Dec 12

12/12/12 12:12:12

It is fun to think about numerology particularly when it occurs “organically” like today’s date. Today’s date will get a lot of attention – unabashed disregard and frantic fascination alike – simply because it is a commonality to so many. In other words, it’s going to get talked about ad nauseum.

I just think it’s cool, always had a soft spot for special-looking numeric sequences. And it’s the last of the sort (like 11/11/11 11:11:11 last year) for my lifetime. That is, unless I live to be 120. (Here’s hoping?)

So do something really special today to mark and celebrate our date’s uniqueness. Chances are it’s your last opportunity, too.

Jan 12

Stop SOPA protests will have a day of productivity side-effect

With numerous time-sink sites going down (e.g. reddit, slickdeals, xda, fark, xkcd, wordpress, boingboing) after internet peoples contact their congress person(s) will have little choice but to get to work. And or post on their own blogs. Ahem. Venturebeat has handily captured screenshots of many of the stop-sopa participants homepages.

Also, who doesn’t love theoatmeal:

…As someone who creates content for the web, earns a living from it, and has had his content pirated, I do feel that we need better legislation against online piracy.
I do not, however, think that SOPA or PIPA are the legislation we need.

Want to help in the fight against SOPA / PIPA? First, go learn about the bills. After that go contact your elected officials. Wikipedia has a handy-dandy page set up which allows you to locate your state representative.

Hugs and jet skis,
-The Oatmeal

Continue reading →

Aug 11

Apple’s European ad slogan: Buy iPad because it’s all you can get

“Apple asserted in German court that Samsung’s tablet had imitated the iPad so closely that it infringed on Apple’s intellectual property rights. The court agreed with Apple … block[ing] the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the European Union…” [via Apple blocks sale of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Europe]

This is the kind of bullshit “Intellectual Property Rights” that discourages the hell out of me and innovators in general. No longer does the best product, a melting pot of all the best ideas executed, rise to the top on its own merit. This instance with Samsung has hit mainstream media because it’s one big player against another.

As far as Apple is concerned, I have long since strongly disagreed with their uber proprietary worldview. This news further fuels the fire that this company is, at the core: greedy, secretive, anti-entrepreneurial tech mongers. Epitomizing “If you’re not with us, you are against us.”

For more on the extremely sorry-state of IP & patent rights, I encourage you to hear This American Life’s “WHEN PATENTS ATTACK!” podcast containing some eye-opening investigative journalism that has certainly colored my optimism a shade darker. Or, for the hard and fast version from the same reporters, Planet Money’s “The Patent War“.

The source of the madness ultimately lies with faulty copyright legislation. It’s unlikely to be resolved anytime due to the state of big business which has evolved to coddle and encourage patent-rights beginning most strongly with Microsoft’s infamous rise to (one of) the world’s largest software makers.

You can bet your ass we won’t see any ambitious young startups who may employ early-Microsoft like tactics obtain success. They will be dealt a swift strike from the cease & desist ban hammer. Not to say it is utterly impossible to make it as a startup; hundreds of young companies continue to weather the storm. I’m just saying it’s is a stifling environment these days.

As for the big players, they’ve their “hands” full with the highest cards – armed with an arsenal of patents. But, I digress: there is a bit of positive news in the Apple slaps Samsung injunction. Samsung has its own arsenal of funds and patents. Maybe, together, they’ll tear down the acrid system unintentionally whilst fighting the tablet market-share war.

Unsurprising UpdateApple is also suing Motorola in Europe over the Xoom tablet’s design

Feb 11

The Billboards are Alive, Judging and Profiling You

These billboards, in malls and other large public places, will chat at you with dynamically selected advertisements most relevant to “you”. How? Based on a new “smart” camera tech NEC has developed to make an advertiser’s wet dream come true.

The billboard can make instant assumptions about the buying tendencies of passer-byers based on physical characteristics such as body build, gender and age. It could easily and might make racial profiling assumptions as well though the ramifications of such would be heralded by civil rights activists.

It could get interesting: by monitoring and tracking which stores you enter and what you come out with, depending on what you do or don’t buy, ad hoc discounts or bonuses could instantly be offered. An omni-present intelligence inventing ways on the fly to encourage patrons to dump more money.

It’s happening, just like in the Minority Report

While rather different technology than acute audience targeting on the internet, it has a similar gut privacy wrenching reaction.

Dec 10

Sad or fantastic? Congress targets TV ads

To keep advertisers at large from dominating the airwaves within the US homes of TV watchers, it has come to this:

“…the CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) Act will give the FCC a mandate to regulate and enforce volume limits on commercials, ensuring that their maximum loudness does not exceed the average maximum loudness of the program they’re accompanying.”

This one has got to have been easy to pass. Whatever it takes to attempt to kick the lame-duck congress wrap.

Not to say I’m totally displeased, some of these advertisers are outright audibly obscene. Then again, most of us who own a TV made in the last (two?) decade(s) know a secret that makes this Act of Congress utterly moot.

Can you guess what it is? I just gave you a hint! If not, you probably don’t use it and I probably don’t watch TV at your house. Hey, maybe this little act will change that. Lucky you!?

Sep 10

How to vote on California’s “global-warming law”

No on Proposition 23

“The ballot measure would suspend the global warming law until the state’s unemployment rate dropped below 5.5%, a level achieved only three times in the last three decades. Until now, the measure has been largely financed by two Texas-based companies, Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp…”

“The fight over a November ballot initiative to suspend California’s global warming law has escalated sharply with the Koch brothers, oil billionaires and “tea party” backers… the [million-dollar] contribution to the campaign for Proposition 23 came Thursday from … the Kochs’ company … has estimated annual revenues of $100 billion … controls about 4,000 miles of oil pipelines.”

Undoubtedly, in effort to prevent progress to energy-independence and profit margins from slipping. Heaven forbid they innovate.

Yes on AB 32

“California’s global warming law, known as AB 32, is designed to cut the state’s emission of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the end of this decade. A significant chunk of the reductions would come through regulations aimed at fostering alternative fuels and generating electricity from solar, wind and other alternative energy sources.”

[source la times]

Jun 10

Petaluma’s Big Box related lawsuits sedated

Congratulations Petaluma, your next soulless big-box shopping center strip mall is once again on track to dominating one of the most valuable pieces of land the city has to offer. While that may sound particularly negative and uninspired, it should. There is no way in hell the potential for the geographical center of Petaluma is going to be met by this shopping center in any form. This land could have synergized the East and West sides of town. Could have increased tourism by boosting individuality. And could have encouraged urban innovation in future projects.

But at least we’re getting something more modern. The original and previously envisioned designs were even less inspiring. Some essentially called it a 1970s architectural abomination requiring travel by car exclusively which, among others, alienates key concepts from the city’s General Plan.

This is precisely the platform the Petaluma community coalition (PCC) folks are standing on with the lawsuit and appeal filed against the city for Regency’s East Washington Place. It created a sort’ve trifecta of inaction with the City, PCC and Regency occupying corners and preventing ground-breaking of the project.

The latest is a deal involving all three that meets some each’s criteria requested; I imagine it as a precarious compromise at best. First off, Regency will drop their “unjustly delays” lawsuit and pay for the city’s legal fees required to defend itself against the suit. PCC has also agreed to drop their lawsuit contingent upon a few design changes.
Continue reading →

Apr 10

Beware CA GOP Governor hopeful, Steve Poizner

Never have I heard such a blatant recount of a politician so out of touch with the common American. His book, entitled “Mount Pleasant” about his one-month teaching stint at an average middle-class public high school in San Jose, is full of exaggerations and misconceptions.

The latest episode of This American Life takes an act to investigate the book’s colorful descriptions and quite effectively establishes solid facts contrary to billionare Mr. Poizner’s published perspective. When confronted about the lies, including city & police statistics as well as quotations from those he worked with at the school, Poizner blindly sticks to his own account. He places blame on unmotivated kids and an imaginative neighborhood full of crime.

The only hopeful moment comes near the end of the TAL act in which Ira interviews the school teacher who oversaw Mr. Poizner’s class. This teacher says that inspite of Poizner’s inaccurate interpretation of the setting, he seemed to genuinely care about the kids future.

Even so, Steve’s unwillingness to concede even the slightest admittance that he may have gotten it wrong, is a frightening reflection of his inability to produce objective judgement. His narcissism is so thick it’s suffocating. He squirms and flakes off in his answers to Ira’s straight – are you sure you got it right – questions.

A person unable to concede mistakes and misuse facts to self-serving ends (to get elected) is not someone we want heading our State.

Apr 10

How to win at the “platform” game

A contemporary story brought to you by Twitter… who arguably, would have never risen to its present great heights in popularity, and thereby valuation, if not for the labors of its creative users… and now, we shall see their true colors…

“…Twitter investor Fred Wilson speculated that Twitter would edge out third-party developers whose add-ons for the microblogging service merely filled feature holes that the company ought to have built itself. Then Twitter, which previously hadn’t developed its own mobile apps, bought Tweetie, a popular Twitter service for the iPhone, and released its own BlackBerry app.”

With apparent lack of long term reputation strategy, their latest purchase is not well timed as “…these announcements came right before Twitter’s big developer conference, Chirp, which opens in San Francisco tomorrow.”

Twitter also purchased Summize nearly two years ago to fill the former void of search.

And the lesson to gleamed from Twitter’s totally tubular tale is… “The real reason to build a platform is to boost your company’s valuation. An open application programming interface lets third-party developers donate their labor and ideas to the cause of enriching your investors. And through their creativity, investors get inspired about the potential to make money.”

The moral of the story is: be the foundation (platform), not the pretty structure that sits above it. Because if you’re a company building off of some other company’s platform, being bought out is the only way to achieve a big pay day. Good luck with that.

Quotes from VentureBeat’s “How Twitter won the platform gamble“.

Also worth noting, as another prime example, Apple’s App-store.

Feb 10

iPad to raise the cost of eBooks

With all the hype, leverage potential and uber proprietary platform, why wouldn’t publishers jump ship to Apple?  It’s a rather sad state of capitalistic greed, out to scrooge the consumer.  Isn’t more competition suppose to reduce prices? Seemingly not, what with a third [large] publisher set to switch from camp Kindle (Amazon) to iPad (Apple).


Apple’s infamous stance on DRM makes the move seem sadly inevitable, as it stacks up as another reason why they begin to hold a majority of publishers favor.  Amazon on the other hand, is renowned to fight for DRM-free low cost content – check out their awesome mp3 store for example – thusly taking the side of the consumer.  While Apple’s stores oft take to exploiting its platform popularity to permit for higher cost content and superfluous copyright protection.

Furthermore since dinosaurs still roam the free market, their influence is impossible to outright ignore.

“We don’t like the Amazon model of $9.99 . . . We think it really devalues books and hurts all the retailers of hardcover books . . .And now Amazon is willing to sit down with us again and renegotiate.”

Ahh Rupert, Mr. Murdoch you stay classy, what with your intense inability to expand beyond your traditional business models.   Paid web content?  Not going to happen, at least not the way you invision.   But, I digress.

A lower priced product makes perfect economical sense, lower the cost to the consumer and you’ll sell more.  Raise prices, sell less, profit less.  Amazon already takes a loss at the current price point of $10 for new book releases.  I imagine this is in effort to promote their own platform’s (i.e. Kindle) vitality.

And that’s ok, because they understand the economic balance. So, this means either publishers are simply getting greedier, as the cost to produce an eBook is about as close to $0 as it gets.  Or Amazon is expected to make up for the cost of producing a hardcover book that is predominantely sold at retail stores that are far & wide going out of business.