Google Checkout works most of the time…

This quote from Google’s PR person in response to criticisms about Checkout not working is probably not the best way to respond to critics. When it comes to a financial system, working most of the time is not good enough and Google should know that. BTW, my wife did use it to buy something online (and didn’t experience any problems) but when I asked her about it she said “well yeah, they gave me a $30 discount to use Google Checkout so of course I used it”. Google obviously sees value in buying marketshare but I am left wondering about retention when the only thing a recent user can say about it is that they gave her a big discount to use it.

MercuryNews.com | 11/28/2006 | Google Checkout rings up gripes:

“There are thousands of merchants who are not having any problems,” responded Megan Lamb, a Google spokeswoman.

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Off to Ireland for a couple of days

I’m outbound to Ireland today to speak at the IT@Cork event, my topic is pricing trends. I am looking forward to meeting Tom Raftery in person, having up until know just talked via email or phone with him.

That I am speaking on pricing trends is somewhat interesting if for no other reason than this is not something I have been called on to talk about at a conference. I’m excited because the timing is great, we are going through a series of exercises on pricing for Teqlo and this has made me more committed than ever in the SaaS delivery model. I say that not because of the usual reason thrown around but because SaaS offers a software publisher a great range of options to build a revenue model with, and none of them are mutually exclusive of the other meaning there are a great many ways to make money versus the old “license and maintenance” days, which to give credit to was never that simple to begin with.

I’ll post my presentation online as soon as I write it… thank god for 11 hour flights! :)

I’m done with Digg

Digg really is an innovative site but I’m finished with it. They didn’t let me down, or change the terms of service, or suffer outages, or lose users,… Digg just isn’t doing anything for me to make my day easier. I’m finding this with a number of “Web 2.0″ sites, after the initial enthusiasm wears dull I’m left with a big “so what” feeling that I can’t escape.

I met Kevin Rose once on a panel we both spoke on, I was impressed by his ability to say something really interesting as a matter-of-fact and for his humility over the success he was enjoying. Also, for what it’s worth, he seemed to grasp the social significance of the technology he created (for $12k mind you), but while I can appreciate and admire that I am still left with the “so what” feeling.

Sites like Digg were at one time promised (not by Kevin but rather by commentators on “the street”) to be rich information stores that could be mined and presented in many different ways through the efforts of a cottage industry that would spring up in response to the opportunity. Just like RSS readers condensed the process of reading the daily news, in their case feeds, into a single point of contact process, Digg and Techmeme (which I still very much like btw), among others, would offer new ways to discover information relevant to me. Today I realized that far too much crap, which I admit is a subjective measure, is being posted on Digg and I’m just not getting anything out of it anymore. Basically, when the front page features a good number of youtube videos you pretty much have to admit that it’s easier just to go to youtube…

In all fairness there are a number of very interesting utilities that have been created for digg, some from Digg Labs and others from the “community” but most of them really are just gadgets to make it easier to 1) use Digg, 2) game Digg, 3) put bright shiny things on Digg.

Maybe when applications develop that tie Digg with other information streams and have a realtime ability to collect and display as I’m working in other apps, or give me news based on things it infers I’m interested in, then I’ll be back.

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Stanford plans huge hospital expansion

It’s about time… Stanford, for all their well earned praise in medical research and treatment capability, has one seriously crappy hospital. We went there for our first child and it was disappointing, the only thing you really wanted was to get out as quickly as possible. Our second child was born at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City and that is a palace compared to Stanford Hospital. The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital is another story altogether, but that’s pretty new compared to the main hospital at 15 years old. Of course, it will be a long time before anyone sees a new hospital at Stanford given the hostility that the Santa Clara County planning department and the City of Palo Alto have to the university’s construction plans whenever they come up. I think Palo Alto would prefer that Stanford raze every building on their massive property minus the Hoover Tower, opting instead for hiking trails open only to PA residents. They would probably like to keep the shopping mall as well given the sales tax revenues it generates.

MercuryNews.com | 11/20/2006 | Stanford plans huge hospital expansion:

Stanford wants to rebuild most of its hospital rooms as examples of what industry experts call the new standard for health care: all private rooms, large enough for a comfy couch for family visitors and equipped with technology that will reduce trips down the hall or to the lab. The new approach aims to drastically reduce hospital-born infections.

Windows is 21 years old

Windows is 21 years old, jeez I feel old now… I remember that my PC-AT wouldn’t run Windows 1.0 well because I didn’t have enough memory, but nothing ran Windows very well leading to the joke:

Q: how do you crash Microsoft Windows?
A: start Microsoft Windows

I later had a PS/2 with a mighty 80286 processor and a 120mb (that’s MB mind you!) hard drive that cost me $1,300 at the time – an enormous quantity of cash then, absurd when you realize that 512mb memory sticks are given away at conferences now. That computer ran Windows okay, v3.1 at the time, but damn it was slow. My pirated copy of Pagemaker would take 10 minutes to render a page… and Wordperfect was still a much better application.

Multitasking? Who would want to do that? The other popular – insanely popular – program was Quarterdeck’s memory switching program, I can’t even remember the name of it now? Back then there was the 640k memory limitation so programs that could use the memory beyond 640k were pretty popular. I think my first real homebuilt hot rod computer had 16mb of memory – loaded to the gills. Quarterdeck later became infamous for receiving one of the first patents for computer software and daring to enforce it.

Also in the pack at the time was Digital Research with their GEM windowing environment, which was actually pretty cool. Of course, the Macintosh was what everybody was trying to be like and Apple kept threatening to sue anyone who dared. Microsoft called their bluff knowing full well that Apple needed Microsoft to sell applications for the Mac and we’re all better as a result.

‘Pump-and-Dump’ Spam Surge Linked to Russian Bot Herders

I have noticed an increase in the amount of spam reaching my inbox, almost all of it pushing penny stocks and featuring a graphic with consistent properties. However, in reading through this article I can’t help but admire the sophistication and ingenuity of the hackers who are behind this. It’s really a shame that same talent can’t be directed into more productive endeavors. Also somewhat staggering to consider is that this botnet is capable of sending out enough email in a single day to read 1/7 of the entire planet.

‘Pump-and-Dump’ Spam Surge Linked to Russian Bot Herders:

With a botnet of this size, the group is theoretically capable of sending a billion spam e-mails in a single day. “This number assumes one recipient per message, [but] in reality, most spams are delivered in a single message with multiple recipients at the same domain, so the actual number of separate spams landing in different inboxes could be even higher,” Stewart said.

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Why HD-DVD and Blu-ray are dead on arrival

There’s a certain amount of irony in the fact that one reason why the entertainment industry is pushing these new DVD formats is because of the DRM that more effectively frustrates counterfeiters but when you think about it the best way for the entertainment industry to eliminate piracy would be invest heavily in broadband deployments and on-demand delivery of content. Not only would they have a pricing model decoupled from the physical economics of producing and distributing a disc, but they would also be able to price counterfeiters out of the market and grow consumption at the same time.

Why HD-DVD and Blu-ray are dead on arrival. – By Sean Cooper – Slate Magazine:

The movie studios and electronics manufacturers think—wrongly—these new high-def formats will extend the market for home-entertainment media indefinitely. Both formats will fail, not because consumers are wary of a format war in which they could back the losing team, a la Betamax. Universal players that support both flavors of HD should appear early next year. No, the new formats are doomed because shiny little discs will soon be history.

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Milton Friedman, 1912-2006

The impact that Friedman had is incalculable and easily surpasses any other 20th century economist. It’s always interesting to consider how history would be different if seemingly disconnected events transpired in different ways because people like Friedman were able to influence a different direction. For example, Friedman believed that the Fed miscalculated greatly at the beginning of the Great Depression by tightening the money supply and as a consequence causing high interest rates. If the Fed were more Friedman than Keynesian at the moment in history would the Great Depression have been a great recession instead and more regional in scope? And if that were the case would Hitler have not been able to rise to power on the backs of the economically disadvantaged in Germany and would that great scar on history and the 50 million lives it claimed never happened?

UPDATE: the New York Sun has a great collection of articles on Friedman.

Milton Friedman – Britain – Times Online:

The chance to challenge Keynesianism had been evident from the mid-1960s, when simultaneously rising inflation and unemployment were countering previously held assumptions that a trade-off existed between the two negative indicators. Friedman emphasised research also being undertaken by his fellow economist, Edmund Phelps, and claimed that the commonly held inflation/unemployment trade-off was in the long run false.

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Milton Friedman, 1912-2006

The impact that Friedman had is incalculable and easily surpasses any other 20th century economist. It’s always interesting to consider how history would be different if seemingly disconnected events transpired in different ways because people like Friedman were able to influence a different direction. For example, Friedman believed that the Fed miscalculated greatly at the beginning of the Great Depression by tightening the money supply and as a consequence causing high interest rates. If the Fed were more Friedman than Keynesian at the moment in history would the Great Depression have been a great recession instead and more regional in scope? And if that were the case would Hitler have not been able to rise to power on the backs of the economically disadvantaged in Germany and would that great scar on history and the 50 million lives it claimed never happened?

Milton Friedman – Britain – Times Online:

The chance to challenge Keynesianism had been evident from the mid-1960s, when simultaneously rising inflation and unemployment were countering previously held assumptions that a trade-off existed between the two negative indicators. Friedman emphasised research also being undertaken by his fellow economist, Edmund Phelps, and claimed that the commonly held inflation/unemployment trade-off was in the long run false.

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