TopStyle Acquired

TopStyle is one of those products that has a small but very committed following. I’m pleased to see that it is going to a good home where the user community will be well served by a lead developer who is just as passionate about TopStyle as Nick was.

It’s no secret that TopStyle has languished since I created FeedDemon several years ago. I’ve had several false starts with the next version, only to be pulled away by other demands. Honestly, it’s been clear for a long time that if TopStyle was going to continue, we’d have to find someone else to handle it – and now we have.

[From Nick Bradbury: ANN: TopStyle Acquired by Stefan van As]

Pulitzer’s Bad News for Mainstream Media

With the inclusion of online publications for consideration for coveted Pulitzer Prizes, the Pulitzer organization slipped in a requirement that will no doubt be considered bad news for major newspapers and news publications hoping to get their hands on a Pulitzer Prize, a “highest journalistic principles” requirement that will surely disqualify major news outlets from consideration.

While broadening the competition, the Board stressed that all entered material — whether online or in print — should come from United States newspapers or news organizations that publish at least weekly, that are “primarily dedicated to original news reporting and coverage of ongoing stories,” and that “adhere to the highest journalistic principles.”

[From The Pulitzer Prizes | Pulitzer Prizes Broadened to Include Online-Only Publications Primarily Devoted to Original News Reporting ]

The Dishonest Debate Over Clean Energy

Beware of people who claim that forcing a shift to renewable energy will result in an economic boom. The technology boom of the last 30 years did not come as a function of forced change but rather efficiencies and cost advantages that were self-evident. If you want renewables for reasons other than economics then great, but don’t try to sell me on the notion that a massive and costly shift to a less efficient resource will result in an economic boom and millions of jobs… that’s just pissing on my leg and telling me it’s raining.

Then came the release of a scathing “peer review” of the scoping plan. Harvard’s Robert Stavins wrote that the ARB’s “economic analysis is terribly deficient in critical ways” and could not be relied on. Janet Peace and Liwayway Adkins of the Pew Center for Global Climate Change wrote that the analysis “gives the appearance of justifying the chosen package of regulatory measures rather than evaluating it.” Wesleyan University’s Gary Yohe wrote it was “almost beyond belief” that the agency could claim vast economic gains and decried the “spurious precision” of its forecasts. UCLA’s Matthew Kahn noted the considerable evidence contradicting the ARB’s claims that manufacturers, who employ 1.5 million Californians, would not be hurt by higher energy costs. Dallas Burtraw of the Resources for the Future group said the models used by the ARB underestimate costs, wrongly anticipate a “frictionless,” easy transition to new energy sources and are in troubling “harmony” about the economic upside of the scoping plan.

[From Dishonest debate | The San Diego Union-Tribune]

It All Started 40 Years Ago Today

Image-Engelbartmice.jpgOn December 9, 1968 Dr. Douglas Engelbart stepped on to a stage at Fall Joint Computer Conference held in the convention center at Civic Center in San Francisco and demonstrated a personal computer with what would later be called a mouse. It wasn’t just a computer with a mouse that captivated the audience, it was the demonstration of what it could do that overwhelmed the audience; rudimentary windows, the editing of text and graphics, and what would later be called hyperlinking.

No doubt it was Doug Engelbart’s low key matter of fact manner and his intellectual honesty about the things he really cares about, managing information with technology, that won the day and the technologies he pioneered would later become the mainstay of modern technology as we know it.

Engelbart is no Steve Jobs on stage (Jobs was 13 years old at the time) but he does have a knack for presenting technology in a day-in-the-life style that makes it easy to understand by novices and experts alike. His primary interest was and remains how we use technology to manage the avalanche of information that is the modern world as opposed to the solution in search of a problem that many inventors embrace these days.

His ideas and creations were so far ahead of their time that many of his patents had expired by the time they became commercial standards. The mouse is just one but perhaps the most illustrative example, Engelbart received a patent for the “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System” in 1970 based on a sketch he made in 1961. Engelbart received no royalties or licenses for what has become the indispensable input device for modern computers. Having listened to his lectures it is clear that Engelbart never was in it for the money, although I find it somewhat disheartening that this man is not a household name considering his impact on what we are doing right now (reading hyperlinked text on a computer navigated by a mouse) relies so heavily on his contributions.

I actually met Doug Engelbart at an event once. At the time he was probably around 80 years old but his intellect was clearly razor sharp yet still displaying the humility that makes the man so endearing. I remember being star struck at the thought of meeting this man, all I could muster was a simple “thank you for everything you have done” comment. Seriously, I simply couldn’t think of anything else to say and feared saying something monumentally stupid to someone who will be remembered as one of the greatest among many greats.

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