Microsoft says “We’re still relevant.”

Steve Ballmer says that Microsoft is gaining on Google:

In the next six months, we’ll catch Google in terms of relevancy,” he said.

He seems to be assuming that Google is just standing still and waiting for them. It appears that Google is on a completely different plane, leaving Microsoft in perpetual catch up mode.

Microsoft has forgotten that relevance is based entirely on what customers think of you, and Google is the clear winner in mind share. It must be frustrating for Microsoft to fight against an enemy that doesn’t seem to play by any rules – because they don’t have to.

Ballmer wants to be able to search corporate databases for information:

Take for instance the Siebel database. Now I’ve never used that interface. But I’d love to go to it and say ‘who is the account manager for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia?’,” Ballmer told the partners.

Wouldn’t you also like to click on Google Maps and see all of your customers and their data? If I served a geographic area that would sure be a lot more useful than multiple queries.

Kill Bill C60.

Canada is about to pass new copyright legislation that gives new rights to foreign-owned content companies, yet takes rights away from individuals.

www.KillBillC60.ca is a site that aims to fight that.

As the site notes, the government’s own FAQs on the bill employ Digital Rights Management (DRM) to ensure that you cannot copy and repost the content:

English FAQ
French FAQ

*note that these files are encumbered with a form of Digital Rights Management. This was put in place by our own government to restrict YOUR legitimate access to the content. This is a prime example of how DRM can be abused. If our own government is abusing this technology (the one department which should know better, no less), you can bet that private corporations will be also.

My favorite part is the one where your right to make a private copy is eliminated:

Q7. Is there a risk that protection of technological measures (TMs) will adversely affect users?

A. … Circumvention for the purposes of making private copies of sound recordings will not be permitted, however. …

Perhaps you have purchase the latest Coldplay or Foo Fighters CD as I have, both of which have DRM which silently installs on your computer without your knowledge. This bill says that you will be unable to make a backup of that CD, or even listen to it on your iPod. That sure sounds like an adverse effect to me.

Better living through technology.

I occasionally do the laundry at our house, and to check the load I have to get up out of my chair and walk around the corner to the laundry room. So you can certainly understand how excited I was to see the LG Remote Monitoring Laundry System.

Now if only they could get the information sent to my computer or my television.

Tip of the hat to Engadget.

The “record” button.

JD Lasica at Darknet asks “What does it take to ‘induce’ infringement?

That’s easy. A “record” button. As soon as Sony put a record button on the Betamax VCR, they were clearly inducing infringement.

Aren’t makers of blank tapes, CDs, DVDs, or media of any kind inducing infringement? What about products like the Archos portable media player? They have no store from which to but videos, so the user is forced to copy them from somewhere else. What about TiVo?

In Canada, Shaw Cable advertises their service as a way to download that one good song from an album.

I’m sure that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) thinks just like the Business Software Alliance (BSA) – eliminate piracy and people will replace every illegal copy with a licensed copy. Sorry guys. Ain’t gonna happen. Microsoft admitted that when they licensed their software for $1 per computer in Indonesia.

Meanwhile you’ve pissed off customers who already buy CDs and because of DRM can’t use them on their iPods – even though they paid for them. Where is the incentive to buy a CD when it is useless to you?

Some smart company is going to start helping artists to publish direct to the web and you can say goodbye to the ridiculous markup on physical items. I’m sure artists wouldn’t mind being paid directly. In fact, iTunes probably has the wherewithal to do marketing for new album releases if they want to, which would probably be a much preferred way of spending the 65 cents they currently pay the record companies for each song. They could give the artist 10 cents per song and spend the rest on marketing. It’s pretty clear that the RIAA is concerned about the gravy train going away.

As for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), DVD sales are spectacular, and growing. You’re even selling old TV shows on DVD. shows that were paid for long ago, with no royalties to pay – all profit. Just how greedy are you?

Hard questions.

It seems that the Committee on Energy and Commerce is interested in global warming, specifically asking Mann et. al. [1998] about the data and methodology between their “hockey stick” curve. Among other things they want to know this:

According to The Wall Street Journal, you have declined to release the exact computer code you used to generate your results. (a) Is this correct? (b) What policy on sharing research and methods do you follow? (c) What is the source of that policy? (d) Provide this exact computer code used to generate your results.

I’ve often thought it odd that answers to those very questions have never been demanded before.

Tip of the hat to Kate McMillan at the Western Standard.

No more stamps.

Confessions of a Brand Evangelist has a pretty good idea:

Let me suggest a new paradigm. Charge me for postage. Build it into your business model. Sneek a few extra pennies into that cover price. Squeeze a buck out of me with a higher interest fee. I won’t notice. I promise. But here’s what I will notice: when I turn your envelope over and it says “No postage necessary in the United States.” Oh that will be sweet. Not because I didn’t have to pay the 37 cents. But because I didn’t have to pay with my time and attention.

This would have to be balanced by the fact that if I pay my bill online I shouldn’t be charged for postage.

Deja vu all over again.

The Head Lemur doesn’t exactly think that Microsoft’s support for RSS is a good thing:

In yet another late to the party announcement, Microsoft says that it will support RSS in the next version of Windows. Segments of the tech community are abuzz with this news.
Codenamed Longhorn, which basically means that Microsoft will have another opportunity to shove another operating system farther up your computers rectum, and deeper into your wallet.

[...]

Anybody who views this as a positive development, needs to step away from the keyboard. Microsoft is the last company in the world to do anything for the people. This is about Microsoft maintaining market share for it’s software.

Rick Segal, an ex-Microsoftie, disagrees:

In the past, you wouldn’t have seen support for “pure” RSS. Not on my watch, boyz. Nope, what you would have seen is yours truly hawking something along the lines of SIR (Surround Isolate and Replace) Technology or RSS+.

You would have seen an announcement about RSS+ which will work with the standard stuff, but, puhlezz, why do that when you can kick butt with RSS+ on the Windows platform. I’d then have deployed about a million CDs, had jump start sessions all over the globe, and let developers around the world ship the RSS+ modules ahead of a pending release of Windows. Or, heck, we’ll take a shot with something like Active Desktop. Need I say more?

[...]

That process is impossible today. The nature of the Internet as a delivery platform simply makes this strategy impossible. Today’s world of blogging, mass (really mass) adoption of a technique or strategy by virtually “everybody”, gives things like RSS enhancements a rapid thumbs up or thumbs down before Microsoft or any other big player can dictate the game.

Ah the joy of short memories It was almost 10 years ago that Microsoft got the internet religion, after Bill Gates had said in “The Road Ahead” that the internet didn’t really matter. There was only Netscape and Mosaic, but then came Internet Explorer. Standards-based of course, with a few extensions, like ActiveX for example. The extensions are documented so that anyone can use them.

Suddenly this browser is free with the operating system. It’s pretty difficult to compete with free. So the people that created the ideas, the innovation, the technology, are driven out of business or into obscurity.

The result? The browser stagnates, and IE becomes the biggest tool for security breaches and virus infection known to mankind. Microsoft does nothing about that, except for a few simple patches.

Then comes Firefox which rapidly begins to steal press and market share, given better features and more security, as well as built in tools like popup-blocking. Suddenly Microsoft is concerned about their customers again, and promises a new browser version to fix everything. They latch on to RSS, today’s hot technology (already supported by Firefox), and announce that they are building their tools around it.

They announce Microsoft support for RSS. Standards-based of course, with a few extensions. The extensions are documented so that anyone can use them.

Suddenly this RSS support is free with the operating system, embedded into every Microsoft application It’s pretty difficult to compete with free. So the people that created the ideas, the innovation, the technology, are driven out of business or into obscurity. Only this time it isn’t Netscape. It’s NewsGator, or PubSub, or Bloglines, or Feedster.

And then RSS stagnates. Sound familiar?

This doesn’t necessarily have to be the outcome. But it sure sounds eerily familiar.

The Head Lemur doesn’t exactly

The Head Lemur doesn’t exactly think that Microsoft’s support for RSS is a good thing:

In yet another late to the party announcement, Microsoft says that it will support RSS in the next version of Windows. Segments of the tech community are abuzz with this news.
Codenamed Longhorn, which basically means that Microsoft will have another opportunity to shove another operating system farther up your computers rectum, and deeper into your wallet.

[...]

Anybody who views this as a positive development, needs to step away from the keyboard. Microsoft is the last company in the world to do anything for the people. This is about Microsoft maintaining market share for it’s software.

Rick