Complimentary T-Mobile HotSpot access if you upgrade to Vista

This translates into a subsidy worth as much as $120 ($40 a month for unlimited t-mobile hotspot access if you are not a t-mobile subscriber). So basically, if you use the hotspots at Starbucks a lot, upgrading to Vista actually saves you $20 ($99 for the upgrade) assuming nothing else gets jammed up in the process.

Windows Vista Team Blog : Exclusive to Windows Vista users: Complimentary T-Mobile HotSpot access:

Take your mobile PC running Windows Vista to any North American T-Mobile HotSpot between 30th January and 30th April for a complimentary, blazing-fast broadband connection. This offer actually goes live on Friday 26th and will not receive further promotion until January 30th, but I wanted readers of this blog to be the first to know, and to take advantage :)

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Vista marks end of an era for Microsoft

Waters is right to point to the sea shift that is underway at these large software technology companies, a shift away from big traumatic software upgrades to more frequent component bumps. The points that are often missed in these debates is that the focus on the customer obscures the fact that the companies themselves don’t want to continue to deliver software this way anymore, and equally important is that this is not simply a shift in how you develop and ship it, but how you price, support, promote, and build a partner program around these platforms.

For many of these companies the phrase “end of an era” may have deeper consequences as for some of them they will never again see the glory and success they once enjoyed. Microsoft will come out not just okay, I think they will come out of this a much stronger company.

FT.com / Technology – Vista marks end of an era for Microsoft:
That is partly because of what Mr Cusumano calls the internal “trauma” caused by its struggles with Vista. Never again: in future, he says, Microsoft will release less ambitious, and more frequent, updates to Windows.

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Regressive Complexity in SaaS Pricing

Props to Jason for coining a very cool new term – regressive complexity. He is absolutely correct, SaaS pricing is getting too complex which means the title of his post could easily have been “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. SaaS’ early popularity was a function of 1) it’s dramatically lower barrier to entry, and 2) pricing simplification. That’s right, you pay for 5 users and that’s what you got, 5 user ids, but lately it seems that SaaS vendors have grown nostalgic for the days when there was the price you thought you were paying and then what you were actually on the hook when all the extras are added in.

This pricing issue is going to get a lot more uncomfortable for users when they start getting 18 different bills for the variety of services they subscribe to. It would be analogous to cell phones where when I signed up for my Blackberry service I got one bill from T-Mobile and a completely different one from Blackberry even though T-Mobile carries my service. Billing aggregation is a great opportunity for some enterprising young startup to pursue… oh wait a minute… never mind.

What’s Wrong with SaaS?:
Today, that SaaS pricing model is under threat of regressive complexity (I’m coining a new term). Here are two recent examples of that pricing complexity (the respective vendor names have been concealed to protect the innocent).

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OpenID, Get it from Yahoo! & Avoid Phishing

This is some cool news on OpenID, the open source identity technology. I first became aware of this through Zooomr and thought it was a very consumer friendly approach to identity management that got beyond the dreaded “what is my username again?” moment we often have.

There are many password vault solutions on the market today and Sxipper is at least as good as the better of them but the fact that it supports OpenID makes it a little better IMO. These are exactly the kinds of solutions that are making the consumer side of the internet more interesting than the enterprise, which still relies on complicated key mechanisms and certificates. BTW, Sxipper’s first time use wizard is a great example of good usability designed in from the beginning.

O’Reilly Radar > OpenID, Get it from Yahoo! & Avoid Phishing:

OpenID, the lightweight, decentralized identity system (Radar post) had an interesting weekend. There is now a method for using your Yahoo ID with OpenID (unofficial, but sanctioned) and there are new measures designed to reduce the risk of phishing.

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Astronauts and Generational Directionality

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the fire that destroyed the Apollo 1 spacecraft, killing astronauts Virgil Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White.

After the fire NASA spent 2 years investigating, improving the program, and appearing before Congress to justify the program. A divided Congress, the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, and much more contributed to a hostile environment for a program that was consuming enormous amounts of funding and, many believed, would fail in achieving the ambitious goals former President Kennedy had set out in 1961.

NASA persevered and America did succeed in landing a man on the moon and returning him safely by the end of the decade, as Kennedy proclaimed in that address to a joint session of Congress in 1961. At that time Kennedy had been humiliated following the Bay of Pigs fiasco and was losing ground to the Soviet space program which was serious business in the 1950′s and 60′s when those with more powerful rockets could have more powerful nuclear weapons.

The insecurity that this bred was thick and Kennedy knew that landing a man on the moon was not only an opportunity to advance America but also was an important battle in a proxy war with the Soviets. Kennedy, like Ronald Reagan much later, understood that the strategy was simple, there would be no negotiated outcome and, in the words of Reagan, the Cold War had a simple strategy: “we win, they lose”.

It is often overlooked that history is also written in the present, and as I reflected on Apollo 1 I couldn’t help but think of how the country would be different today if those in Congress prevailed in shutting down NASA. Failure analysis should not simply be the study of failure for the sake of understanding what went wrong and then giving up, but rather improving flaws with the objective of persevering and succeeding. We live in a time where it is convenient to suggest that nuance and the many shades of grey permeate and reflect public policy, but quite often it really is as simple as “we win, they lose”.

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In rip-off Britain, PlayStation 3 will cost $835

I have to give credit to Sony for taking a disaster and making it even worse. Not only do they have substantially less demand than they manufactured for when they launched the product, but in the UK they aren’t even bothering to make the price close to the U.S. meaning UK gamers will pay over $800 for the new Edsel. I really thought that Stringer would shake things up when he took over as CEO, but instead what has happened is surely going to be a great case study in how a company’s culture can frustrate even the most talented leaders.

UPDATE: I was remiss in not pointing out that Stringer has delivered stronger than expected financial results, but it should also be pointed out that he did that by cutting costs. Where are the new and exciting products? Nobody talks about how Apple saves money by being more efficient or closing idle factories.

In rip-off Britain, PlayStation 3 will cost $835 from Guardian Unlimited: Technology:

That would have left an amazing 313,000 unwanted PS3s washing about somewhere. Machines that could have cost Sony around $300 million to make.

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Update on Aboutus.org

I thought I would check in on Aboutus.org after writing a pretty negative post about the company last November. Considering how the lipsticking article that spurred my original post focused on Alexa rankings as a proxy for success, it made sense to see how that was going.

200701260801

Aboutus is not a bad idea, it’s just poorly executed. A model based on the user experience Wetpaint provides would be a much better foundation than wikipedia (mediawiki) for the mass market. Furthermore, it would be an incentive to monetize the site through companies sponsoring pages about themselves (or even competitors…. that could be interesting).

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Federal authorities conduct fugitive raid

Regardless of where you stand on illegal immigration and any proposed reforms, you have to admit that it’s jaw dropping that the big operation recently conducted in California by federal authorities to capture and deport criminal illegals targeted, of all places, jails. Yes, out of the 700+ people captured and detained by the federal authorities to be deported, really deported too as opposed to “show up at this date to be deported, now on you way” orders that courts regularly hand out, 423 of them were already in jail on non-immigration related criminal charges.

The-seven day Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sweep, dubbed “Operation Return to Sender,” targeted jails across five counties in the Los Angeles area, where police took 423 of what they called “criminal aliens” into federal custody for deportation, after being held on charges unrelated to their immigration status.

The fact that state and local authorities can’t relieve the overcrowding in California’s jails by returning to sender those people who are detained on criminal charges who are in the state illegally is just scandalous and a symptom of a much larger bureaucratic problem that puts public safety secondary to the illegal immigration battle that has been underway in this state for over two decades.

Community activists like Antonio Bernabe really miss the bigger point when they make statements like this:

“The police didn’t just take people with deportation orders, they took anybody … guys who were just hanging out in the street and even from a Jack in the Box restaurant … and now people are afraid to go out,” he added.

Actually the inconvenient fact of this is that the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants captured in this raid were sitting in jail on charges not related to their illegal status. If anyone should be afraid it should be those people in the very communities where these people live and work, including the people that Bernabe is trying to help. Not only is it intellectually dishonest for Bernabe to make this statement, but there is a deficiency of integrity that goes along with trying to spin this as “poor helpless immigrants getting swept up out of their homes by the feds”.

Oh yeah, and in another “I couldn’t even make this up” story, 24 illegal immigrants were captured during this operation when they approached ICE agents taking a break and solicited them for work. Now this could be forgiven as an honest mistake by this group were it not for the fact that the agents, 10 of them, were wearing their ICE raid jackets and badges on their chests. In addition to deportation, these 24 should be given the Darwin Award or perhaps their own reality TV program. On a more serious note:

Of the 24 suspected illegal immigrants detained by authorities, Raimondi said, six men had criminal records, three had final judges’ orders of removal from the county, and eight men previously had been physically removed from the country, including one who had been caught at the border six times.

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Techmeme still tops on my daily tour

My infatuation with user-driven news sites has come and gone, but Techmeme is still at the top of my daily reading list (with Drudge, I admit it). I guess the fact that there is an approach to selection and presentation of content based on an ever improving algorithm rather than simply user behaviors just makes it more useful to me. Gabe Rivera has done a really great job at building not just the site, but also the brand and monetizing it.

There are some lessons in here, I just haven’t put it all together yet.

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