Extempprep Blog

19 April

Congress working on Patent Reform

Betanews.com: Sweeping Patent Reform Bill Drafted for House, Senate

In news that could fundamentally change how the tech sector works Congress is looking into limiting damages for settlements for patent issues. This could dramatically reduce the value of companies sitting on patent portfolios waiting for an idea to blossom and then take a princely some in royalties down the road that far exceed market value.
12:36:06 - Shawn - No comments

04 March

Bill Gates sells Microsoft stock

Marketwatch: Gates sells more Microsoft stock, filings show

It appears that Bill Gates is slowly selling off some of his stock. 20 million shares hardly is a fortune for him, but it does seem as though somebody thought this was newsworthy. Gates still owns close to a billion shares so I would hardly think that this is a big sign that Gates believes that his company's fortunes are on a long term decline. That being said there isn't a lot of evidence that people have seen a lot of wow out of Windows Vista. Sales of Vista are anemic compared to when XP launched. I think that Gates realizes that unless the current trend continues Microsoft stock could tumble. Both Windows and Office are virtually the only divisions of the company that make profits. All of the other divisions are largely only successful at marketing the Microsoft name more than anything else. If Apple's MacOS or Linux ever make large inroads we could be talking about Microsoft in the same vein as IBM's PC business.
15:40:08 - Shawn - No comments

16 November

VHS is dead according to Variety

Variety.com: VHS, 30, dies of loneliness

In a belated announcement, Variety has announced that VHS is dead. It seems a bit odd that in an era when most video stores no longer carry any VHS tapes, that they didn't declare the format dead a while ago. The only thing that keeps the sales of the machines going is that some old fashion time shifters that don't want to bother with subscription fees of DVRs or the far more expensive DVD recorders.
21:15:09 - Shawn - No comments

26 September

Google turns 8

The popular search engine Google is touting the 8th year of their operation this year on their homepage indicating that all of the popular criticism of Google seems to have fallen flat with reality: Google doesn't face any threats in the near future. Google's advertising seems to be everywhere. Millions if not Billions of webpages have Google ads on them. Therefore Google's revenue stream is not nearly as vulnerable to attack from downturns in their search engine market share as it was 3 years ago. That being said Google's market share in the search engine market doesn't seem to be falling. Virtually every news story about search engine market share has shown that save for Yahoo all of Google's competitors are now in single digits in market share. I have even seen brand new buildings with the Google logo on them. Combine that with the increasing apathy over Windows Vista and I am a bit suspect that all of the hype that Microsoft will crush Google with Vista's tight integration of MSN are a bit foolhardy. Windows XP while not perfect has proven to be rather dependable for most customers otherwise more customers would have defected to Macs or Linux by now. Sure there were some stories that Apple has near 20% market share in laptops, but that is largely cancelled out by their weaker numbers in the desktop market. Therefore the loses from Windows to the Mac aren't causing Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer nightmares. Only time will tell how much further Google will go to defining our lives.
22:01:57 - Shawn - No comments

14 August

Guardian releases list of "websites that changed the world"

Guardian Unlimited: Websites that changed the world

As the World Wide Web gets old we are seeing more and more lists of the best, greatest, worst, etc. The Guardian has an interesting list of the websites that changed the world, but it does show their biases being a British source. Number #6 (friendsreunited.com) and #15 (easyjet.com) are no doubt popular in the United Kingdom, but are largely unknown in the USA. Ignoring that possible bias, the list does include a number of sites that few could debate. Ebay at number 1 is hard to question. Ebay may have not been the first site to do proxy sales, but they popularized the idea. They did screw up by listing Wikipedia.com as opposed to .org. The site automatically redirects to .org. While Wikipedia revolutionized the concept of the wiki, I do think it was wise to emphasize that Wikipedia is not completely accurate. Neither is Encyclopedia Britannica, but that is another issue.

One that did surprise me was the inclusion of Napster. Napster has very limited influence anymore, furthermore I don't think it is as much much as a website as the software. Nobody went to Napster.com the same way people go to say Myspace or Youtube. Important, yes. Number #3 coming in front of Drudgereport, Blogger, Google, and Yahoo? No, nein, nyet...

Youtube coming in at #4 demonstrates that web video has came of age. Honestly though I find the use of Flash for video a complete abomination. Did anyone remember when Flash animation were vector graphics? I guess not. I think Youtube has brought back the quaint notion of a company that has made virtually no money, but people pour money into anyway. Will we still be talking about it five years from now? Who knows, but the idea certainly has changed things.

Blogger.com's inclusion demonstrates that most people don't have the time to learn to use even an easy html editor. Sad, but these days most average folks just run blogs, rather than conventional websites. Drudgereport I think must bother some on the left, that a former 7/11 clerk is worth millions with a larger audience than any progressive website. Heck, save for CNN Drudgereport is largely unrivaled. Slashdot proves that geeks still spend a lot of time online. Salon.com has proved that there is some demand for new media journalism, despite the constant claims by fuckedcompany.com that they were going to be dead any day now five years ago!

The most underrated site was probably Craigslist. Craigslist, not blogs or RSS feeds or the Web in general is not what is killing newspapers. It is Craigslist. Before Craigslist, people actually purchased classified ads, not anymore. Craigslist I think will be more influencial than most of the sites on this list.
23:50:14 - Shawn - No comments

Dell recalls batteries because of fire threat.

NY Times: Dell Recalls Batteries Because of Fire Threat

As if Dell hasn't already been on a decline in their public reputation this isn't going to help matters much. "Dell is recalling 4.1 million notebook computer batteries because they could erupt in flames." There were plenty of pictures of burning or downright crispy laptops already for a while: here and here. This should certainly increase sales before the important back to school season.
23:11:11 - Shawn - No comments

11 August

Flash turns 10

For the annoyed everywhere the omniprescent Flash animations turned 10 years old recently. It simply shows us how far we have came when it comes to the internet. No longer do we see websites with frames or no frames versions anymore. Now one is lucky if the site designers gives the end user the choice between a flash or non-flash site. Times have really changed.
22:48:40 - Shawn - No comments

31 July

Arnold signs agreement with Britain on global warming

IOL: Blair and Schwarzenegger sign climate deal

In an interesting turn, the UK is not only going to work with California on stem cell research, also global warming. One can obviously tell that this is an election year because Schwarzenegger is working hard to appease moderate Democrats with more progressive stands on issues than the CA GOP tends to hold on issues. Certainly there is some criticism that it sidesteps the federal government, but it wouldn't the real question is whether federal courts will recognize the rights of states to implement more stringent standards than the federal government.
22:23:36 - Shawn - No comments

19 July

Democrats oversimplify issue on Voting Rights Act

CNN.com: Democrats press Bush on Voting Rights Act

It seems as though the news stories on the Voting Rights Act seem to overwhelmingly ignore criticism of the bill. There is one sentence upon criticism of the bill. One can object to a portion of the bill, but in the end many on the political left paint anyone who doesn't view the bill as perfect as a closet racist at best.
19:39:40 - Shawn - No comments

Bush uses Veto power to kill stem cell research

CNN: Bush vetoes embryonic stem cell research

In news that will shock many George W. Bush seems to realize that he has the power to veto bills from Congress. Apparently Bush isn't just a rubber stamp for Congress. It is unfortunate that he hasn't discovered this power earlier in that judicious use of the power could have slowed the growth of the national deficit. Furthermore, Bush's statement that, "If this bill were to become law, American taxpayers would, for the first time in our history, be compelled to fund the deliberate destruction of human embryos," is completely bogus. There have been new procedures that can generate embroyonic stem cells without destroying embroyos formonths now. Bush is showing himself as either ignorant or arrogant. Somehow I doubt that this measure is going to aid the GOP in this years' election.
19:13:22 - Shawn - No comments

29 June

SWIFT leak not exactly a secret

Washington Post: A SWIFT Kick in the Head

In a story that shouldn't cause much surprise to any skeptical person it is quite clear that the SWIFT leak isn't exactly a huge leak at all. SWIFT isn't exactly a secret organization, nor is the fact that they share information with various government agencies investigating international crime. As the press conference with Tony Snow revealed those that claim that this leak endangers the "war on terror" or is going to make it "harder to win" are either ignorant or rather arrogant. As part of the Q&A session proves:

Let me ask a follow up. Are you saying that the financial experts in the terrorist ranks would not know about an organization that works for 7,800 different financial institutions in 200 countries?

MR. SNOW: I'm saying, yes. I think that a lot of people didn't know about the existence of Swift.

Let's be honest, how many terrorists are going to find the leak useful? International criminals have been trying to outsmart Interpol for decades because they know that international banking transfers are watched for criminal activity. In the words of the NY Times: "Terrorist groups would have had to be fairly credulous not to suspect that they would be subject to scrutiny if they moved money around through international wire transfers."

Hopefully this non-story can die.
00:17:28 - Shawn - No comments

28 June

Ward Connerly's Affirmative Action ban may appear on ballot

Newsmax.com: Michigan's Affirmative Action Initiative Boils Over

While Michigan is no stranger to controversy about Affirmative Action in recent years, Ward Connerly's response to his loss in the US Supreme Court three years ago may have an oppurtunity to at least get a symbolic victory by eliminating Affirmative Action by changing state law in Michigan through the intiative process. While it is anyone's guess of how the intiative will ultimately do in November there it seems unlikely that the critics will be able to knock it off of the ballot. Connerly opponents have attempted to use some rather flimsy arguments to derail the intiative. First, they attempted to argue that the intiative would conflict with the Supreme Court, which is such a vacuous form of thinking that you don't have to have a JD in constitutional law to see that such an argument is flimsy in that the court simply stated that racial preferences were allowed in some circumstances, not that they were a court mandated requirement. A more promising, but questionable argument is that the circulators misled signers of the petition by saying that it protected Affirmative Action. While I have seen petition circulators deceive prospective signers, I can't imagine that such a tactic would be too effective in that anyone who reads a few lines of the description would find that it conflicted with what they were being told they were signing. Ultimately, I doubt that such a strategy will work in that one would likely have to demonstrate massive fraud to put the qualification of the intiative into question. Considering that it has been a decade since CA's Proposition 209, I think it is overdue for another major state to consider the issue.
15:30:09 - Shawn - No comments

23 June

Torrentspy names alleged hacker

News.com: Torrentspy names alleged MPAA hacker

In news that is sure to cause shivers down the backs of the MPAA, it appears that Torrentspy has not only found the identity of the hacker that stole information from their servers, but has convinced him for undisclosed reasons to help them against the MPAA. I think I know the reason for his change of heart. Robert Anderson, the alleged hacker, could face serious criminal charges for computer misuse but since he has information that could be useful to Torrentspy they probably agreed to look the other way if he helped them against the MPAA. The MPAA really wouldn't have anything they could do against Anderson, but they could face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime. Only time will tell whether Torrentspy has sufficient evidence to prosecute the MPAA for a crime that if any average citizen committed would probably see a large fine if not jail time. History though shows us that some how I doubt that the MPAA will face justice even if the evidence is clear enough that the first round goes against them.
12:00:31 - Shawn - No comments

10 June

former RIAA chief claims lawsuits against users outlive purpose

Huffingtonpost.com: Hilary Rosen: For the Record, for what it's worth

I news that certainly shocked some, the former chief of the RIAA has stated publicly that the current litigation strategy is no longer useful. It is strange in that many RIAA critics have argued that the suits have only caused people to be further disinterested in RIAA music and that users simply want music at a more reasonable cost. Rosen states that: "lawsuits have outlived most of their usefulness and that the record companies need to work harder to implemnt a strategy that legitimizes more p2p sites and expands the download and subscription pool by working harder with the tech community to get devices and music services to work better together." It is too bad that no one thought of that a long time ago or we would have had digital music distribution at a reasonable cost years before iTunes forced the music industry to push digital tracks to be no >99c. While monopolies tend to suppress innovation and the iTunes forced integration with the iPod has limited users from picking the music store and the player that they want to work together, I think in the respect that the large market share by Apple has made Apple a force to reckon. When Apple's iTunes is already in the top 10 amongst all music distributors one can figure that Apple is only going to gain more leverage over prices. The odd reality is that most tech firms, save for Sony aren't really interested in incompatible devices. I care to venture that we would already have one music DRM standard if the music industry wanted there to be one.
09:59:31 - Shawn - No comments

07 June

180solutions and Hotbar merge

News.com: Adware makers 180solutions, Hotbar merge

I was reading news.com and stumbled upon the most humorous quotation: "The merger creates increased available inventory and an even larger audience of potential customers whom advertisers can target utilizing Zango's time-shifted ad-delivery model."

Yep, their ad-delivery model shifts time so that all of your work is done in the future.
15:40:14 - Shawn - No comments