the computer world.
Motorcycling in BC
Last year I took a two week harley trip out through eastern Washington then up to Pentictin Canada and across to Banff, then back down to Glacier and home through the tri cities. The Canadian roads were some of the best. Less traffic. Amazing mountains and valleys. I found this site that does a great job rating the roads for "rideability" on a motorcycle. It has everything you need to tour BC. It even comes in a paper copy to stuff in your bag! Destination Highways - Roads you journey to, to travel on...
A green VC?
Yes Scotty, there is such a thing. Changing World Technologies
December 9, 2003
Andronics remote water monitoring service
Have been thinking about wireless sensor networks. There are lots of verticals that could benefit from wireless sensor networks being applied there. A quick google search found these guys doing it for water treatent plants. Andronics wins award.
It would be nice to look across all the verticals that may beneft from wireless sensor networks and see where the greatest opportunity may be.
Pulse Wave stun gun?
I just bought an AirTazer for jollies. It uses electric shock to incapacite an attacker. I found this little gadget that claims to incapacitate thorugh pulse waves that disrupt the brain waves and voluntary muscles. Pulse Wave Myotron - 30 Day Money Back Guarantee I gotta try one. I understand that pulse waves are omnidirectional though. How do you prevent your own incapacitation?
December 8, 2003
Sweeds in Seattle
December 3, 2003
Santum and SPI Dynamics Web App scanner shoot-out
Starting to look at web application scanners. January 2003 - Wide Open on Port 80 - How good are Web app scanners at rooting out vulnerabilities? We test two of the leading tools head-to-head to find out. This review of the two leading ones is interesting. It leaves something to be desired though. I understand network vulnerability scanning, you have lots of standard devices in lots of places. With web apps each one is a custom app. There are logic errors. There are specific features on them like the fuzzy numbers/letters that are there to specifically thward bots from running the app. You gotta have some human intervention.
Some very big words about search
I invested in Technorati. They are at the VERY early stages of doing something to search weblogs and make sense of all the metatags in there. This guy has thought alot about XML search which is quite similar. ongoing · On Search: XML.
I am hoping that searching blogs is different enough and hard enough that a separate company becomes the expert there.
comparison of current VOIP providers
December 2, 2003
Ember Embedded RF
Startint to look at Zigbee deals. These guys have been at it for awhile. Ember - Embedded Wireless Networking
The question I have is what have they really built? Simply implementing standards is not interesting. The hardware parts are not interesting. The middleware, datamining, security, authentication, and other software pieces may be. As well as the network operator pieces.
Segway has competion coming in Embrio
Bombardier Produits récréatifs / Bombardier Recreational Products has created a comcept vehicle which is basically a one wheeled motorcycle using the gyroscopic principals of the Segway. This one is built for the road though rather than the sidewalk. It goes 35mph! Straight out of Minority Report. Can't wait to get a demo...
Whipple supercharger review...
So I have had my North Face Avalanche for 30,000 miles (over two years). About a year and 15,000 miles longer than most of my vehicles. The problem is that I love it. There is no other truck as versatile. It hauls Harleys, surfboards, a family of five, and construction materials for a remodel. So instead of getting something new, I decided to upgrade it. Basically more power.
Friday I picked it up from my pal Steve Huff who slapped on the Whipple Supercharger for me. The company claims 90 hp bolt on! The supercharger fits in-line to the fuel system. You get a new air flow system, a new air box (more air flow), two new injectors, new plugs, a new pulley, some new hoses, and a new computer in-line with the factory computer. The supercharger basically mixes the air and gas better and shoves the cylinder full of an optimal mixture so you get a bigger bang. Normal fuel injection systems fill up about 60% of the engine cylinder volume with normal air pressure and the downstroke of the piston pulling in the air/fuel mixture. The supercharger crams in the mixture, filling 100% of the volume with the perfect mixture. The computer controls when the thing is on and when it is off. Basically when you stomp your foot on the gas, it kicks in and pulls like a banchie until you reach the motor's rev limiter. When you are just driving around normally, you don't get any boost and the thing only takes 2HP for the pulley. There is no change to the hood or the exhaust or anything visable on the truck. The only thing you may notice is the whine of the supercharger when you stomp on it. A very satisfying feeling actually.
Now I had the Porsche Turbo for a couple years and the accelleration was amazing. Snap your neck fast. I knew that wouldn't happen with a truck that weighs three times as much. Certainly the handling would still be like and SUV. When I first hit the gas I was totally blown away. My Avalanche launched off the line like the Turbo. Nearly as much force snapping my neck back. I haven't put it on a dyno to see how many HP have been added, but plenty. And because it is automatic, it just keeps pulling all the way up. The computer shuts down the engine around 100mph. There is an upgrade I can get to bypass that, but don't think I will do it just yet.
In summary, I LOVE IT! My favorite part is the little sticker they give you for your dashboard:
DO NOT MAINTAIN WIDE OPEN THROTTLE WHEN FUEL LEVEL IS BELOW 1/4 OF A TANK. YOU MAY DAMAGE THE FUEL PUMP.
Gotta love it.
Government site on fuel economy
Type in Porsche Turbo in Google and you get this site: Fuel Economy. Go figure.
More Christmas lust for Geeks (like me)...
Ok, so tis the season for the hipster magazines to print all those "must have" lists for christmas 03. Because I have no will power when it comes to gadgets and cool new stuff, I bought every list I could find. Including Popular Science, Men's Health, Wired, Robb Report, Maxim of course, Outside, Road & Track, and a small local pub Computer Source Magazine. Wired has the best list BY FAR, Road & Track and Outside were the lamest. Here are my best picks from all these lists:
The hands down winner for best marketing placement is the Sony Clie PET-UX50 PDA. Their plucky marketing intern managed to get the device on ALL the list I read. It is a cool little hand-held with multiple built-in wireless protocols, a generous keyboard, color screen, camera, internet browser, mp3 and video player. Lots of features in a tiny, well designed product. The downsides are no phone and reliance on Sony Memory Stick. If it had a GSM phone and supported SD memory, I would be helplessly in love!
In the computer meets home entertainment category, the coolest by far is the MSI Mega. They use the new MiniPC case format and add in instant on for FM, CD and MP3 playing (so you don't have to boot the PC part). You can buy the bare bones kit and add your own CPU, hard drive, video card, DVD player, speakers, etc........ It is a good platform to get into home theater and pc meets stereo very cheaply (and geekilly).
One of the more lustful geek cars that is going to be available in may of 2004 (sadly too late for Santa) is the Lotus Elise. Small, agile, great handling, and a geeky look. Way more edgy than the New Mini which is already passe. If you are more on a budget and live in one of the areas that they are being sold (California - you can't get them up in Washington yet), drop on by Scion and buy the xB. They are cheap and you can customize everything on-line. In fact on-line is just about the only place you can buy one.
The Robb Report was disappointly devoid of really cool things to buy. Mostly things to buy if you have too much money and not enough taste or brains. They did point the way to revive Indian Motorcycles though, which is only going to be done by rich guys trying to buy personality. They do make a good motorcyle though, and America needs another big twin.
Maxim finally started delivering the goods with the Street Cleaner from Supersoaker that can hurl water 35 feet! And this year the AirZooka made it to a couple lists. I am getting a couple for the office to plaster people with air from afar.