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May 31, 2006

RSS A Demanding Mistress

Just like any other self-respecting techie, I'm subscribed to dozens of RSS feeds - from technology and sports news sites, to popular blogs, and Google news alerts on a whole host of keywords, for both personal and work use. One of the first tasks each morning after opening up the laptop is to click on NetNewsWire and scroll through the night's news until I'm caught up.

However, even with this diligence, by the time I get to the office and log in, there are dozens more new stories that have popped up on RSS. I've synchronized my work and home computers through NewsGator, meaning I don't have to read the same stories twice, but it doesn't mean I have the luxury of sitting back while the world revolves around me. In fact, just in the time it took to write these two paragraphs, a simple refresh picked up 27 new articles for perusal, boosting the 89 new items at the time of the below screenshot to a more robust 116.


NetNewsWire In Action


The benefits of RSS are obvious - instead of looking for news and information, it comes to me. Combined with alerts from Google News, I can track for news coverage on my company and the competition - instantly, always staying a step ahead of colleagues, the PR firm, and others not utilizing the services. Even better, the latest edition of NetNewsWire now lets users click and view the stories inside the application, instead of opening up to a new Web browser. I'd say I now read a significant percentage of my browsed articles within NetNewsWire instead of Safari now, and that number is ever-increasing, as the sites I regularly visit are supplanted through their feeds.

But I think I may just have reached the level where I don't want to add much more. If I do add regularly-updated feeds, I give some thought as to removing others that offer high quantity, but not high quality. (I'm looking at you, InformationWeek and News.com!) If you're not at this stage yet, give NetNewsWire a spin. And if you're on a PC instead of a Mac, NewsGator also offers FeedDemon, which is probably good, but not nearly as fun. You should just get a Mac anyway.

Listening to ''Columbia'', by Paul Van Dyk (Play Count: 3)

ANtics Special: Bulls-Eye!

Following last night's defeat, the second in a row, against the lowly Royals, drastic measures have been taken to ensure an A's fan's sanity.

Disclaimer: These are intended for fun only. Any harm, injury, or threats thereof are not sanctioned by Athletics Nation, the ANtics, or any similar governing body. Any desire for additional "headshots" can be taken by e-mail.

(Neighbors, girlfriends, and others unaffiliated with the A's organization and its related entities do not qualify)

To Download: PC and Mac: Right Click and select "Save Image As", "Save As", or "Save Image to Desktop", browser depending. For single-button Macs, click the image and drag to desktop. Happy throwing!



More here: Athletics Nation: Bullseye: Get Out Your Aggression - A's Style

Listening to ''Teen Angst'', by M83 (Play Count: 9)

May 30, 2006

As Google Grows Up, Bumps Taking Place

Google started out life as a simple search engine. With an uncluttered interface, users had access to what soon became the most thorough database on the Web, and from there, the company grew - adding paid ads alongside search results, and then an avalanche of applications, as the company's next moves and areas to add ad revenue seem limitless, from GMail to Google-branded classified ads, Google Desktop and more. But all through the process, the company's promised to not do evil, in direct contrast with Microsoft, who is widely respected for its own pact with Satan himself.

Now, as Google is seen as the 800 pound gorilla, those who follow the company's every step and speculate to their next move are growing increasingly wary, suggesting the company's honeymoon is over - that like Microsoft, IBM and basically any large company before it, Google is not to be trusted, and that a lack of information about their current and future business is hiding something - and that something is likely sinister. Media coverage, technology fans and business experts alike have changed their tone when discussing Google, no longer seeing it as a plucky upstart, but instead as a force to be reckoned with in every market. (See Google makes some missteps as it finds its way in corridors of power and Why Google makes everyone else nervous)

In fact, some are saying that as Google has grown and taken on new projects, they have lost their way, with nobody being held accountable for market share, growth, and the inevitable quest for profit. While the company continues to impress with the search market and advertising growth, some have said that Google's comparable market share in e-mail, news, financial information and mapping software are surprisingly low for what should be a market leader, and are calling for change - in the form of layoffs, starting with the CEO and working downward. Google and layoffs have scarcely been mentioned in the same breath before, and the company continues its massive expansion. Hardly a day goes by where one prominent geek hasn't announced on their personal blog that they've been hired by the search giant. But the tone has changed, and if Google's not careful, they'll find that consumers and media are very fickle, and what used to be open-ended good-will can play very much the opposite way.

Listening to ''Eclipse'', by Timo Maas (Play Count: 4)

For A's, Fireworks Somehow Avoid Team

This being the Memorial Day holiday, the Oakland A's did what was right and proper - holding an evening game at the Coliseum, with proper respect paid to the armed services, and finishing with a full fireworks display to honor the holiday. This being the second ballpark fireworks show for me in four days, I was pretty comfortable with what I could expect post-game, but the team manages to make each game just a little unexpected, and of late, those surprises haven't been positive. Today was no different, as the team managed to fall 6-4 against the lowly Royals, the ball club's 9th loss in its last 10 contests, pushing their record five games below the .500 mark, the lowest point they have been all year. It is May after all. (See Blez's column on the toughest job in sports for fans - being an A's supporter in April or May)

Tonight was one of those nights where, on paper, it seemed the A's were destined to win. The Kansas City Royals have been perennial doormats in the American League Central, and had won only three games on the road all year. Going to the mound was A's reject pitcher Seth Etherton, who couldn't find a spot on the A's starting rotation in 2005. Yet somehow the team never led in the game, falling behind 2-0 early, and not getting much closer, as the Royals tacked on runs later in the game to pull away, rendering a ninth-inning home run by Nick Swisher meaningless. Insult to injury was made complete when supposed team leader Eric Chavez grounded into a double play to end the game, instead of blasting a tying home run in the seats, as I'm sure his contract stipulates.

Unlike others, we're not in full panic mode, ready to call for Ken Macha's head on a stick, or demand wild-eyed trades, demotions and benchings. The A's struggles on a general level still track back to the fact that many key players, especially in their pitching rotation have spent more time on the trainer's table than they have on the field in recent weeks, and the team has had to compete with players who expected to be spending more time in Sacramento in AAA than in the big time. We have to remain optimistic that if the club ever has its full squad in gear, that they can execute solidly on their potential and take charge in an otherwise lukewarm American League West division, which has the Rangers in sole possession of first place, four games up. Then, we can see real fireworks on the field.

Listening to ''Chapel Of Rest'', by Last Prayer (Play Count: 6)

Web Site Layout In Graph Form

I ran across an interesting tool yesterday afternoon, which will take any Web site and display it in a graph form, similar to a molecular structure, based on the site's links, graphics and typography.

Below is a screenshot of the graph for louisgray.com/live


Click for full image


For other popular graphs, start here: http://www.aharef.info/static/htmlgraph/

Examples: Apple.com | Google.com | ESPN.com | Yahoo.com

Listening to ''Assorted Trance Volume 10'', by DJ Irish (Play Count: 5)

May 28, 2006

ANtics Episode 2.14: Streak Outs for Troops

On Saturday, the A's concluded a 7-game losing streak by defeating the division rival Texas Rangers, on the back of a pitching gem by lefty ace hurler Barry Zito. With that streak now complete, the ANtics investigates some of the lesser-known ongoing streaks you may not have heard about, in "Streak Outs for Troops".



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ANtics Archive: 2005/06 ANtics | PDF

Looking to 2008... Already

Growing up, I was enamored by primary politics. I can remember at the age of 11 hiding behind the couch so I could see the NBC Nightly News reports on the "Super Tuesday" results, scribbling down who had won, state by state. I was hiding behind the couch as my parents had of course told me to go to bed. It was a school night after all. But to me, finding out if Al Gore had successfully pulled off his southern strategy and taken a lead against Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson was more important than catching a few more hours of sleep.

Flash forward 18 years later, and Al Gore continues to come up as a potential ascendant to the presidential throne - if it can still be called that after the last six years of nonsense from the current administration. Given how Bush's popularity is in the toilet, down at the 30% approval range, pundits and voters alike are eager for a change - anything. Polls are already being taken on who should be the candidate on the Democratic side, and whether they would fare well against a similar guessing game of Republican names. And Gore keeps coming up, even if he says he's not interested.

According to a multitude of recent polls, Hillary Clinton continues to poll the highest among registered Democrats, with John Kerry, Al Gore, John Edwards and a host of also-rans falling behind in line. And don't think it's too early to pick a winner. The New York Times ran a front-page piece on George W. Bush's candidacy for the Republican nomination before a single ballot had been cast in Iowa or New Hampshire in 2000. On the Republican side, it's widely expected that John McCain will make a successful run, with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani also being named.

What's different this time around, according to just about everybody, is the ascendency of Internet-based politicking, whether the focus is on issues or fund-raising. It's believed that waiting around for huge donations of soft money from large donors isn't the answer any longer, and he or she who operates the most well-honed Web strategy is going to take the prize. This is well chronicled in "Crashing the Gate", and this week, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek comes to the same conclusions in a piece titled, "A New Open-Source Politics". I believe its one thing to harness the energy of the Internet, and quite another to expect that the Netroots are going to act as efficient replacements for the ATM. If one candidate asks for supporters to pony up the dough too many times, whatever advantage they once had will be gone - as they change from presidential candidate to spam candidate - to be filtered as junk.

For me, the biggest disappointment about 2008 projections is a name that is missing. Howard Dean seems to be the strongest on the issues, and aligns with my preferences in a very clear way. While he is doing outstanding work as the chairman for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), I had wished he would give it another run at the chief executive position. In 2004, he had already withdrawn his name as a candidate by the time we in California had the opportunity to vote, and in the back of my head, I wish we had another shot at it. We don't need another repeat of John Kerry, and Hillary, although formidable, simply can't expect to overcome the hatred of the shallow South. It should be an interesting few years.

Listening to ''Inner Depth'', by Jerry Bonham (Play Count: 3)

Morning Notes: May 28, 2006

More in an irregularly occurring series...

If you were a monster monolith company and found yourself in 3rd place in a major market, what would you do? Cheat to get to the top? What if that's already been done, and you were fined billions of dollars? Turns out the next step is to kiss up to the market leaders or try to buy them. After last month's discussion that Microsoft tried to partner with Yahoo! against Google, the latest rumors have Microsoft trying to buy eBay and make eBay part of the MSN experience. Yikes. I am sure that eBay would see a flood of buyers and sellers elsewhere rather than share their money with Bill Gates, or see beta software impact their auctions, Microsoft style.

Speaking of market leader search engines, Google is now turning the corner on visual design if the latest news is to be believed. Rather than priding themselves on minimalism forever, it looks like the company is recognizing that applications need more visual care than simple Web sites. As a result, they've just taken on a new hire as a "visual design lead", who will bring flair to all things Google.

Guy Kawasaki continues his "Lies" thread, today introducing the Top Sixteen Lies of CEOs. After slamming engineering, marketing, VCs and others, I'm sure he'll get around to the top ten lies of the maintenance crew shortly.

And if you've ever wondered just why the Apple iPod has dominated the music scene since its introduction, The Observer (UK) discusses the unique alignment of the customer experience with a single slick device. I can't remember the last time I looked forward to walking into a warehouse-like record store only to put down $15 to $18 for a CD album. iTunes has made the music buying experience a relative pleasure rather than a seeming chore.

Listening to ''Push Upstairs - Roger S Blue P'', by Underworld (Play Count: 5)

Da Vinci Code

The film has been the talk of the summer - much of it around Tom Hanks' flowing locks of hair and the critics' near universal dislike of Ron Howard's film adaptation of the Dan Brown novel, but the Da Vinci Code continues to pull in viewers, raking in $70+ million in box office its opening weekend, and trailing only the dominant X-Men 3 in its second weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

My wife and I pulled into one of the later showings tonight, starting the film at 10:15, and despite arriving 10 minutes early, we found the theater packed. In fact, the only row that had two adjacent seats was the very front row, where we found ourselves facing a huge screen that had us craning left and right to see the action ahead, or racing to read the subtitles as they came on screen, when if sat further back we could have grasped them immediately.

Having managed to avoid reading the novel myself, I came in to the film without deep-set expectations or mental comparisons of how the film would perform versus the novel on which it was based. For my wife that was not the case, and after a series of "That's not how it was in the book!", I made it clear I didn't care, and was trying to enjoy the film for what it was - an attempt to cram a novel's worth of detail, symbols and history into 2 and a half hours of less detailed fare. While the plot line itself was interesting and loosely based on historical fact and religious history, it wasn't any kind of thriller that one would go to time and again or widely recommend. It didn't have any scenes that grabbed you for fear, drama, romance or comedy. Instead it pushed forward from clue to clue and limited character development, focusing on only 4 or 5 main actors without delving too far into their background, with snippets only offering yet more clues to how they got there.

As for the movie's main premises, it's not my place to say how right or how wrong they are. The best part of religion in general is having some things make absolute logical sense, and much more unknown, where faith in the unseen bridges the gap. No amount of debate or research can wholly serve that purpose, as more knowledge often leads to more questions.

Listening to ''Assorted Trance Volume 15'', by DJ Irish (Play Count: 3)

May 27, 2006

Late-Night Notes: May 27th, 2006

More in an irregularly occurring series...

Apple lost its case against the anonymous folks who leaked information about an as of yet unreleased product. The computer/iPod company had argued that product leakers and their activities with bloggers were not protected by first amendment, but the courts have disagreed. Maybe now Apple will see the range of leakery that reigned in the times of MacWeek.

A side called "Advertising for Peanuts" clearly explains a big issue in the marketing/PR/advertising world, where we note the war between the creative side and those who own the product, who think you have to cram all sorts of niddly details in a piece, when simplicity is much more of a sure thing. They say, simply, "This usually results in a crappy commercial." Duh. Now if only those who are the problem would ever see the solution...

NBC News anchorman Brian Williams sits down with Apple CEO Steve Jobs following the company's unveiling of a new Apple store in New York City, and peers into his mind, calling him an iconoclast and salesman in one. Jobs argues that innovation needs to ever continue, and that you can't be satisfied with your latest success.

Meanwhile, in Microsoft land, Mini-Microsoft reports that the rumored reductions in force (RIF) are beginning in some areas, a move applauded, yet echoes concern that those cutting jobs are the ones who need to be leaving themselves. Of course, in a Dilbert-run world, that's how it is and always will be, especially in the largest of large companies. While Mini can hope, reality is just that those who have the money and power will continue to do so.

Listening to ''LSI (Love Sex Intelligence)'', by Shamen (Play Count: 11)

Roaming In the Land of Barry Bonds

As mentioned previously, we had a rare opportunity to attend a Giants game in San Francisco tonight. With my A's in the midst of losing the team's seventh straight contest in Texas, at least one Bay Area team could try and make headway in the win-loss column, even if they were wearing black and orange, not green and gold. A vendor from the office had offered a free game with all the amenities possible, and we agreed to go, even if we still demanded to wear our A's cap and A's sweatshirt - both essential elements at every good ballgame.

The seats, in a depressed area alongside first base and the visitors bullpen, were very interesting. Though closer to the players than any other seats I've ever attended a game in, they didn't offer the clearest view, surprisingly, as the angle meant some pitches or plays were obscured by a thick, padded bar running along the top of the fence. Despite that annoyance, we were close enough to the action to fear the occasional foul ball, and we could see Barry Bonds grin as he trotted to first base on a walk, and we could judge how ballplayers' uniforms looked - from the old-school approach preferred by Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, sporting knee-high socks, or the baggy jeans look preferred by Rockies relievers.

In fact, at one point, a sky-high popup made its way toward us, and I had my glove in the air, only to see the ball drift further back and out of reach. A minute later, my phone rang, and a colleague, seeing the game on TV, said, "Why didn't you catch that?", having spotted my A's cap when the overhead camera traversed our area. She was teasing, but it was fun to see we had made it on the big screen, even if only briefly.

In great contrast to the A's struggles, the Giants never trailed in the game, and finished it up strong, pulling away en route to a 9-0 victory that saw great hitting, not only from Bonds, but from a rookie first baseman, Travis Ishikawa, who after limited plate appearances, is now sporting a .667 average, and is slugging 1.000, sporting 2 doubles and 2 singles in 6 at bats. Meanwhile, Jason Schmidt continued his hot pitching, following last week's 130+ pitch effort against the A's with seven shutout innings. Barry didn't hit 715, but there were fireworks after the game of the real variety, as to celebrate Memorial Day, San Francisco's night sky lit up with bursts of color, previewing what will very likely be quite a similar show in Oakland this next Monday.

Though I had a good time, no amount of free food and excellent seats can obscure the fact that this wasn't my team on the field. The A's weren't there, and as a real fan I should not have enjoyed the Giants game any more than if I had stayed at home to see the A's fail on television, and surprisingly, in some ways, that's true. But I'm glad we went.

Listening to ''Perfect Silence (Album Mix)'', by Blank & Jones (Play Count: 4)

Free, Free, Free

We've lately been trying to save money. Beyond avoiding outlandish purchases, we're taking a lot of shortcuts to avoid spending money where we don't have to, so when we have the opportunity to get something for free, and have a good time as well, bring it on.

Last weekend, when the A's had three sellout games against the Giants, the team put on a promotion where Round Table Pizza gave away personal pizzas to every member of the crowd. Simply by exchanging the tickets, we could get free pizza for the next week. Having attended all three games, that meant on Monday, Thursday and today, we were at our local Round Table, spending all of $1 or $2 on lunch (covering drinks and tax) and doing our best freeloader impersonation.

This was made even better tonight, when a vendor from the office treated us to field-level tickets at the Giants game tonight in San Francisco. Not only were the tickets free, but so was the food, and drink, and continuing in my cheap phase, I convinced a colleague to drive there and back so he would cover gas. In fact, we parked outside of the stadium... again for free. Good deal! All told, we got three lunches, dinner, drinks, a game and parking for the princely sum of about six bucks this week - not saying that the food will do me any good, and that my waistline may be increasing at the same rate as my wallet, but it's a start.

Listening to ''Inertia'', by Fragile Feat. Alex Lemon (Play Count: 3)

May 25, 2006

Advanced Math Problem

This struck me as a challenging equation this morning, so I just had to do it. The answer has already been determined, but I'd be eager to learn how you would address it.

Problem Set

With my birthdate being April 8, 1977, and I've worked at the same company since January 24, 2001, and today's date being May 25, 2006, this means that I've been employed at the company for 1,947 days, of my total 10,639 days alive on this planet, good for an 18.3% mark.

A colleague of mine, born on April 24, 1982, joined the company on October 18, 2004, and has worked at the company for 584 days of her total 8,797 days alive on the planet, giving her a 6.6% mark.

Assumptions

Both of us will continue working at the same company, uninterrupted.

Question

On what day will my colleague have been working at the company a higher percentage of her life than I have?

To be answered tomorrow...

Listening to ''The Nightfly (Short Cut)'', by Blank & Jones (Play Count: 4)

May 24, 2006

Watching the A's Offense - Not So Fun

The A's went down to defeat at the hands of the Chicago White Sox again today, falling 3-2, and found themselves swept in the series. Watching the team bat now, especially during this five-game losing streak, is frustrating to say the least. They don't really have legitimate power, and the two guys who were carrying the team in April have inevitably slowed down, so much so that the homerless Jason Kendall has now risen to the top of the list as an offensive power, a point ludicrous only months ago.

As a diehard fan, I start every game knowing that the A's have the advantage, and that they will emerge victorious against the undeserving opposition. But as the definition of insanity goes, how many times do we watch them perform so badly in the same fashion and expect a different result? When does a five-game losing streak look less like an aberration and more like an accurate portrayal of the team's skills? It certainly gets frustrating.

As I told a friend last week, getting depressed over social issues or personal despair isn't entirely logical to many men, but to live and die based on the local sports team's ability to win games makes perfect sense. I know my days are better when the A's win, and I know I start the next day in a funk if they didn't come out on top. It's time to find the "offensive" pill the A's are looking for to eradicate depression from my life.

Listening to ''Dirty Epic'', by Underworld (Play Count: 6)

Get Rich Quick!

Or at least, that's always the idea... why would you want to have to work every single day of your life and either not get rich, or have it take so long that you don't get to enjoy the benefits? Everybody wishes it were that easy, even if we don't admit it. That's one idea behind trying to time first-day IPO stocks, and why many try to get in on the ground floor of startups, with the hope that 2 to 4 years of 80 hour workweeks and the elimination of a social life will translate into riches beyond belief.

If you're of that type, and you're not exactly satisfied with how your first day results are on Vonage (as the stock dipped 15% or so in the first day, much to my chagrin), then Business 2.0 has the how-to list on creating a bulletproof successful startup. Of course, it always looks easy when you have lego-like cartoon images that demonstrate product development, launch and the inevitable requirement of talking to VCs. Heck, if they are so bright, how come they are just reporters at a industry trade rag that got absorbed by Fast Company a few years back? What? They thought we forgot? And remember when they were as big as phone books? How did that work out?

Listening to ''Adrenalin'', by Purple Haze (Play Count: 7)

May 23, 2006

To Vonage or Not? 1999 Redux

You know you're in a period resembling a bubble when companies that have a long history of consistent losses, without end in sight, who pride themselves on cost per acquired customer, are thinking of going public and raising ungodly amounts of money. You also can tell that the bubble period is upon you if you're actively considering putting money into the IPO on the first day "just in case".

Such is the case with the latest IPO du jour, Vonage, who raised more than $500 million after pricing its initial shares at $17 apiece. The VoIP specialist is looking to go public tomorrow, and hopes that its stock echoes the meteoric rise of Google and Baidu, rather than the sinking lead balloon of so many others.

Critics far and wide have criticized Vonage's model, saying the company doesn't offer unique differentiation over services such as Skype, yet somewhere out there are enough investors to give Vonage what it needs even more than customer growth - $500 million smackers. The only question is - will I too try to cash in on what might be a first day pop, for a stock I have no interest in holding long term? Will I have regrets if I do? Will I have regrets if I don't?

I famously had the opportunity to buy 100 shares of Google at 90 and walked away from the chance. I also flipped Baidu on its first day for some quick money, but was on an airplane when the stock first hit the ticker tape, and missed out on tens of thousands more. But I've also put money into stocks like Salesforce.com and Rackable on their first week only to see the trend go down or flat. One never knows, and if we did, the SEC would want to know about it. Keep you posted....

Listening to ''LSG'', by Sasha (Play Count: 4)

May 22, 2006

Morning Notes: May 22, 2006

More in an irregularly occurring series...

In what has to continue one of the most-serious challenges to the field of journalism and the idea of free speech that we've ever seen, it now looks like the attorney general's office is going to prosecute reporters for publishing stories covering national security - even though the stories themselves have proven to be true. Additionally, as part of the government's increased activity around data collection, an AP story reports that the reporters' call records will be investigated, in an attempt to root out sources. This action is far more severe than any other previous administration has undertaken, even the notoriously paranoid Nixon, and threatens the media's ability to accurately report on the White House, while also further clouding the administration's activities from those people who elected them in the first place.

Guy Kawasaki continues to astound in his series of lists around business. In his latest salvo, "After the Honeymoon", he steps out of the venture capital phase and discusses some major issues that can impact companies taking the next step toward launching and shipping products in volume. The issues themselves are well known to Silicon Valley history buffs, but are well chronicled here.

Listening to ''iio - Rapture'', by Paul Van Dyk (Play Count: 9)

May 21, 2006

Plowing Through Season Finales

If you combine being on the road for a week with a slew of season finales from the biggest shows, you'll realize I have quite the backlog on my TiVo, and we're only now getting the opportunity to make headway. But whose idea is it to make each of these finales two hours each? Are they going to be twice as good, or just twice as long? Law & Order, Law & Order Criminal Intent and Conviction are each two hours apiece, and even with Tivo's patented fast-forward options for commercials, the end isn't exactly in sight yet.

Conviction's season finale was also, as you now know, the surprising series finale as well. That show finished well, and is significantly better than almost every other show out there, so someone should tell Dick Wolf to unwed his series to NBC, and start shopping it around. We still can't figure out the logic.

Listening to ''Safe'', by M83 (Play Count: 5)

Is Microsoft Poised for Massive Layoffs?

Microsoft, the gargantuan software monolith, has long been known for a number of things - aggressive marketing and business practices, a slew of software products, on again off again security, and an OS family that, while long in the tooth, is still the predominant OS for the vast majority of both home and business users. However, one thing the company has not been known for is a big word - layoffs. This all may soon change, if one Microsoft-focused blog is to be believed. Word is, with massive delays plaguing the company's next-generation Windows OS, Vista, heads are about to roll in the company's Windows division, and it could mean hundreds of lost jobs, not all of whom will find new jobs at the Redmond company.

One visitor to the site wrote, "I got wind today that a MASSIVE Windows RIF is in the works. It's real folks. Hundreds and hundreds of jobs. The good news is that other parts of MS will be able to absorb it. But if you want your pick of what's out there, beat the rush and don't wait for review time."

Now, it's one thing to believe anonymous posters on an anonymously-hosted blog, but Mini-Microsoft has had a direct line into the hearts and minds of those slogging away at the software giant, and if Web discussions are to be believed, this author's constant criticism of the company has had direct impact on real-world changes to Microsoft's HR policies.

We don't root for any individuals to find themselves in harm's way as a result of layoffs. I've been laid off once, and that once was enough. I've seen coworkers let go - some because they weren't pulling their weight, and others, because they were caught in the tide on its way out. But if Microsoft is to galvanize the technology industry the way they did in the 1990s, some big changes will have to happen - or companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo! and others we've never heard of will rule the future.

(Previous post on this topic: Microsoft in a Hard Place)

Listening to ''Halcyon + On + On'', by Orbital (Play Count: 3)

Wet and Cold In Oakland As A's Falter

We had looked forward to this three-game series against the Giants with great optimism. Not only would we have a chance to see Barry take on the Babe's statistics, but more importantly, our favorite team could obtain bragging rights in what's often a hostile rivalry, one that the Giants seem to have favor in the media race, even when the A's have accomplished much more during their tenure than have the Giants, amassing four World Series titles to the Giants zero, and continually making a run at the playoffs year after year. However, following today's 6-0 defeat, in which the A's could only manage a single hit, and never threatened, we find them losers of two out of three, yet still tied with Texas for first place in the division, who similarly fell against their rival Astros.

What made the day even more difficult was a steady rain that began in the first inning and continued throughout the nine-inning affair. While never truly threatening to stop the contest, we were first dampened, then cooled, then soaked, after hours of getting a wide-scale version of Chinese water torture - even as we watched our team get tortured in their own way, pitch after pitch from Giants hurler Matt Cain.

As we've noted a number of times on Athletics Nation, the A's offense has a special knack for making the opposing team's pitcher rival the memory of Cy Young. It seems even more likely that it's not the opponent's skills, but the A's weaknesses that are showing through. Even as we've seen some regulars shake off early-season doldrums that saw many below the Mendoza line, we're still not confident that they can go toe to toe with the best teams in the game after seeing what we did through this three-game series that had them outscored 10-3, and lucky to pull off the 1-0 victory Friday night.

Listening to ''March 2001'', by DJ Dawn (Play Count: 3)

ANtics Episode 2.13: 3 Games of Shadows

After today's wet, soggy defeat at the hands of our cross-bay rivals, the A's had dropped two of three to conclude what had otherwise been a strong week, and the team's still tied for first with Texas. But that's not what the baseball media has noticed. Instead it's been all Barry, all the time. We investigated these "3 Games of Shadows", and found the Giants players getting a little inappropriate with our players. No wonder they were afraid to get on base.



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ANtics Archive: 2005/06 ANtics | PDF | Take the Poll

Geeky Marriage Proposals

No... not involving me. I actually did it in a somewhat traditional manner, which may surprise you.

But while I may turn up my nose at people who attend sporting events like San Jose Sharks and Oakland A's games, only to propose via the JumboTron, with SJ Sharkie as the officiant, it turns out there are even more impersonal ways to ask that special someone to spend their life with you. Apparently, in the first day the Apple Store in SOHO New York was opened, there were not just one, but two, separate marriage proposals from uber-Apple geeks to the loves of their life. (No, not Steve Jobs...) And so far as we know, at least one of these young ladies said yes!

One of the engagements was proposed by a man who was #8 overall in line, waiting all night for the Apple Store to open. While the store itself is interesting, and may be a tourist stop the next time I'm in New York, I don't know that your future partner would want to recall that once in a lifetime opportunity with being up all night in the cold next to complete strangers. That's not right. And even more impersonally, one entrepreneur chose to propose via flashcards to Apple's Webcam covering the store opening.

What is this world coming to?

The best (in my opinion) marriage proposal in utter geekdom was pulled off by Rob Malda of Slashdot, when he proposed to his girlfriend via the well-read site on Valentine's Day. Her response, fifteen minutes later? "Yes, Dork. You made me cry. :)"

I guess in a world of drive-thru wedding chapels and chat rooms, these make sense, but I would hope that someone's loyalties, especially in family, could vault the digital divide - leaving behind the love of Apple or Google or Linux or what have you for something new and challenging in a different way. She will speak analog.

Listening to ''After Love (New Short Cut)'', by Piet Blank & Jaspa Jones (Play Count: 3)

May 20, 2006

Barry and the Giants Break Through

The Giants and A's were back at it in the second game of three at the Oakland Coliseum this afternoon, and unlike yesterday's contest, which saw the A's prevail 1-0 and hold Barry Bonds hitless, the Giants prevailed 4-2 in extra innings, sparked by Bonds' 714th career home run that tied him for second place overall with the legendary Babe Ruth.

Although all of us A's fans love to boo Barry, and did through each of his at bats, we also respect history, so when he took a pitch from Brad Halsey and deposited a rocket into the right field bleachers, we stood and applauded, even through two separate curtain calls for the man who has been posting stellar statistics for the better part of two decades, even through scandal.

The A's had their opportunities to win this afternoon's game, which would have presented the ultimate story, coming home with both a victory and to witness something special, but it was not meant to be. Despite leading 1-0 early, the team fell behind 2-1, unable to break through stellar pitching by Giants ace Jason Schmidt, who labored through 130 pitches in a solid effort.

A one-run 9th inning rally to tie the ballgame was stopped cold when Giants third baseman Pedro Feliz speared a lineout double play from the bat of Jason Kendall, which caught Bobby Crosby for the final out in regulation. Had the ball gone through, it'd be a whole different story, but instead, we saw A's reliever Kiko Calero load the bases to the Giants in the top of the 10th, and the team came around to score two unanswered runs. Though Eric Chavez came up in the bottom half with a chance to win the ballgame, his outfield fly didn't have enough to clear the fence, and we returned home losers.

I'm really on the fence, if that's possible, about Barry. I yearned and hoped that he hadn't taken steroids, for the cleanliness of the game. I read the stories about his brusqueness with reporters and teammates, but have also seen tenderness and dogged determination. Today, we cheered his accomplishments, and understand its significance. But let's hope the A's can emerge victorious overall in the series by posting a victory tomorrow. We'll be there watching.

Listening to ''Secrets & Lies (Activa Remix)'', by Blank & Jones (Play Count: 1)

louisgray.com Dashboard Widget 1.0 Released

I wrote about Apple Dashboard widgets last night, naming some of those I use the most frequently. But how hard can it be to make a widget for this site? I've been trying now and again, and after some code mucking, we're ready to debut version 1.0 of the louisgray.com dashboard widget!

The widget acts like any other Apple Dashboard widget. You can activate it and move it to any portion of your screen. Utilizing RSS, the widget will check the louisgray.com site every 15 minutes for new posts, and will display their headline and date in the widget, so you can see if the site has been updated, and click directly to the post. In fact, the 1.0 version of the widget has all posts available from the site, going back to the beginning of the year!

A screenshot is below.


Download now!