January 31, 2007

Scoble's Right: Technorati Isn't Scaling to Beat Google

I want to root for companies like Technorati, who have introduced new features and functionality for today's interactive, social Web. Technorati, when the site is up, is one of the best for tracking the popularity of topics and conversations, or to see which bloggers are among the most frequently linked to. But for months, the site has been riddled with slowness, server timeouts during searches or peak load, and most recently, has seen outage after outage. (The above image was posted on their site tonight, during some updates.)

In the past, Technorati CEO David Sifry has been open about the scalability problems. Just this last July, he commented on a previous note I made about the slowness, saying:
    You make a great point, we've been working very hard on building out the scalability and reliability of the Technorati service... Making sure that regular users like you are getting what you need, every time, quickly, is intensly important, and I want to know if you or anyone you know is having problems, so we can address the issues immediately...

His openness and speaking directly to the blogging community is commendable. I love the personal touch. But the truth is that Technorati still isn't scaling, and as Robert Scoble has pointed out time and again, Google's Blog Search tool is getting increasingly better, closing the gap between it and the blog search pioneers, including Technorati.

Meanwhile, Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion found one likely reason Technorati isn't that focused on keeping their core search tool on top of its game. He discovered on Tuesday that Technorati is planning a Digg-like competitor called Technorati WTF, short for "Where's the Fire"? Yet, that site still isn't live, though it could be coming shortly, causing some of the recent downtime.

Just like I mentioned with YouTube recently, downtime is not an acceptable part of today's Web-driven world. If you can't deliver your core services, then why are you adding new features? Fix what is broken, and learn how to make updates without impacting the users. I haven't seen Google go down for maintenance, maybe ever. If they're up and you're down, where are the users going to go?

Previous Stories:
Silly YouTube - Where's The Redundancy?
Web 2.0 Companies Play With Error Messages

Windows Vista: Lipstick on a Pig

Noted Web pioneer Dave Winer chimes in on the hype around Microsoft's latest release to the Operating System formerly known as Longhorn...

"$500 million of marketing can't hide the fact that these days it's hard to find anyone who cares about Windows."
Via Scripting.com (Jan. 31, 2007)

New Apple Airport On Its Way Early

While it wasn't as exciting as learning my new AppleTV had shipped, or if I had somehow obtained early access to the iPhone, I received a pleasant message in my e-mail today, as Apple let me know they had received clearance to offer their newest 802.11n-capable Airport base stations, and they were set to ship immediately, a full two weeks ahead of schedule. Now, instead of expecting my new wireless experience in March, it's looking a lot more like I'll be zipping around wirelessly a lot more quickly come Valentine's Day or so.

Below is the text of the e-mail.

To Our Valued Apple Customer:

Apple today began shipping our new AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11n). We
are delighted to tell you that we plan to ship your AirPort Extreme Base
Station (802.11n) two weeks earlier than we had anticipated. We now plan to
ship your product on or before Wednesday, February 14. No action on your part
is required.

Silly Apple. Don't they know that the way to dominate the market is to announce delay after delay and increase anticipation?

Nail Clippers

Know how there is always something you forget on a trip that just annoys the heck out of you until the problem is solved? Whether it's toothpaste, socks or shaving cream, it always seems like there's just one thing that prevents me from having the perfect trip experience. This week, it was nail clippers. Yet, the uniqueness of New York bailed me out.

At events, the way you present yourself is critical - so making sure I didn't have long, dirty or jagged nails when shaking hands and greeting people was actually a pretty big deal. On Monday, it was already bugging the heck out of me, as my subconscious reminded me something was wrong with the world. But on Tuesday, the answer came in a very New York way.

Walking back from breakfast, I stopped at one of the sidewalk vendors who offers a plethora of quick-fix goods, from phone cards to gum and soda. After plunking down $2 or so to get some gum and a roll of Certs, I looked up to see nail clippers hanging from the ceiling. Perfection. For a single buck, I had the answer, and New York had come through again.

I love this city. Yet on Thursday, I head back to the West Coast, leaving the land of instant fulfillment and 27-degree weather behind. But boy, my nails do look good.

January 29, 2007

Tidbits from the Link Blog: January 29, 2007

More in an ocassional series...

Goodnight Silicon Valley... the voice behind "Good Morning Silicon Valley" is moving on to help out the Wall Street Journal, after more than 7 years of daily postings on the world of tech. In other news, despite the bitter cold here in New York, Athletics Nation kindly reminds us that baseball is coming, as Blez sits down with A's GM Billy Beane.

Athletics Nation: Billy Beane AN Interview January 07 Edition Part I
Good Morning Silicon Valley: GMSV author to "pursue other interests"
Matthew Ingram: Microsoft Still Wants to Control Your Wallet
AppleInsider: Apple revenues could catch Microsoft by 2010

New York Dusted With Light Snow

Late last night, the snow flurries started to come down. Now on the 27th floor of the Sheraton, I could see them outside the window being pushed to and fro by the wind, seemingly going upward as much as toward the ground. Unsurprisingly, very little has stuck. You can see a dusting of snow on the roofs of buildings below, but that's about it. All that's guaranteed is that today is supposed to be cold.

January 28, 2007

Why I Stopped Using IM and Won't Use Twitter

One of the most-recent fads to sweep the Web is that of Twitter, a service where you leave simple, short messages telling people just what it is you are doing right now, whether that's eating breakfast, walking the dog, cramming for an exam or watching television. The idea behind it is instant insight and status sharing, taking blogging up a notch beyond a daily journal, to instead, a minute by minute chronicle of your day. And I'm not in the least bit interested.

When Instant Messaging (IM) first debuted, it was a great way for people to chat one to one between computers, without the slowness of e-mail exchanges or cost of using the phone. When I first saw an instant message from one computer to another, I was floored, and I can tell you exactly where I was, just like I can tell you exactly where I was the first time I heard a computer speak with a human voice, and the first time I saw webcams used. Each time, I recognized just how cool these technologies could be. But with each, they found a niche, not a revolution.

Like everyone else, I first used instant messaging to talk with friends and family, but then it started to spread to casual contacts and colleagues. The intimacy was gone, as people would add buddies to their buddy list to increase their feelings of self-worth. Entire web sites were built with a goal of comparing one person's buddy list length to another. And as in the real world, sometimes you just didn't want to let some of those people on the buddy list know you were available, leading to annoying conversations started by people who knew just when you logged on and off, and if you were idle or busy. Then came the need to hide yourself from individuals who kept you on their buddy list, even as you had deleted them from yours.

The actual benefits of instant messaging quickly went away for me. Conversations that should have taken place in 3-5 minutes on the phone would now take 15-20 minutes, 5 of which would be awkwardly used trying to get the conversation to a close, waiting for direct responses to questions, and making sure you weren't both typing at once. And the idea that instant messages would aid you in collaboration at work were a bunch of hooey. Anybody I know at the office using IM is using it to talk to a spouse or friend, or, if with another colleague, to complain about the boss or another co-worker. The actual productivity of IM is a significant negative.

I uninstalled my AOL and Yahoo! instant messenger clients from my work computer and laptop a long time ago. At home, I still have iChat, built into the Apple operating system, and have Proteus tucked away for that rare time I think of a reason to use it - but I intentionally told my Mac not to turn on instant messaging services on login, so nobody could bug me.

It's real simple. What is said over IM is very rarely business, and prevents people from getting work done. It's a significant time-waster, and a technology whose time has come and gone. The idea that I would take it up a notch and tell Twitter my every step is yet another task that would get in the way of my actually working, so we're not interested.

My Cousin, Kenneth, a Hero, Serving in Iraq

At times, we can get lost in the numbers and strategy over the US conflict in Iraq, and forget that regardless of our political leanings, or whether we think we are on the right path, thousands and thousands of some of the bravest men and women are serving our country, helping others, protecting others and risking themselves. My cousin, Lieutenant Kenneth Curtis, is one of those heroes on the front, who has put his life on the line.

My mother's younger sister, Kathy, started having a family before I was born, introducing three boys into the world in the mid 1970s. Ken, the oldest, has always held a strong sense of duty and was excited about the military from a very young age. While some of us set off on paths that led us to a career behind a desk, Ken kept himself in excellent shape and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. This past November, Ken was asked to join with his fellow enlisted men to serve in Iraq, having completed other missions around the world. Though he told us not to worry about him, of course, we always do. Every day when we see the death toll mount, and wonder if there will be an end to the conflict, his is the face that comes in my mind.

The Curtis family has already suffered through tragedy. Of the three boys I told you about, two are already gone, leaving this world prematurely. Both succumbed to the lure and power of drugs, with Lyman passing away in 1996, and the second, Michael, in 2003. I served as a pallbearer for both, and gave the eulogy for Michael, feeling wholly undeserving to wrap up his life in a few short minutes. That Ken, the only son left in addition to the family's youngest, a daughter, is knowingly at risk in what has been an incredibly difficult war tears at us all.

This weekend, we received an update from the front, as they are called, posted to my mother's blog, Web Robin. Ken is doing well, my aunt Kathy reports. A picture shows him in excellent shape, yet alone, as he tries to catch a nap between missions consisting of 12 and 14-hour shifts.

Ken, in Iraq, during some rare down time

Doing what I do, where I do it, in the safety of Northern California, with the occasional trip around the country, makes me feel disconnected from what our men and women are doing thousands of miles away. If I were asked to serve, I don't know that I would be ready. I don't know if I could separate my anger over how we got into this mess, and the politics, to do what the country asked of me. But, despite the challenges, Ken has said yes.

Another man I know and respect, whom I met at church, has also taken up the challenge. He is enlisting, knowing the country needs more help, in Iraq, and he eagerly awaits a call to serve. The images and stories that strike sadness, fury and frustration to most of us are filling him with a need to do his part and help, and no matter of pleading and counsel from me would get him to change his mind.

It is people like this who bring the war home and make it a reality. That my cousin is on the front line, risking everything, makes it ever more important that the reasons behind him being there be just, and that he be treated with the utmost manner of truth and respect that he has earned. As a family, we will absolutely worry about him, and keep fervent hope for him until we know he has come home in safety. It is our hope that those who perpetuate the wars and govern over the lives of these men do so justly. For the Curtis family, they cannot afford yet another time of sorrow.

Tidbits from the Link Blog: January 28, 2007

More in an occasional series...

Saturdays in the blogosphere can sometimes be the most interesting of all. In the absence of hard news and press releases, it is a time for introspection, and sometimes, what they find isn't all that pretty. PodTech's Robert Scoble set off a little firestorm yesterday in saying that many of the top blogs don't link, particularly due to a lack of traction he found from a story he filed around Intel's new microprocessor fabrication processes.

After he lashed out against some of the top blogs, they responded and much of his angst was redacted. While he may have gone a little too far, or more likely, just chosen the wrong targets, he is discovering some of the tenets of PR away from representing a big corporation - not every target you think should cover you does. Jason Calicanis and Ryan Block chime in below.

Jason Calicanis: Scoble loses it... and gets it back.
Ryan Block: On linking, editorial
Robert Scoble: Pissing off the blogosphere…

In other news, baseball's opening day is approaching, and we can't wait. Unfortunately, as I'm in New York, I had to give away my 2007 A's fanfest tickets, but lucky for me, others from Athletics Nation went and took pictures.

Athletics Nation: gotgreen's day at FANFEST (with pictures, of course!)

To see what I'm finding interesting, bookmark or subscribe to my link blog.

January 27, 2007

Life In the Big City: New York, New York

Though no surprise to you or me, my travels to New York went fine.

I was able to upgrade my seat on the Los Angeles to New York leg of the trip to business class and that was much preferred over United's "Economy Plus" option. Despite the fact my chair was just a tad broken, and there were no power ports anywhere to be found, it was alright. I plan to follow up on that in a different post in the near future to be sure. Regardless of whether I flew in coach or cargo, we made it.

The weather here in New York is pretty good. It's in the mid-30's and actually feels good, so long as you keep moving. I'm staying only a few blocks from Broadway, meaning a short stroll will get me to some of the best-known sites in the city, from Radio City Music Hall to NBC Studios and the Time-Life Building. As I've now been here three times in the last two-plus years, always staying in this two-block radius, I'm pretty comfortable with it, feeling I can walk in any direction and make it back with no trouble.

Though I'm still on Pacific Time, I knew I should grab food before it got too late. Though New York is billed as a city that doesn't sleep, I wanted to make sure enough things were open, and headed out, finding Famous Famiglia Pizza on Broadway. It was outstanding. New York pizza is great to begin with, but I honestly felt I could eat there every day and not get bored. Great stuff.

I also ducked into the Virgin Mega Store on Broadway, like I do each time I come here, and headed to the Dance & Electronica music section. Like every other time I've been here, I get very tempted, and buy nothing. It's better for my budget to just window shop, but the energy in there is tremendous.

Despite my concerns over New York's weather, on the first evening here, I have no complaints. Weather forecasts expect the temperature to drop into the 20s, with potential flurries over the next few days. If that happens, I'll let you know.

What is the True Value of an Entertainment Download?

Hollywood and the big media music and television moguls are struggling to determine how to price their entertainment offerings in a new technology landscape. As consumers, we have more flexibility than ever to obtain music, TV or video from more sources than ever, including TiVo, NetFlix, iTunes, YouTube and other less legal methods. As such, we have the power to realign our expectations for what we are willing to pay, rather than sitting as victims to what are often monopoly-seeking businesspeople.

Approximately four years ago, the music industry was being eaten alive by illegal peer to peer music file sharing. In April of 2003, Apple introduced the iTunes Music Store, and established a legal way for customers to download music, inexpensively, setting a pricing model of 99 cents per track, and typically, $9.99 per album, pricepoints which closely mirror those by nearly all other online music labels to date. While these prices were less expensive than one would expect to pay in a music retail store like Sam Goody or Tower Records, it was, for the music industry, a much-appreciated alternative to free, and the record labels had a new partner who encouraged customers to not steal music. Now, Apple has successfully sold more than 2 billion tracks, and appearing on iTunes is a must for artists - established or otherwise.

Later, Apple added the ability to sell television shows through the store, establishing a price of $1.99 per episode. Season passes, downloading every copy of the show for a full season, ranged much higher, sometimes on the order of $30 or $40. While only ABC had joined on initially, other networks followed suit, meaning I can now download current or back episodes for everything from South Park to Fox's 24, or Law and Order.

Now, this introduction was truly a new wrinkle. Consumers with TiVos or even a simple VCR have had the ability to record shows without charge since the advent of those technologies - and most still watch the shows as they are aired, commercials and all. Now, Apple and the networks are trying to establish the value of a television show where free was the original price, clearly harder to do. If I instead have the option to set up a season pass for a show on TiVo, I can do that for free, and skip iTunes, saving me money.

Meanwhile, back in the analog world, watching a feature film in a theater can cost anywhere from $7 to $10 and up per ticket, depending on where you live, what time you go, and how long the film has been in theaters. Whether the movie is 80 minutes, like Borat, or a 3-hour Titanic or Dances With Wolves marathon, the price is the same, so you're not paying by the minute, or for the actors' time. Instead, you're paying to cover the actors' contracts and the film's marketing costs. Outside of the Internet, the price to attend movies in a theater has remained fairly inelastic over time, increasing only with inflation. As a result, consumers don't often shop around to choose the theater with the best price, instead going with the theater that offers the closest location, or is showing the movie you'd like to see at a time you'd like to see it.

And this leads us back to the iTunes store. In 2006, Apple added feature films like Pirates of the Carribean and Cars, to their media library. Again, they've tried to implement standard pricing, from $9.99 for established films to $14.99 for new releases. Now, instead of the $7-10 or more per ticket to see the film in a theater, you have the option to buy the film to own, to watch on your laptop, in most cases, and soon, with Apple TV, you can project it to the flat-screen, effectively bringing the movie experience to your home.

All that said, music and TV shows and films are very different beasts. A music track you purchase from iTunes can be played again and again, as people don't tire of music as rapidly as they do visual media. Some of my most frequently listened-to tracks have been heard a few dozen times each, and others, much less. Television shows are typically watched a single time, and then deleted (from TiVo or your computer). If it's a rerun, the value of the show has greatly diminished. Meanwhile, feature films are almost strictly a once and done affair - unless you have the feeling of guilt for purchasing something and watch it again to justify the cost. it takes a rare feature film to get me to see it in the theater more than once, and DVDs I've received as gifts often make their way back into the dusty bin of our entertainment center. This once and done mentality is why our society gravitates toward renting DVDs from NetFlix and BlockBuster instead of buying them, and why feature films eventually leave theaters altogether - no matter how good the film. The audience that saw them once probably isn't coming back.

Looking back at iTunes, this means that while downloaded songs are the cheapest commodity, they are also the most-often enjoyed, while the higher you go up the price charts, to richer media, the fewer times you are going to typically enjoy the purchase. While you could make the argument that an iTunes song is shorter in minutes than a TV show or a movie, and you would be right, the value you receive from each download is greater. If my favorite song is 6 minutes long, and I've listened to it 20 times, I've received a perceived 120 minutes of value from it for 99 cents. In comparison, a downloaded CSI episode for $1.99 only would 40 or so minutes, without commercials, and costs twice as much. I would have to watch it more than four times to receive the equivalent minutes of enjoyment per dollar spent. And even if you move the spot on the graph to say I only listened to that iTunes track 10 times, for sixty minutes of entertainment at $.99, I would still need to see Gil Grissom examine the corpse three or more times before I've reached a similar return on investment, for my $1.99.

So while I can gain 120 minutes of entertainment from a single iTunes track, heard 20 times, those same 120 minutes of entertainment, in the form of a feature film, will cost you at least $9.99. Additionally, a lot of movies are getting shorter and shorter. The aforementioned Borat would be almost halfway through its second showing by the time you reached the two hour mark.

This tells me that the market for paid movie downloads will remain much smaller than that for music, unless costs decrease. Consumers will almost always select the cheapest way to a goal. If the perceived value of a TV show or a movie is not significantly more than that of a song, consumers will shy away from the significantly higher prices needed to buy films and TV online, even if the entertainment media moguls try to convince us that the actual value is higher. This will drive consumers to illegally download entire films for free rather than pay iTunes or other services, until the disconnect between actual and perceived values is closed. While there are free legal alternatives for television shows (via basic TV), and music has decreased in price such that the draw for peer to peer networks has lessened, it is my feeling that the price of feature films has not come down significantly enough to encourage today's consumers to purchase them with the frequency they do music. It's not just a matter of consumers needing highest speed broadband to get the files. It's return on investment.

Tidbits from the Link Blog: Jan. 27, 2007

With all the recent issues with RapidWeaver, it just hasn't been fun to post the link-filled "Morning Notes" as I had been in the first half of 2006. Now that we've changed platforms to Blogger, I hope to reinstate a frequent (but not every day) feature that highlights items around the Web I've found interesting.

Of those below, I found the article by Steve Rubel on CNET's moves to better blend journalists with bloggers the most interesting. Interacting with media on a daily basis, and with my dabbling in journalism through college, makes me very curious to see how media companies are approaching the advent of new technology and community participation. I expect that not all journalists, even at a technology-focused site like CNET, will be eager to share the stage with their readers.

Don Dodge: Yahoo CPM versus Google PPC
Official Google Blog: Controlling how search engines access and index your website
Steve Rubel: CNET Requires That Journalists Respond to Blog Comments
Slashdot: US Pennies To Be Worth Five Cents?
Google Operating System: Google Tries to Make Googlebombs Ineffective
GigaOM: Quarterly weakness for Microsoft

To see what I'm finding interesting, bookmark or subscribe to my link blog.

January 26, 2007

Soon Off to the Frozen Big Apple

Early Saturday morning, I'll be catching a flight to New York to participate in a trade show for work, and will be there through this upcoming Thursday. Unlike most of the tradeshows I attend, I'll also be taking on the role of tradeshow coordinator, subbing in, meaning I get to work with the union folks to put up and take down the booth, install and uninstall equipment, as well as meeting and greeting potential clients.

With that said, I'm not exactly excited about this trip, given the frigid weather in the Northeast of the country this time of year. My WeatherPop has been taunting me by saying New York City is in the 20-degree range now, and expects sleet on Sunday. While we here in California have been whining about 40-50 degree weather the last few months, 20 degrees and sleet are just unheard of. Hopefully, I can stay indoors, somewhere warm, and with high-speed Internet. If I don't get that necessary luxury, you will be sure to hear about it.

Borat Movie Is Completely Nutty

It's a good thing we didn't spend the $10 apiece or so to go out and see Borat in the theater. It would not have been cash well spent. Though funny and incredibly ludicrous throughout, Borat served to better expose the ignorant American underbelly we'd rather not be reminded of than it did to deliver a quality film. Silly to be sure, but stupid.

In his guise as a visitor from Kazakhstan, Borat manages to make normal red-blooded Americans look even more foolish and backward than he does, even in his incredible get-up. He exposes Southern frat boys as racist, gets a rodeo chairman to talk on camera about his belief that every mustachioed Muslim is a potential terrorist, and attends a Pentecostal sermon that would boggle the mind, all while chasing after Pamela Anderson Lee across the country.

That the country was abuzz over the movie for months is a sad commentary on the society. That people paid full ticket value for what amounted to be an hour twenty minute comedy may be even worse. And some of the images from the film aren't exactly ones I want to see again. Funny, but stupid.

January 25, 2007

Valentines Day? But Our Christmas Cards Are Still Up...

It hit me while driving home last night. While trying to find a radio station to listen to, I heard the familiar voice of Tom Shane from the Shane Company, offering me a new friend in the diamonds, rubies and sapphire business. His commercial asked me if I knew just what gem I should get for my wife or girlfriend (or both). And I thought immediately... Valentine's Day? Already?

I could swear we just got done with Christmas and then New Year's. We just started back at work after a week off... or so it feels. But glancing at the calendar tells me an entire month has gone by since Christmas, and that it won't be too long until we're a mere two weeks away from candy hearts and valentines. And right now, that doesn't feel very romantic. That sounds like an obligation. One I'm incapable of negotiating with my wife (or girlfriend) to see if we can skip it this time around.

In fact, our Christmas Cards are still up around our fireplace. We have plenty of chocolate at home strewn around the kitchen from various vendors. So we're not ready. I lobby instead that we move the date to give us more time to prepare. It's not that I don't care, it's just that I don't care... yet.

AppleTV Could Outshine iPhone for Apple

Lost in all the hoopla around Apple's introduction of the iPhone, followed by the subsequent trademark suit from Cisco Systems over Apple's ability to use the name was the second significant announcement that day - that of AppleTV, a set-top box that acts as a conduit between your iTunes media library and your flat-screen television. While the iPhone remains unavailable for purchase at least through June 2007, AppleTV is available for order, and should ship at the end of February. In fact, early reports show AppleTV as the #1 selling product at Apple's online store, ahead of even the iPod, and now, recent news says that the product's success has outstripped even Apple's lofty expectations.

According to a new entrant to the Apple rumor scene, Apple Recon, Apple has recently increased their initial 100,000 unit order to to triple that number. The author says part of the reason AppleTV has been so successful is the price - coming in at approximately 25% that of Windows Media Center devices. He's got a point. After all, using proceeds from the Apple stock I sold during Steve Jobs' keynote, I purchased both AppleTV and the new Airport Extreme. Given the low prices for both devices, it was almost on par with an impulse buy. I'm hoping that despite the influx of demand, my AppleTV will arrive on time and without delay. We can't wait to start messing with it.

January 24, 2007

Silly YouTube - Where's The Redundancy?

For a company that was worth more than $1.6 billion as a Google acquisition, you would think they'd have learned how to make seamless changes without bringing down the entire site, but YouTube seems to instead love showing new error images.

Previous Story: Web 2.0 Companies Play With Error Messages

I hate to be suspicious, but this may or may not have to do with Fox's recent suit for YouTube to take down copyrighted episodes of 24 and The Simpsons. Of course, those who really want the shows can get them elsewhere online for free.

Update: Google's blog says YouTube and Google Video were integrated last night:
Starting today, YouTube video results will appear in the Google Video search index: when you click on YouTube thumbnails, you will be taken to YouTube.com to experience the videos. Over time, Google Video will become even more comprehensive as it evolves into a service where you can search for the world's online video content, irrespective of where it may be hosted.

As A's Foundation is Chipped, Do We Remain Whole?

Cross-posted at Athletics Nation...

As Oakland A's fans, we've grown accustomed to change. For us to assume we could pull a Rip Van Winkle and immediately fell asleep at the conclusion of one season, only to arise on Opening Day, and expect to see the same roster in both games, would be beyond naive. Despite this, into my twentieth year as an A's fan, I am still struck by the amount of turnover we see on an annual basis, and how as fans, we accept it and hold onto those familiar faces left behind who represent hope for the green and gold.

Yesterday, we saw Kirk Saarloos shipped out of town, in exchange for a prospect and more hope. Most of us saw Saarloos as a nice to have, flexible commodity who could both start and come out of the bullpen, but none of us really saw having him on the roster as defining the team, or see that his leaving marks the death-knell of the 2007 season. Simply put, we can take it. We trust the team's ownership has a plan.

Beyond the loss of Los Kirk, one must take only a superficial glance at last year's Oakland A's statistical leaderboard to recognize how a few winter months can change a team. The A's best hitter by average, hits and doubles (Jay Payton at .296 with 165 hits, 32 doubles) is now playing in Baltimore. The A's best slugger by home runs and RBIs (Frank Thomas) is now playing in Toronto. On the mound, the A's also lost fan favorite Barry Zito, who led in ERA and was tied for the lead in wins with Joe Blanton at 16. That guy is pitching you know where at you know what park for you know which team. Meanwhile, off the field, the team lost their manager and third base coach, and announced intentions to move out of Oakland.

What an uneventful few months? No?

Yet, we persevere. To me, this largely stems from the knowledge that we have seen such change, and we will see it again. We were dealt body blows when we saw Hudson and Mulder leave only days apart. When I was much younger, I was shocked that the team dealt Canseco in mid-game. I've fought reality and hoped the team could keep others, like McGwire, Giambi and Tejada, largely in vain. And when those changes happen, we grumble, and move on, bruised but not beaten.

All that has me thinking - how would I react if the A's next press release said that Blanton was on his way out of town? Would I be okay with that? What if instead of Blanton, it was Haren? Or Harden? What if instead, we saw Eric Chavez or Nick Swisher shipped out of town? What if it was all of them? Would I still believe in the plan? Have the A's got us fooled by making incremental changes regularly so we don't see the full scope? I have a feeling that we haven't seen the end of the changes in this off-season. I don't think that taking on Piazza and Durazo and Embree is the master plan.

The question is, are you ready for what might be the next shoe to drop, and what player's leaving would just tear you up?

On the other hand, at least we didn't get Darin Erstad...

Stats Corner Shows How to Win 80% of Games

Recent Stats Corner Features:

Playing the role of sports stats geek for Sactown Royalty this NBA season has been a lot of fun, as it lets me combine my inner nerddom with my fanatacism for sports. Over the months, as we Kings fans have lamented the team's various issues, we can see trends. Oddly enough, by keeping a running database game by game, we're finding our hunches are often correct. Tonight, we exposed an unknown fact - that the Kings win more than 4 of every 5 games in which they make more 3-point baskets than their opponent. Yet, when they don't win that single stat, they tend to lose more often - to the tune of 6 out of 7 times.

It's rare a stat like this will show such a disparity in wins and losses. But don't believe me. Talk to Stats Corner. (Or Download the Database)

I Stayed Up How Late to Get This Done?

It took the better part of 2-3 months to migrate all 643 posts from RapidWeaver to Google's Blogger engine, but once I saw the end in sight tonight, it didn't really matter how late I had to stay up, or how much other work I needed to be doing - so after hundreds of "Command C, Command V" routines, I am happy to report that the migration is complete.

As a result of the move, the new site look and feel should have been imported, with a very familiar side bar. The old RSS feed should also be working and load from the same URL.

Comments from the last year are no longer tied to their equivalent posts. You can see them as running in parallel, as the original site is still hard coded to its original URLs. New comments to all posts will stick on the new engine. We will also be watching Feedblitz closely to see if that process is working well, though I expect we will learn that on Thursday morning.

With it being nearly 2 a.m. now, I can rest peacefully, knowing that this big undertaking, for now, is over. Find bugs? Let me know.

January 23, 2007

The Migration to Google Blogger? Ongoing...

We've been posting regularly to the blog on louisgray.com for just over a year now, using Real Mac Software's RapidWeaver engine. As recounted a few times here, the application worked great initially, but has slogged down, no thanks to my frequent writing. After investigating a number of solutions, we finally settled on Google's Blogger engine, which will enable us to match a similar look and feel to what readers have grown accustomed, will enable Web-based posting at any time from any computer, and should handle the migration of RSS feeds without too many issues.

See: RapidWeaver Application Just Isn't Scaling and Slowly Migrating to Web-based Blogger Engine

Yet, RapidWeaver continues to be my undoing. The application does not offer the ability to export to a standard format recognized by Google's Blogger or Six Apart's TypePad or WordPress. We looked everywhere. As a result, over the last few months, while maintaining the site here, we've been playing the copy/paste game of the more than 600 posts, including recreation of thousands and thousands of URL hyperlinks, to catch the Blogger site up to date. Every time we catch an archived movie on TiVo, we're copying and pasting, and adding the URL tags... over and over and over. It's enough to give me carpal tunnel - not that it's actually happened yet.

Starting with January 9, 2006, when the site debuted, we've migrated all posts through October 26, 2006, meaning we're "only" about three months behind. Once we close the gap, you'll know it, and I'll be very pleased. I won't be stuck in a proprietary application engine that stalls out my computer every time I post. I won't have to sit on stories while at the office as much. And as Google believes in standards in a big way, I can import/export out of Blogger if I ever get sick of them as well. It's sure to happen some day.

So, hang tight, and understand that we're working on moving us forward. To watch the new site's progress, or just to relive the old posts as if they were new again, go to the test site.

One Senator Blogs State of the Union Response

As the most-popular Web logs gain readership approximating those of bigger, more-established media, it is no surprise that those who have a message to sell are heading directly to their audience - whether that be companies aiming to sell a product, or politicians and advocates aiming to sell a point of view.

Following today's presidential state of the union address, Democratic Illinois senator Dick Durbin, the majority whip for the Senate, headed not to the TV cameras and radio waves to make his case, but instead to Daily Kos, where he took questions and offered answers to the site's visitors.

Though it's not the first time a politician has recognized the immense traffic and power that Daily Kos holds for the progressive movement in the Democratic Party, it's exactly this type of behavior that gets me excited about the potential of blogs. Through this medium, visitors around the world were able to post questions and have a dialog with an elected politician immediately after a news event, something unprecedented only 10 or so years ago. And I respect Senator Durbin's willingness to take a risk, entering unknown territory without a script to offer frank insight on everything from increasing troop levels in Iraq, how to best offer solutions for health care and spiraling higher education costs, and on how he feels the current administration has responded to suffering still being felt by citizens of New Orleans.

This is the real deal. I give Senator Durbin a lot more credit for this than some of the more polished politicians who think slapping a quasi-commercial on YouTube is the new way to be hip to a younger, more connected generation.

January 22, 2007

Blog Tools Update: New Dashboard Widget

Using Apple's new Dashboard beta code, we recently revamped our louisgray.com site Dashboard widget, which is immediately available for download. The widget, powered by our RSS feed, updates regularly and features the full text of the Web site in a handy format.

A Screenshot of the Widget In Action

If you are using Mac OS X, download the widget now, and unzip the compressed file.

And for all users, don't forget to sign up to the RSS feed, or receive site updates by e-mail.

Monday Contributions to SportsBlogs Nation

Today was one of the few days where I had the privilege to post on the front page of both Athletics Nation and Sactown Royalty. With the well-run SportsBlogs Nation growing rapidly, more fans are turning to the network to find the latest in sports news and opinion, at the expense of more established brands, like ESPN and CBS Sportsline.  We have been lucky to find a role with more than one of the sites, supporting the Oakland A's and Sacramento Kings.

With the A's recent news the team would be moving to Fremont and playing at Cisco Field, we took a look on Athletics Nation at how often technology expectations get ahead of reality. As in decades past, it was assumed we would be surrounded by flying cars and teleportation, fans should remember many of the game's tenets are unchanged. (Full story: At Cisco Field, Don't Expect Flying Cars)

Meanwhile, as the A's enjoy vacation, the Kings are themselves acting like they've taken days off, even when they are expected to play. They've taken a downward spiral to the bottom of the Pacific Division, and recently got thumped by the Detroit Pistons, 91-74, in arguably the worst game they played all year. That's how I saw it anyway. After all, it was the team's lowest scoring contest, and they threatened season lows in shooting percentage, point differential and free throw percentage. Yuck. (Full story: So... the Detroit Game? Worst Ever this Year!)

Listening to ''Feels Like Home'', by Basement Jaxx (Play Count: 4)

January 21, 2007

Don't Blame Me, I'm Rooting for Hillary

Yesterday's announcement that Hillary Clinton is "In it to win", throwing her hat into the 2008 presidential race, wasn't much of a surprise. Hillary has been visibly preparing herself for such a challenge even before her husband Bill left office in January 2001. And while she may not end up being the woman I cast my vote for by the time we get the opportunity, we are happy she's stepped up, and hope she gives it her all.

After six years of George W. Bush and company delivering plenty of shock and none of the awe to Americans everywhere, the country voted emphatically for change in the 2006 mid-term elections, pushing Democrats into congressional power. With Iraq spiraling further into chaos, and the Republican minority scuttling away in scandal and illegalities, that push for  change will hopefully continue. And for once, the Democrats are flush with good candidates with serious name recognition, from John Edwards and Barack Obama to, now, Hillary Clinton. If all those running can remember that their real foe is already sitting in the White House, and not one of the other candidates, the party will have the best chance at success, no matter who emerges the victor.

As mentioned previously here, the more I learn about Hillary's background, the more impressed I am. While she may be the most reviled individual in the history of the conservative right, she has stood her ground and been unafraid to take controversial stances for the good of the country. The prospect of having both her and her husband back in the White House, surrounded by intelligence actors for change, is thrilling - especially when contrasted with what we've sickeningly grown accustomed to.

I'm also pleased that the issue of Hillary being a female candidate might not be the headline issue of a campaign. Hillary's announcement is more than a token to the feminist movement, but one that stands on its own merits. With Obama setting a similar mark on race, rather than gender, both should be interesting proof points to see if America can move beyond its white male Protestant dominated world - one that recently said Republican candidate Mitt Romney was doomed for being Mormon, as approximately half said that alone disqualified his candidacy. It's time for the voters to focus on issues and vote for those they think can move the country forward and out of the pit we've been dug into for six very long years.

Good luck Hillary. We will be eagerly watching and waiting to see if you can convince us that you are the right choice. (More: Daily Kos, The Atlantic)

January 20, 2007

TiVo Unfreezes Cold Mountain

One of the beauties of having a TiVo digital video recorder capable of saving more than 100 hours of video is setting it up to record all sorts of movies, and not feeling any serious demand to watch them right away. In addition to our myriad of season passes which catch us up on new episodes, we often give the TiVo an assignment to record movies at all hours - and it dutifully does so without complaint.

Our series one TiVo has been quietly taking down our orders for the better part of four years. In its library, it is holding on to an August 15th, 2003 showing of The English Patient, which I swear I'll finally see someday. It has a July 2005 Oakland A's baseball game, where the ANtics comics were featured. I play that gem every once in a while, when guests come to the house. And today, we unearthed the film Cold Mountain, which had been in deep storage since September of 2005 itself. For more than a year, it had occupied sectors on TiVo's hard drive, and patiently waited for us to watch it. For some reason, we never found time for Cold Mountain in 2006. Yet, today we did, and the picture was as clear as if we had recorded it this morning.

Barring video on demand, where we could, on impulse, order up any feature we wanted, our practice of storing up films on TiVo is the most-flexible way to ensure we always have entertainment on hand - and we aren't forced to take up physical space with new DVD cases or VHS tapes to do it. Too often we take technology's advances for granted. I for one hope I never stop being impressed.

January 19, 2007

Google Planning Ahead for the Next Web Frontier

One of the reasons I believe companies like Microsoft, AT&T and Time Warner have been relegated to lesser roles on the Internet, while more nimble companies like Google, YouTube, Apple and Six Apart have led the way, is because they are fighting the battles of yesterday, guaranteeing them a lifetime of looking to steal market share away from an established leader, and never quite catching up.

If you look at Microsoft today, they are still trying to get their hands around a serious Web portal and search engine. Meanwhile Google is increasing share. Microsoft is looking to promote its Live.com blogs network, yet MySpace, Six Apart, WordPress and Google's Blogger platform reign in leadership positions. Microsoft launched Zune to go after Apple's iPod, and it doesn't look like it's gaining any market traction.

But this, really, truly, honestly, wasn't aimed to slam Microsoft too much.

Industry pundit Robert Cringely notes that Google is snapping up scads of dark fibre and is establishing massive data centers around the country, anticipating a time when the demand for rich media will outstrip the available bandwidth to the home. When the collective masses may respond with a shrieking cyber bloodbath, Google is seen as having the only real alternative. Whether his guess is 100% accurate or not, it is another proofpoint showing that when the big companies zig, Google is zagging, using the collective brainpower from its hundreds of Ph.D's to lead the way in innovation.

As I commented to Don Dodge on his excellent blog around "The Next Big Thing", we used to blanche when downloading a 4 megabyte Netscape 1.0 browser download. Now we're all too eager to take on 1.3 gigabytes of leaked 24 episodes.

While today we may be on the cutting edge, it won't be too long before the masses are given the tools to similarly demand gigabytes and gigabytes of data to the home almost instantaneously. When that massive demand for services comes, some companies will be ready, and some won't. My bet is that Google and Apple will be there.

Listening to ''01_nu_train'', by Underworld(Play Count: 5)

New TAB Post: Safari Shortcuts a Big Timesaver

For me, one of the undervalued timesavers which I use all day, every day, is Safari's ability to navigate pages simply by hitting Command and a number, to move from sites in my Bookmarks Bar. If you use the Bookmarks Bar to contain your most frequently-accessed sites, in addition to folders, hitting Command-1 will select the leftmost site, Command-2 will hit the second in line, and so on. Now, instead of moving the mouse and clicking on the shortcut, or entering the URL, you can rapidly move through your daily Web surfing.

That's the idea behind my most recent contribution to The Apple Blog, titled Safari Shortcuts a Big Timesaver. Per agreement with them, I will not be cross-posting the piece, but instead, have provided a link. Enjoy.

I Still Get Excited About Silicon Valley

Living in the Silicon Valley definitely has its down sides. While housing prices are out of this world, and traffic or parking issues can definitely get in the way of a good trip or add frustration to an otherwise positive experience, I still feel a rush when I drive past the headquarters of a company I know, see a gaggle of engineers wearing their company badges, or a license plate frame on the car in front of me that tries to extoll the virtues of Google, Linux, or the latest hardware vendor or .com.

In college, before I got the mobility to drive over the Bay Bridge and down the San Francisco Peninsula, Silicon Valley seemed just out of reach, but I would glom on to anything I could find, whether it was news reports from the San Francisco Chronicle, or Web sites that spilled the details on Yahoo! and Netscape, SGI or Lycos. I would visit the Berkeley Public Library to read biographies on Oracle's Larry Ellison and Microsoft's Bill Gates, and on Sunday afternoons would catch the Silicon Valley News on one of the independent cable channels. I was an outsider yearning to be on the inside.

Then, as my senior year started, I made the leap. I got an entry-level job at a Web-focused startup in Burlingame, and they were generous enough to give me a $2,000 signing bonus to help buy my first car. After taxes, I didn't have all that much, but we got a 1991 Ford Escort GT for $2950, and was finally available to move where I wanted, when I wanted. On my commute to the office, I passed through San Francisco and gawked at the tech-focused billboards, some which bore ticker symbols, in a vain attempt to convince commuters to purchase their stock. On the worst days, I marveled at how sometimes the traffic would stall so badly that those in the cars next to me would be reading the newspaper against their steering wheels, or even shaving with an electric razor. Yuck.

But the real excitement came when I passed beyond San Francisco and got to the Peninsula. Passing Burlingame and on to Redwood Shores and Belmont, the Oracle building complex rose like a phoenix from the Valley floor. The sparkling blue towers were breath-taking - not just because of their beauty, but that they represented the gateway to the Silicon Valley, and a serious challenge to Bill Gates and Microsoft. As I drove further south, I saw signs for Sun Microsystems, National Semiconductor, and scads of smaller tech companies - all of whom said they were hiring, and most of whom said they were pre-IPO. When I drove into Mountain View, all I wanted to see was Netscape headquarters. In Cupertino, it was Apple. Redwood City featured the massive Excite @ Home. Even Milpitas had Cisco. When I went to a movie theater, instead of ads for Wrangler Jeans and Chevy trucks, we saw employment ads from Nortel Networks and startups looking to change the world.

Years later, much has changed. The first dot com crash came and went. Companies disappeared. The traffic problems largely went away, only to flare up now and again, as many hoping to cash in on the gold rush got tired and went back home. Companies merged. Some actually managed to grow and enter the public markets. People I knew at one company moved on to another. And another. And another. Some gave up and tried to be consultants. But the aura of the Silicon Valley, the challenge of out-working anybody else in the world, and delivering technology innovations that change the way people live and do business, didn't go away. Devices got smaller. Devices got less expensive and did more. Web speeds got faster. The engineers and I all continued to gain weight. Time kept ticking.

While I've grown more accustomed to being surrounded by Cisco buildings, and don't follow in awe when I learn that somebody works at Apple, or Yahoo! or Google, the allure Silicon Valley once had for me is still there. Where many geographies have tried to duplicate its unique success, they haven't crossed over. While the technologies and the leaders have changed from year to year, and we've seen bits move from kilo to mega, giga, tera and beyond, I will still drive the extra mile or so to catch a glimpse of Yahoo! headquarters or peek at the vibrant colors of eBay. I'll still look at the parking lots of tech companies and see if the high BMW to Honda ratio indicates that they are doing well. The Valley doesn't just inspire because of its history, it inspires because of its future.

January 17, 2007

Apple Smashes Estimates, Sells 21 Million iPods

The story continues to be the same for Apple Inc. Although expectations for the Cupertino computer and digital device company are higher than ever, the company continues to exceed estimates quarter after quarter and year after year. Today, after NASDAQ market close, Apple announced fiscal earnings of $7 billion, with more than $1 billion in profits. In the quarter, Apple increased iPod sales by 50% over the previous year, to 21 million, and 1.6 million Macs, up 28% year over year.

Apple has come an amazingly long way from the mid-90's squalor that had some expecting they simply wouldn't make it. It's even more amazing to realize that this tremendous growth from the company's base products comes in advance of their recently announced iPhone and Apple TV products, which wasn't lost on the company's CEO, Steve Jobs, in today's press release.

"We've just kicked off what is going to be a very strong new product year for Apple by launching Apple TV and the revolutionary iPhone."

Apple's growth looks like it is in no danger of slowing. Through unique innovation and aggressive marketing, Apple has forged a place for itself in the marketplace. Now, it's not just a question of whether the company will survive, or if Apple can sell beyond its installed base, but just how much market share the company can take from Windows. With Vista around the corner, and Leopard offering some cutting-edge features, Apple can make significant traction in the coming year.

As Apple users and Mac afficionados, we look forward to more progress.

Yahoo! Has Fallen and It Can't Get Up

Picking on Yahoo! for its failings is as easy as it once was to pick on Microsoft for its monopoly tactics and shoddy software, or Apple for its scant market share. It's not as if the world needs yet more proof points that Google has won the online search and advertising race, and that Yahoo! has squandered more than one opportunity to get ahead. Yet an increasing amount of news shows that Google is taking more share in all categories at the expense of Yahoo! and Microsoft, despite already having the leader position.

Yesterday, Comscore released its December search rankings for search engines, showing Google with 47.3 percent. Yahoo! eked up to 28.5% and Microsoft fell to 10.5%, down from 11%. Tom Foremski wonders aloud if there is a place for niched, specialized search engines that don't try to do it all. While many are being funded, the truth is that outside of the top two engines, everybody else seems to be losing share, as consumers grow more comfortable and entrenched with Google especially.

The battle over search engine eyes and clicks, and the domination of Google, grows ever more astounding when one learns more about the history of Google and Yahoo!, particularly. Wired Magazine launched an extensive piece on how Yahoo! once had the opportunity to acquire the nascent challenger in the summer of 2002, but simply didn't offer enough dough. As the article points out, this stemmed from the timing of it all. In 2002, as the first Internet bubble had come crashing down, Yahoo! was left a shadow of its once high-flying self, and it just simply couldn't scare up billions to acquire Google. Instead, they settled for second best acquisitions of Inktomi and GoTo (now Overture), and couldn't mash the new products together well enough to take on what's become the far and away market leader.

As much fun as it is to see companies challenge the market front-runners and add more services beyond their core business model, I believe they also need the ability to recognize where they are failing and they need to make the hard decisions to focus on what they do well. I don't use Microsoft search and Yahoo! search because they simply aren't as good, and won't get me the answers I need. Advertisers know the intelligent consumers have made the choice, and that choice is Google.

January 16, 2007

Long Term Investments Are Out of the Question

Of late, I've found my attention span in the stock market is decreasing rapidly. I used to be of the standard "buy and hold" mentality, picking great companies with potentially great stocks. But the seeming inevitability of the buy and hold strategy was that eventually, the stock would go down - sometimes in a big way, thanks to a profit miss or product issue.

The result is that my investment strategy has morphed, first from holding stocks for the better part of a year to instead a few months, down to a month or two at longest, and most recently, it's been unusual for me to even hold a specific stock for even a week. Instead, I've been looking for momentum plays, with specific actions that would temporarily boost a stock or stem a drop. This change in strategy has made it easier to turn money over and better regulate the potential spikes.

By turning into more of a day trader, per se, I don't fall emotionally for stocks, but instead look at them as faceless entities with ticker symbols, whether it's AAPL, GOOG, TIVO, or others. In fact, I even prey on companies that have fallen on hard times to benefit from their eventual rebound. Even a 3 percent jump in a day or two might be enough for me to sell. As a result, I've made more in stock profits in January already than I did in December, and more in December than I did in all of 2006 prior.

I don't know if this is a recent stroke of luck or the result of good planning. But for now, we'll keep trading off CES and MacWorld, and earnings hit or misses. It's working.

Listening to ''Walk Down (KVA Club Mix)'', by Kyau & Albert (Play Count: 2)

January 15, 2007

New 24 Season Explodes Onto Screens Everywhere

I've been good. Even though Kristine and I watched the first four episodes of 24 more than a week ago, we didn't tell anybody what happened. Not only did 24 not officially debut on television until last night, but I am, for some reason, surrounded by coworkers and family members alike who haven't made their way through the previous season - either due to lax TiVo discipline, or an inability to find time to watch the show on DVD. Therefore, I have gone out of my way to be courteous and avoid slipping details of the newest adventures of Jack Bauer - for their safety and mine.

With that said, the cat is pretty much out of the bag now. 24 kicked off the season yesterday on Fox, and people are all talking about CTU's latest attempt to save the world from the evils of terrorism. Even the Drudge Report was abuzz about 24's possibly setting off a nuclear weapon on American soil. Drudge, in his typical flair, quoted one anonymous Fox executive as saying it was "Time to wake the country up!" and keep them riveted to the screen - hoping that once again, the good guys prevail.

Our early access to 24 paid dividends over the weekend. My parents had somehow made an alternative show hold a higher TiVo season pass, and 24's debut was nowhere to be found. We scrambled to push the new episodes to my mother's big screen Apple Cinema Display, where we then proceeded to watch all four shows until after 2 in the morning. Today, around breakfast, she said the improvised slumber party was well worth it. Had I not had the 24 episodes on the iPod, they would be forced to find somebody else with true TiVo expertise to get them their Jack Bauer fix.

If you haven't yet made 24 a must see in your TV watching itinerary, it's time. This season looks to be better than ever.

Listening to ''floatation'', by Ulrich Schnauss (Play Count: 1)

Saturday's Kings Game: One to Remember (and Forget)

Though I'm an avid Sacramento Kings fan, I haven't had the opportunity to see the team play in person at Arco Arena for the better part of four to five years. With our planned visit to Sacramento to see my parents this weekend, we quickly scrambled to see if we could gain tickets for the Kings game against the Houston Rockets Saturday night. The game was, of course, sold out, but we were able to find a high-priced alternative on StubHub, which gained us four box seat tickets on the first level, unimpeded by other fans. As a result, the four of us, consisting of Kristine, my parents, and me, saw the Kings put on one of the better shows in recent memory, as they battled a superior Rockets team for four quarters, before fading in overtime, on the way to their fifth straight loss.

Despite the game's outcome, we had a fantastic time, as you could likely tell by the game recap I posted to Sactown Royalty near midnight Saturday.

The game was close for almost the entire contest. Two of the Kings players went for more than 30, and though the team was down by five with seconds left in regulation, Ron Artest somehow banked in a last gasp three-pointer to tie it up and send it to an additional period, making all the fans in Arco who were on their way to the parking lot turn right back around and hope for the improbable. But it wasn't to be. The Rockets proved to be too much for the Kings, who have let us down time and again this season, on their way to mediocrity.

I had hoped that by our making the investment in the team and bringing the family, that our support would be rewarded. While the game was a delight with high-paced shooting with an upbeat tempo, offering an entertaining experience, the final score had us wanting more. My hope is that the next time I go to Arco, I spend less money and we can walk away with a win.

Listening to ''staub'', by Ulrich Schnauss (Play Count: 1)

Al Gore Again Denies 2008 Presidential Bid

It is mind-boggling to think how different this nation and world would be had a few hundred votes for Pat Buchanan or Ralph Nader down in Florida have gone Al Gore's way in 2000. While it's a little like crying over spilled milk, his political star continues to rise, even as Bush and his administration are finding new ways to embarrass the United States and the Republican Party. Now, following the Democrats' pummeling of the GOP in the mid-term elections last November, all eyes have moved forward to the next big election, for president, and candidates are already lining up on both sides.

Unfortunately, it looks as if Al Gore really, truly, won't put his hat in the ring again. Content to fight his own campaign against global warming on a worldwide basis, he told reporters again today that he is out, officially. This leaves the already crowded Democrat party field with one less star, and potentially, a little less infighting before the general election.

Given how the last 6-plus years have lowered our expectations for what the US presidency represents, every candidate seems better than what we have now. While I think Barack Obama lacks experience, this may be to his benefit, as he's not beholden to a raft of questionable past votes. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton are very interesting candidates with strong principles and momentum. But this race could have been Al Gore's to take. While they fight it out in the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire, he will remain above the fray. (More: Daily Kos)

Listening to ''a lie for breakfast'', by Ulrich Schnauss (Play Count: 2)

And... We're Back

What - you thought I joined the long list of blogs that are abandoned every day? You wish.

We took Monday off from work, making this an unofficial three day weekend, blog free. Kristine and I visited my family in Sacramento, seeing a Sacramento Kings game, visiting the state capitol, seeing where my parents work at their relatively new jobs, and playing lots of cards, with them, my aunts and Nana. I'm happy to report that I won most of the card games, and less pleased to report that the Kings lost their game on Saturday, with us in attendance. More soon.

Listening to ''a million miles away'', by Ulrich Schnauss (Play Count: 1)

January 10, 2007

Week of CES and Macworld Sends RSS Flood

Today, the steady trickle of Google Reader went off like a flash flood. Starting Sunday, with the beginning of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES) and culminating in today's big Apple news at MacWorld, with the debut of the AppleTV and the potentially revolutionary iPhone, all the tech news sites and blogs you could shake a feed at were publishing in overdrive.

Google Reader activity: January 9, 2007

Today's activity set a new record - with more than 740 items being generated from the 80 or so feeds I've automatically selected to watch. Seemingly half of them were dedicated to tracking Steve Jobs' every move. Not that I can complain. When I get the chance, I'll finally sit down with my PowerBook, plug in the iPod earphones and watch the 2-hour keynote myself. It's practically a tradition. But reading an RSS item every minute for 12 hours? I'm hoping it's a one-time spike, not something I need to get used to.

As usual, don't forget to see what I've shared on My Link Blog.

Listening to ''Come To Me (Club Mix)'', by Sasha (Play Count: 3)

Apple Stock Pays for AppleTV, New Airport Extreme

There's nothing more assured from a MacWorld Expo keynote than AAPL stock volatility. We took the bet last week that the rumors around Apple were true - that Steve Jobs could surprise us all and set the stock higher. We also bet that ahead of CES, TiVo, still undervalued, would pull of some tricks to elicit interest in their stock. So we overweighted the portfolio in a big way.

Thank goodness we were right. We're not wealthy by any means, but we cleared about $2k from 5 days of trades in the two, and that was more than enough to treat ourselves to the new $299 AppleTV and new Airport Extreme wireless base station, sporting 802.11n connectivity. The AppleTV will be a welcome addition to our new setup, including new DVD players and plasma screen, as we catch up with Silicon Valley expectations. The new Airport should get our wireless a bit more regular, faster and reach further. And as far as I'm concerned, they were free, and we have more than $1,500 in profits left over, to point somewhere else.

Listening to ''It's My Turn'', by Pete Tong (Play Count: 3)