Tuesday, February 29, 2000
Southwest Airlines is now the top airline for online sales. This is somewhat interesting because Southwest has often been held up as a company that didn't get it. In reality, they did: they make it very easy to reserve tickets, and get the rest out of your way. Compare that to just about every other airline site, where you have to create an account and remember some bizarre assigned password before you can do a damn thing.
I've gotten myself on a top 100 Manila weblogs list. It doesn't include Blogger logs, nor custom collaborative systems like Slashdot, Metafilter, and Memepool.
Sunday, February 27, 2000
No Web Patents is irritated at amazon.com, and no wonder. Amazon seems to have a particular prediliction for finding broad reaching patents on trivial inventions and then using them against competitors.
On the other hand, today's Patent Office encourages patenting everything in sight, or someone else will come along and do it and use it against you. If amazon.com didn't patent everything they could, they'd be foolish. However, they could patent things, and then not use them except defensively, when they were sued for patent infringement first.
Meanwhile, what does it take to get the patent system fixed? Not the laws, the laws were flawed but workable. What does it take to get the USPTO to stop patenting obvious inventions, or patenting things that already exist just because someone put the word "Internet" in the patent application (Priceline's reverse auction model is the same model by which securities have been bought and sold for years, on computer networks no less; affiliate programs are nothing more than finder's fees online; etc.)? I've heard a lot of whining. What does it take to change things?
Friday, February 25, 2000
Al Gore supports killing innocent people for publicity reasons.
What's with all the gratuitous porn references on weblogs these days? Meta. Meta. Meta. Boring. Knock it off.
MacOS Rumors reports on all sorts of functionality changes in the Mac OS X gui. That doesn't sound too good. MOSR also talks about how easy it is to secure UNIX. They're on crack. Combining bits from different OSs gives you more security holes, not fewer, because you have to re-audit everything and re-examine all your interactions.
Thursday, February 24, 2000
Rafe Colburn says that the Open Source community has plenty of experience with mission critical software, and cites Apache, BIND and sendmail as examples. Apache, BIND and sendmail are buggy, insecure, and crash constantly (people don't notice, because they do better than shrinkwrap Windows software). I have DNS outages daily. Sendmail is the cause of about 400% of all UNIX breakins. How much allowable downtime do you want on the air traffic control networks? Basic telephone networks have regulated maximum downtimes on the order of 2 hours per forty years of operation (too bad my cell phone can't find the network for hours after I turn it on).
CeBIT, The largest computer trade show in Europe does not recognize online journalists - "writing for the Internet is no proof of being a reporter". Two sites in question were Tom's Hardware and The Register, two of the most read computer news sites on the net. "The clue phone is ringing, pick it [...] up!" -Richard Metzger
After I forwarded Ten Things I Hate About Web Businesses around, a substantial number of people wrote me to tell me they'd printed it out and posted it in their offices.
Blinded by Science - "Harry and Schroeder assert that companies can expect to achieve higher profitability, increases in market share and lower costs if they use Six Sigma. The assertion is compelling but it's difficult to verify, since the average executive will find it hard to conduct a comprehensive survey of the quality level at every company and how it correlates with changes in net income." [additional ranting about telecoms deleted] The article makes a "good obvious point": know what you're trying to achieve, be methodical, look before you leap.
Wednesday, February 23, 2000
I've spent the last month on the phone with people at various levels of just about every phone company in the United States of America, and I have this to say about the industry as a whole: You fail. You have the most disorganized, half-assed, bureaucratic, anti-customer disaster of corporate behavior I've ever experienced. From finding someone who will actually take my money for your services, to finding someone who will help me get the services working once I've paid for them, you guys score a big fat F. The only reason your companies haven't universally gone out of business is that you all suck equally, there's no better competition to go to. If you wonder why people like dealing with Internet companies and hate dealing with you, it's simple: they try.
Apparently it's Extra Bitter Week over here at faisal.com.
Macintouch has a long series of letters aguing for and against moving the Mac OS X foundation from Mach/BSD onto Linux. They miss the point. The people who favor BSD favor it for the wrong reasons (minor technical benefits). The people who favor Linux are ignoring the problems (the cost and difficulty of porting everything this late in the game). The main benefits, so far as Apple should be concerned, are marketing ("Linux Linux Linux!"). Some people argue that there is an additional benefit of getting access to Linux apps, but that's misleading: the open source UNIX apps are already available, and the closed source apps won't run on OS X because the Mac hardware is different.
Wes Felter has more to say on the subject, and links to even more.
Dana Blankenhorn's latest article argues that a photographer whose images were copied by and displayed upon ditto.com's web site should not be able to claim copyright infringement because he didn't take any technological steps to prevent such theft. His suggestion: the photographer should have put the pictures behind a firewall. Free clue: you don't put the picture behind a firewall, you put the entire web site behind the firewall, and if you do that, nobody can get to it. Additional free clue: copying material and using it on your own web site has nothing to do with "how the web works". This lawsuit is not about technology, it's about the limits of "fair use".
Tuesday, February 22, 2000
Forum 2000 - "When you're too busy surfing to solve your own problems!™"
Something I should not have to be saying this late in the Web game:
- Good business sites work because they are simple and quick-to-load
sites without a lot of graphical nonsense.
- Bad business sites have lots of visual spoo.
- Then someone realizes that potential customers / readers / whatever
are getting turned off because no one wants to wait for hours to
download your stupid animated graphics.
- So they do a "simple" version of the site, presumably for people on
"slow connections" (read: not on the ad agency's DS-3 connection).
- So the user gets to the site, and instead of finding the material
they're looking for, has to make a decision about what kind of
connection they have (and, if they are Joe Average User, they neither
know nor care).
- But that is not the point.
- The real point is:
- It's always framed in pejorative terms. There's "high quality"
and "low quality". Invariably the terms are in the wrong place. "High
quality" is supposed to mean "cute graphics" but in fact means "the
user experience sucks". "Low quality" refers to "simple and easy to
use on a slow connection", which, as you may have noticed, contains
"simple and easy to use". This drives me up the wall.
- A better suggestion might be to call one "fast" and the other one
- An even better suggestion might be to stop pretending you're the
next Mark Rothko, drop the snazzy graphics, drop the stupid choice,
make the page simple, and concentrate on the customer's needs and the
experience they'll have while at your site.
Monday, February 21, 2000
moviefone.com calls The Whole Nine Yards "Another mob movie by My Cousin Vinny director Jonathan Lynn." Of course, Jonathan Lynn has never done a mob movie before, least of all My Cousin Vinny. The decision as to whether to assign moviefone.com's incompetence to the typecasting of Joe Pesci or Italian-American stereotyping is left as an excercise to the reader.
Thursday, February 17, 2000
Hmm. I got mentioned in ClickZ. Note that I did not say that we should break amazon.com's patents, the patents are completely unrelated to the issue.
What I said was that things like one click ordering were a bad idea (from a security point of view), everyone (who thought about security) knew they were a bad idea, and then Amazon went and did it and patented it (and has not yet suffered a breakin), so now business people (who do not think about security issues) think it's a good idea. That is completely seperate from the issue of amazon.com's patents.
I did (sort of) say the stuff in the first paragraph mentioning me.
Note that what I (sort of) said in that first paragraph was in alignment with what I say here (above) but the direct opposite of what Blankenhorn claims I said about amazon.com.
- "The more you say, the less people hear."
There's a Wittgenstein note on the subject, I can't remember it. Grn.
Wednesday, February 16, 2000
Starting today at noon you'll be able to backup your pets, in preparation for disaster, at the Genetic Savings and Clone.
Tuesday, February 15, 2000
This entry has no point other than to test out the new Manila HTML editor in MSIE5 for Windows. It's cool, if simplistic (proof of concept level, it needs to be a little more slick before it's really ready), but I must say that Dave & Co never case to amaze.
Monday, February 14, 2000
A friend will help you move. A good friend will send you really good chocolate on Valentine's Day. I'm going to expire from sugar shock. (thank you)
Sunday, February 13, 2000
Goodbye, Ernest - "Jim Varney, the rubbernecked comic who parlayed his rube character "Ernest" from hundreds of television commercials to a series of hit movies, died today at his home. He was 50."
Friday, February 11, 2000
The Hacks and IPv6 - Dana Blankenhorn explains how IPv6 tapping would solve the current DoS problem, and makes fun of people who are worried about government abuse of the technology. Only one problem: he's completely wrong. IPv6 tapping is irrelevant: we know exactly what's in the packets, we just don't want them showing up. Tracing won't help any more than it does now because the packets are forged. Individual address numbering is also irrelevant, for the same reasons (and people will still want to use NAT). It would be helpful if self-proclaimed marketing consultants would acquire some clue before pretending to understand slightly complex technical issues.
Wednesday, February 09, 2000
Regarding Customers as Business Collaborators - "See yourself as others see you. A vital source of strength, maybe the most vital, lies in the untapped power of your customers to exploit the Internet."
Tuesday, February 08, 2000
Stupidest yuppie whining ever: Oprah wants to outlaw bike riding in cities. Never mind ecology, the fact that there already are laws about bike riding in the city, or the fact that most bicycle accidents are due to negligent, careless motorists who can't share the road. Easier just to ban what we don't like!
Sunday, February 06, 2000
recordable.com has the chutzpa to tell the truth about UPS Ground. Look for "IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT UPS GROUND".
Saturday, February 05, 2000
Thursday, February 03, 2000
Tuesday, February 01, 2000
Colorado College is supplementing the SATs with a test based on Legos.