President Bush on GM and Ford.

President Bush spoke with the Wall Street Journal, and the subject of the recent troubles at GM and Ford came up:

WSJ: Now speaking of competitive, we have some problems. GM and Ford are experiencing some of those problems themselves these days. And to that end, I wonder if you could talk about your thoughts about what their situation is and what the government might or might not be able to do for them.

Mr. Bush: … In terms of competitiveness, we live in a world in which a Ford or GM has got to compete with other manufacturers that are able to deal with costs in a different way than they are, as well as coming up with product that is relevant.

Tip of the hat to Asymmetrical Information.

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Change from within.

So Google has decided to censor search results in China. This may at least be an improvement from no service at all.

Rebecca MacKinnon say that by censoring results Google is committing evil and comments:

One of the big problems with the search experience in China right now is that if you use Yahoo or Baidu or Sina search, you have no way of knowing that information exists out there that you’ve been denied access to.

I hate to be the one to point this out, but no matter where you are you never really know if you’ve been denied access to something.

I’m not sure that following a country’s laws can actually be deemed evil, even if it involves democracy. If anything is every going to change in China it is going to have to change from within. If Google and Microsoft don’t play along for now they will just be excluded, and that won’t help anyone.

So does that make every television and radio station evil if they comply with FCC regulations on speech?

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Your call is MORE important to us.

There’s been a lot of discussion about telecom operators and tiered internet service. Martin Geddes at Telepocalypse notes that we accept differential fees for airline travel:

I landed at SFO yesterday. My airfare included some charges for airport fees which the airline itemises separately.

British Airways also got charged some money by the airport to land their plane. And because it was a 747, they got charged a lot more than the turboprop that followed us.

Not only that, but assume SFO is the only Bay Area airport with runways long enough for a 747. A local monopoly on longhaul traffic.

Yes, and we also accept differential costs for different tiers of airline service – first class, business class, and coach. But the airport charges Martin mentions are really taxes, consumption or otherwise, being passed along to the user. They used to be included in the ticket price. Breaking them out just allows ticket prices to be artificially lowered.

For example, in the telecom world, we all pay the Federal Universal Service Charge. And there are tariff agreements – telecom landing fees as it were – between the carriers. And we are willing to pay for more services, such as call display and voice mail, just as we are willing to pay more for first class comfort.

But the analogies I’ve seen for far are poor. There are a lot of ways to look at this, but just ask yourself this question:

What would things be like today if 75 years ago I could have paid more to have my phone call go through before yours?

Presence of mine.

Everyone is talking about presence these days, most recently in connection with the launch of Tello, a new service. Om Malik, TechDirt, MobileCrunch, and Mathew Ingram have commented.

The problem I see with presence is that current solutions treat every service – IM, landline, mobile, etc. – differently, and they provide a separate presence for each service.

Presence should be capable of telling others that I am available regardless of how, and perhaps note that I can accept voice or text or both. And it must be possible for me to turn presence off, much as I do when I set my status to “Away” in IM.

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Does talent matter?

Elisa Camahort has some thoughts on Halley Suitt’s analysis of American Idol:

Her biggest question is also fascinating to me: do the untalented one really not know they’re untalented?

Sure it may be the person with the most singing talent who wins American Idol, but many other people may benefit from the exposure, even if they have no talent at all. Does the name William Hung come to mind?

Hung was so classically bad he was funny, and he made a pretty decent short career out of it. And that of course qualifies him for Dancing with the Stars.

Speaking of Dancing with the Stars, or Skating with the Stars, am I the only one who’s noticed that the stars are more like celebrity has-beens?

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We CAN copy films. You CAN’T.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been accused of making a copy of a movie without permission:

The MPAA admitted Monday that it had duplicated “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” without the filmmaker’s permission after director Kirby Dick submitted his movie in November for an MPAA rating. The Hollywood trade organization said that it did not break copyright law, insisting that the dispute is part of a Dick-orchestrated “publicity stunt” to boost the film’s profile.

They gave the following reason for making the copy:

“We made a copy of Kirby’s movie because it had implications for our employees,” said Kori Bernards, the MPAA’s vice president for corporate communications. She said Dick spied on the members of the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration, including going through their garbage and following them as they drove their children to school.

“We were concerned about the raters and their families,” Bernards said. She said the MPAA’s copy of “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” is “locked away,” and is not being copied or distributed.

That excuse is contrary to rules the MPAA sets out for everyone else:

The standard the MPAA is using for itself appears to be at odds with what the organization sets out for others: “Manufacturing, selling, distributing or making copies of motion pictures without the consent of the copyright owners is illegal,” the MPAA’s website says. “Movie pirates are thieves, plain and simple…. ALL forms of piracy are illegal and carry serious legal consequences.”

Via digg.

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Sam Bulte, Plagiarist?

Techdirt wonders if Canadian MP Sam Bulte, friend to record and movie companies everywhere (but not so supportive of the citizens who elected her), plagiarized her rationale for stricter copyright laws:

As Geist points out, her “defense” only proves that she only listens to one side as almost every point is taken directly from materials, announcements, speeches and studies done by the content industry she’s accused of being too close to. Over at Boing Boing, it’s pointed out that this could be considered plagiarism, since she takes the points directly from content industry publications, barely paraphrases them, and yet doesn’t give credit for where she got the points.

It doesn’t really matter though, because Canadian news stations are projecting that Ms. Bulte will not be re-elected.

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What IT worker shortage?

Recruiting.com is worried that there may be a shortage of IT workers in Canada on the horizon:

Students think IT jobs are scarce so they don’t go into IT. And that might cause a shortage of IT personnel.

Colleges have reported a 30 – 50 % decrease in program enrolments since 2002. Universities have experienced declines of 20 %.

Yet people I’ve spoken to who are looking for work tell me that companies don’t even get back to them at all when they’ve applied for a position. Or they get the standard “we have identified other applicants whose skills and experience are more aligned to the specific requirements of this position” response. I recently had an HR person interview me for a position they wanted to hire for immediately, never to hear back from them again.

I’ve been through times of IT shortage, and we were deperate to hire people. This is not what is happening now. And there are still layoffs happening.

I don’t think that we’re going to see a shortage in Canada for quite some time, if we ever do again.

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Network technology according to CSI Miami.

Tonight’s episode of CSI Miami has a story reveolving around a company blogger. It seems that by entering the blog link and the times of the posts theye were able to obtain an IP address, albeit one starting with 310 (each octet can’t exceed 255). They were then immediately able to obtain an email address for that IP address.

This is about as realistic as the episodes where they are able to interpolate full photographic resolution in a single magnified pixel, often allowing them to read a license plate on a speeding car hundreds of yards away.

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