A-listers.

Steve Rubel comments on Jeff Jarvis’s problems with Dell:

Dell meanwhile has not rushed to help Jarvis. If I worked in Round Rock I would have my best tech on a plane to Jeff’s house New Jersey tomorrow. This is inexcusable behavior given that Jeff Jarvis is an A-lister. [emphasis added]

Does that mean it would be acceptable behavior for a lowly person like myself, since I’m not an A-lister?

And you thought Canadian taxes were high.

It’s hard to believe, but there is actually a country that taxes its citizens more than Canada does. Chris Petrie wrote to Mark Steyn, detailing various taxes in Norway:

So come on over and do a piece on Norway. Basically the richest (real) government in the world where the citizens none the less:
1. pay an extra 25% tax on everything they buy and all the services they require,
2. pay a fee to the government to own a TV,
3. pay a fee to the government to own a car,
4. pay 50% income tax, (what good is 5 weeks of paid holiday a year when you have no disposable income to do anything?),
5. pay tolls on the highways for the worst roads in Northern Europe
6. send their kids to schools ranked the second worst education system in Europe, just above Greece,
7. pay upwards of 100% tax on new cars because they are considered luxury items,
8. pay USD 1.70 per liter for gas at the pump (that’s USD 6.45 per US gallon for your American readers), despite the fact that Norway is the third largest exporter of oil in the world after Saudi and Russia,
9. pay USD 10.00 for a pint of beer at the pub,
10. pay USD 5.00 for a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes,
11. pay a tax for traveling abroad (on work or on holiday) because it is considered a benefit to not live on your own house for a period of time,
12. pay a tax on “air-miles” earned while flying (work or holiday),
13. pay an enormous estate when you die (despite the fact that whatever assets you have managed to acquire while alive were paid for in after-tax “dollars”),

And my favourite:
14. pay a VAT tax (25%) on the tax we pay for municipal services (garbage collection, etc)

Tip of the hat to Autonomous Source.

Dude, you’re getting a…. Mac.

Jeff Jarvis has come to the same conclusion that I have – it’s time to switch to a Macintosh.

In Jeff’s case it was problems with Dell hardware that pushed him over the edge. It my case it was the operating system.

It’s a pretty big deal to switch operating systems. That says a lot about how far people will go to find something that works. It also shows just how may chances to fix these problems that were squandered by the vendors.

It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur.

Joe Kraus posts his thoughts on why this is a great time to start a new company:

Excite.com took $3,000,000 to get from idea to launch. JotSpot took $100,000.

Why on earth is there a 30X difference? Theres probably a lot of reasons, but here are my top four. Im interested in hearing about what other people think are factors as well.

Hardware is 100X cheaper
In the 10 years between Excite and JotSpot, hardware has literally become 100X cheaper. Its two factors Moores law and the rise of Linux as an operating system designed to run on generic hardware. Back in the Excite days, we had to buy proprietary Sun hardware and Sun hard drive arrays. Believe me, none of it was cheap.

Today, we buy generic Intel boxes provided by one of a million different suppliers.

Infrastructure software is free
Back in 1993 we had to buy and continue to pay for maintenance on everything we needed just to build our service — operating systems, compilers, web servers, application servers, databases. You name it. If it was infrastructure, we paid for it. And, not only was it costly, the need to negotiate licenses took time and energy. I remember having a deadline at Excite that required me to buy a Sun compiler through their Japanese office because it was the only office open at the time (probably midnight) and we needed that compiler NOW.

Compare that to today. Free, open source infrastructure is the norm. Get it anytime and anywhere. At JotSpot, and startups everywhere you see Linux, Tomcat, Apache, MySQL, etc. No license cost, no maintenance.

Access to Global Labor Markets
Startups today have unprecedented access to global labor markets. Back in 1993, IBM had access to technical people in India, but little Excite.com did not. Today, with rent-a-coder, elance.com and just plain email, we have access to a world-wide talent pool of experts on a temporary or permanent basis.

SEM changes everything
Ten years ago to reach the market, we had to do expensive distribution deals. We advertised on television and radio and print. We spent a crap-load of money. Theres an old adage in television advertising I know half my money is wasted. Trouble is, I dont know what half. That was us.

Its an obvious statement to say that search engine marketing changes everything. But the real revolution is the ability to affordably reach small markets. You can know what works and what doesnt. And, search not only allows niche marketing, its global popularity allows mass marketing as well (if you can buy enough keywords).

Rather than me copying the whole post you should just go read it.

Hang ten – in the pool.

According to New Scientist, two New Zealand companies have developed a wave machine that can emulate the best surf waves around the globe:

Wave machines, which make small, regularly shaped waves, already make pool games more fun. But until now, creating waves big enough for people to learn to surf on has been out of the question. The Versareef, developed by New Zealand companies ASR and Surf Pools, looks set to change all that.

Company directors Shaw Mead of ASR and Kerry Black of Surf Pools spent five years surveying the best reefs in the Pacific to find out which seabed characteristics generate the best surf. “Then we created computer-controlled, movable pool bottoms to mimic those characteristics and generate really powerful waves,” says Black.

Their secret? Computer-controlled pneumatic jacks beneath a tough rubber mat control its shape to within centimetres. By altering the gradient of the slope and the alignment of ridges on the pool bottom, the “reef” can produce breaking waves with different characteristics.

The Versareef will generate four types of wave, named after the places in which they are typically found: Hawaii, Indonesia, California and Australia. The Hawaiian has a steep take-off leading straight into a wall of water, while the Californian is a slower, easier wave, which is better for beginners, says Black.

Though hardcore surfers will never go for it, the Versareef will give you a 75 yard ride on 9 foot waves.

Another conversation.

Robert Scoble is starting to sound a little desperate:

33,000 of you watched the RSS video on Channel 9 over the past few days. But, we’ve only heard from about 100 of you. That means there’s a HUGE number of people who just are staying quiet and not becoming part of the conversation. Why? You think you have nothing to say? I tell you, if 1,000 of you wrote “I listen to podcasts” over on Channel 9 product planners around the world would pay attention. It takes a very small number of people to move companies. But they MUST show up, otherwise those of us who think we are hearing a new customer base get ignored.

He’s begging people to join the conversation. But they are joining the conversation, just not Microsoft’s conversation. The problem is that Microsoft generally doesn’t listen, so when they suddenly claim they are most people can’t be bothered.

I’m not sure why Robert brings up iTunes:

Let’s say you’re an iTunes user. Will Steve Jobs make sure that he keeps iTunes ahead of Microsoft’s stuff? So far he has. He added podcasting support yesterday. Why? Cause he wants to make sure customers are given best-of-breed capabilities. He knows that the minute a better player or podcasting service comes along that the word-of-mouth network will bring that new service or player huge numbers of new customers.

So, let’s go at it another way. What do you want in future versions of iTunes? Do you want to be able to take your feeds out of iTunes and put them into iPodder, for instance? Or Doppler? Or vice versa?

Apple seems to be handling users’ wants and needs pretty well. Is Robert suggesting that Microsoft would do a better job? If so they should do something instead of just talking about it. So far they seem purely intent on eliminating interoperability by introducing a competing system – PlaysForSure.

Robert wants an internet content sharing suite, recalling how the Office Suite improved life for users:

Think back to 1989. Back then you needed to buy a word processing program from one vendor. A spreadsheet from another. A presentation program from another. And a database from yet another. Then Microsoft came out with the Office Suite that did it all. Why was that important? Cause the four apps in the suite worked together (yeah, I know it’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it used to be). They all came for one price. One support system. In one box.

His recollection of the Office Suite is a little fuzzy but I remember it quite well, as I was buying the products for corporate use at the time.

At the time people bought applications from different vendors because they bought best of breed. And few people used presentation tools, Harvard Graphics being the most common. When the Office Suite came out it included Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It was marginally cheaper than the separate applications, but PowerPoint was bonus that you were forced to pay for even if you didn’t want it. The database – Access – didn’t come along until around 1992. And those applications didn’ t work together at all. They just shared a single installation program.

To Microsoft’s credit, that suite of tools has improved drastically. But those improvements came at a cost to me, I’ve been forced to purchase at least six (6) different versions of the Office Suite for a total of about $3000, sometimes just because it was needed to support a new operating system which I was also forced to buy. And the key result of the Office Suite was to kill off all competition, not to work with it.

It comes as no surprise then that people have no interest in contributing to the demise of competition. After all, Internet Explorer as a free component of the operating system contributed to the demise of Netscape.

iTunes happened without Microsoft, and so far they haven’t offered anything better. Lots of great tools happen every day, and if there’s a market for an internet content/sharing creation tool, one will happen. Microsoft is certainly welcome to compete in that market.

Robert is doing a great job getting Microsoft to open up. But personally I look around and see lots of first generation tools – free tools – that I know will get better and I think that if getting better tools from Microsoft means the death of competition, it just isn’t worth it.

There’s more on this over at Channel 9.

Update: Somebody whose opinion I respect called this post a “Scoble smack”. It really wasn’t intended that way. In my opinion Robert has done more to raise my opinion of Microsoft than anyone else. This post was just my thoughts on why people are not rushing to join a conversation with Microsoft.

It’s the little things that count.

Being conveniently close, I stopped in to Nortel’s AGM, with the intent of blogging a bit of it like Mark Evans is here and here.

Unfortunately there was no WiFi available for the poor downtrodden shareholders. You’d think that for a once a year event (and much less frequently lately), a company that likes to promote its wireless products could throw a couple routers around the room and provide a simple connection.

Liberalism made them do it.

Senator Rick Santorum blames the Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal on Liberalism:

It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning “private” moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.

Oddly, living in Boston did not drive me to abuse young boys. Growing up Catholic. I was taught that priests answered to a higher power, and expected them to have higher morals. I later learned that wasn’t always the case; that priests sometimes had human failings.

Yet just because a culture is diverse, open, and tolerant, this should not be enough by itself to drive a good person to aberrant behavior. To suggest such a thing ignores the concept of free will. People are free to make their own decisions; to make choices as those priests did.

These scandals were not limited to Boston, or even to liberal cities. But a common factor was the decision by senior personnel within the church to overlook, even to hide these events. That is the most egregious part of this entire story. Is Senator Santorum suggesting that this liberalism pervasively affected every member of the diocese, even Cardinal Bernard Law? Doesn’t that imply that nobody was capable of thinking for themselves? That seems to be a pretty strong indictment of the Catholic church in general.

Tip of the hat to blogcritics.org.