Reality Distortion Fields

So he’s basically saying “well if you ignore the actual results, our predictions have been excellent”.

”The seasonal forecasts are quite good,” said Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal forecaster. “Last year, we over-predicted and this year we over-predicted, but our track record, I think, is excellent.” [From Hurricane predictions miss the mark - 11/26/2007 - MiamiHerald.com]

OLPC Stumbles Badly

I met one of the OLPC guys at an event recently, I’m reluctant to write this now because the ambitious goals of group really are noble but the guy I met was so incredibly condescending and self-righteous that I found myself disliking the organization because of my interactions with him alone. Having said that, if nothing else this group has served as a catalyst for the broader marketplace in the quest to bring technology to parts of the world that otherwise don’t have the economic resources or infrastructure to support school age children with modern technology.

This WSJ piece is pretty damning of the initial promises that Negroponte made and the ability of his group to follow through on them. I couldn’t help notice that Negroponte gets pretty close to saying at several points “if I didn’t have competition I’d be able to deliver”, which certainly doesn’t help his cause.

But nearly three years later, only about 2,000 students in pilot programs have received computers from the One Laptop project. An order from Uruguay for 100,000 machines appears to be the only solid deal to date with a country, although Mr. Negroponte says he’s on the verge of sealing an order from Peru for 250,000. The first mass-production run, which began this month in China, is for 300,000 laptops, tens of thousands of which are slated to go to U.S. consumers. Mr. Negroponte’s goal of 150 million users by the end of 2008 looks unattainable. [From A Little Laptop With Big Ambitions - WSJ.com]

Microsoft’s BFD

Hey, it’s their description of the offer.

I am disappointed that we’re almost 2 years from the date that Apple first started shipping Intel chips in their computers and Microsoft has yet to come out with a universal binary version of Office; opting instead to roll the Intel compatible version with a big feature upgrade. How ironic is it that Microsoft is pretty much the last holdout among major Mac app publishers to have an Intel version? I still can’t reliably open OpenDocument file formats that are created by my yet-to-convert-to-Mac brethen, and that converter they made available doesn’t even support Excel OpenDoc format.

More to the point, given the slow performance that comes with running Office 2004 for the Mac, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that Microsoft should give away the upgrade to compensate the faithful for putting up with the hassle and not converting to something like NeoOffice.

Memo to Microsoft:

Speaking for a large percentage of your customer base, I am sick and tired of your big upgrades and 4 year long product cycles (5 in the case of Vista). Give up the “shock and awe” strategy and follow Apple’s lead of rolling out incremental but significant upgrades every 18 months, peppered with frequent online upgrades that do more than fix bugs.

I feel the romance has left our relationship and you just don’t try anymore. We’ve been together for a long time and it shows, the spark is gone. I’ve been doing all the work in this relationship and that has to change. It’s time for you to start going to the gym and shed a few pounds, get a makeover and a new wardrobe, and learn how to dazzle me like you used to. I am telling you this because I care, I know it’s not easy to hear but it’s for your own good.

Christmas Trees

I’ve been a real Christmas tree guy for years but after last year’s disappointment of a tree (I cut it myself but the tree was still dry as a bone by Christmas day) I decided the time was right to change. My wife bought a Balsam Hill artificial tree at their post-Christmas sale last year and we “assembled” it this weekend. The tree was regularly priced at $1k but I think we paid $750 for it.

Wow! I am impressed. Here’s why:

  1. It looks amazing. There is variation in the coloring that mimics real trees, intricately fashioned branches, and enough “randomness” in the tree to make it look quite real. Actually, it looks better than real because the colors are saturated and there’s no holes or bad sides.
  2. It’s pre-lit with colored and white bulbs. No hassling with light strings, the light coverage is full and with a simple remote control unit you can turn on white, colored, or all lights.
  3. Economics. With a 10 year warranty the Balsam Hill tree economics work out better than a real tree over that same period of time, significantly better considering a real tree runs about $125 a year.
  4. Environmental advantage. Think about the process of growing real Christmas trees and the fertilizers and equipment fuel consumed, the logistics of moving them to point of sale, and the cost of dragging it home and then disposing of it. The artificial tree is injection molded plastic, but the logistics are minimal and there is no waste because the leftover trees are inventory for next year.
  5. Safety. I can leave the lights on this tree on for 24 hours a day for the next month and not worry about a fire hazard. I also don’t have to worry about the tree drying out if we leave town.
  6. I do miss the natural pine scent, but as Lisa said “a couple of scented candles will make up for that”.