So the song says.

Those who believe the old song that says it never rains in California have not spent the last two weeks in California. I’ve seen some pretty torrential downpours, but everything eventually gets back to warm and sunny like it is now.

Of course if you actually listened to the song you would know that, while it may not rain in California, it pours. Right now it’s just perfect.

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Bad economics.

Canadians pay a levy on blank recording media like tapes and recordable CDs that goes to the record companies, because Canadians are assumed by default to be criminals who steal music. Despite the fact that you buy those CDs solely to back up your computer, you still are forced to pay the record companies.

But the levy is not a percentage; it’s a fixed price per unit. As the price of CDs plummets, you just end up paying a larger percentage to the record companies. Michael Geist points out just how ridiculous this has become, with consumers now paying twice as much for the levy as they do for the CDs:

The numbers remain unchanged: 21 cents per CD-R. As prices have dropped, however, the levy now frequently comprises a significant percentage of the retail price. Consider the purchase of 100 blank Maxell CDs. Future Shop retails the 100 CDs for $69.99. The breakdown of this sale is $48.99 for the CDs and $21.00 for the levy (even worse is a current Future Shop deal of 200 blank CD-Rs from HP, which retails for $59.99. The levy alone on this sale is $42.00 (200 CDs x 21 cents/CD) which leaves the consumers paying $17.99 for the CDs and $42.00 for the levy).

Tip of the hat to Digital Copyright Canada.


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A solution in search of a problem.

Like the folks at Qumana, I also don’t get the OPML Editor. Perhaps it’s because I tried it on the Mac, because it doesn’t seem to work well there. I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with it. I think an application should give some suggestion of what you can do with it, but it wasn’t obvious from the menus (but no screen or preferences) that the OPML Editor presented.

Perhaps there is some great unmet need for this kind of thing. I get the outlining capability from looking a Lisa’s draft manual, but I’m not sure how this applies to blogging. Are we talking about threaded posts by category? Because I couldn’t see how that would work either.

I wrote a blog editor named Bleezer .It does what I want it to do, no matter how long or short the post. I’ve yet to see an example of what Lisa or Dave Winer refer to of "a new way to blog".

A concrete example of this revolution in blogging might ne nice. Perhaps we’re all just too dumb to understand.

One recommendation. You really can’t convince someone that they are wrong by telling them that they don’t get it. You have to tell them how it makes their experience better. The reason blog editors look the way they do is because everyone understands the WYSIWYG word processing experience. People need a frame of reference to understand how to do something.


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My Rick Segal story.

After listening to everyone else, I finally have my own Rick Segal story to tell. Rick and I had dinner the other night in a little restaurant in Los Angeles.

I didn’t pitch anything to him. We didn’t talk about technology, or business. We talked about sailing, about his wife’s education, my wife’s daycare, and our kids. And he paid.

That’s all. I had a great time, and he is a nice down to earth guy.


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Shutting down the internet.

Not satisfied with only suing those who are sharing movies, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is now also suing the search engines that find the movies:

The Motion Picture Association of America said Thursday that it sued a new round of popular Web sites associated with movie piracy, including several that serve as search engines but do not distribute files themselves.

I have a much better idea. The MPAA should just sue the telecoms like Verizon and BellSouth and put a stop to this whole internet thing. After all, the ISPs are clearly aiding and abetting file sharing by providing connectivity.

Once we’ve killed this silly notion of mass communication we’ll eliminate the problems of information sharing AND low cost phone service. Then everybody can raise their prices for their captive markets again.

Problem solved.

Via Furdlog.


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Useless tools.

I could build an entire application from start to finish with no problem in Netbeans, but I had to waste an entire afternoon trying to figure out why the debugger in Microsoft Visual Studio won’t show me the value of a pointer.

I estimate that my productivity level has dropped by about 200% by using Visual Studio, and most of that time is spent tracking down errors that aren’t even explained on Microsoft’s site.

Yesterday I needed the Windows Media Format SDK. At I couldn’t find anything but the 64-bit version. I Googled it and the top hit was…. you guessed it – at But Microsoft sure wasn’t going to tell me about it.

Next time Robert Scoble talks about how much better search could be he should start with his own site.


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Cheap versus stable.

Om Malik is writingabout Vyatta and their open source router:

Vyatta is one of the many start-ups that are bringing open source disruption to the highly profitable and closed world of networking. While open source software movement has ravaged the bottom lines of companies like Sun Microsystems; networking behemoths like Cisco and Juniper have continued to enjoy fat margins they earned even before the telecom crash of 2000. Even today, a big portion of their IT budget goes into networking gear. Routers, switches, firewall devices, and even VPN boxes cost thousands of dollars.

Yes routers are expensive, but a big part of that cost we pay for stability; the guarantee that our routers will stay up and running, and a number to call when they don’t. That’s the biggest problem with open source that I can see. It won’t replace the pricier options until it is as stable and well supported. And that support cost needs to be factored into the price somehow.

As Om points out though, open source tools are definitely going to make huge inroads into developing countries like China. In my last job I competed against Huawei who were using open source software and cutting their prices to 50% of ours. At the point you have no choice but to use open source solutions. And that is going to hurt companies like Cisco unless they are willing to take a loss to get the business.

Also, the use of open source tools might allow people to begin to compete with the big telecom companies.


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One huge opportunity.

Jeremy Wright is afraid of MySpace:

MySpacers connect better than bloggers, get their friends into it better than bloggers, stay in touch more than bloggers, and form true sociological pods better than bloggers. MySpace is closer to the Google Grid than Google is. MySpace is the closest humanity has ever come to a central community or a central consciousness.

Well that makes sense because blogging isn’t really a social connection framework; it’s just publishing with a little bit of moderate feedback – a few comments on a post. It isn’t a community. When bloggers connect with each other they do it outside of blogs. The blogs are just the introduction point.

MySpace is a publishing medium as well, but while blogging is the domain of "adults", MySpace is the domain of teens. And let’s face it, this is the most connected generation in history. MySpace is merely one of many connection and communication channels.

MySpace isn’t a culture unto itself. It is merely one more outlet for a very connected culture and lifestyle. As I’ve watched my kids grow up the internet has been integral to their lives, first for research, and now for an almost unbroken connectedness. They move effortlessly from MSN Messenger to Skype to cellphones and back. Their IMs are sent to their phones. They make plans online. I’ve even watched a few of my son’s friends sit with laptops in our family room and laugh simulaneously at some comment they’ve IM’d around, without a word spoken.

And if MySpace were to suddenly vanish something else would take its place the next day, if not sooner. I can remember the day Napster shut down. My kids had new tools within minutes. Just as the internet routes around problems, so do they.

I read the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson for the first time over 10 years ago, and I can now clearly see it becoming a reality. My kids spend much of their time connected. In fact that is often the quickest way to get a message to them. And we can move information, software, music, or videos virally around the planet in minutes.

I personally don’t care if blogging becomes obsolete tomorrow, because for me it is just a tool to reach people. If a tool like MySpace, or some even cooler thing that comes along tomorrow does a better job then I’ll be there to use it.

I see MySpace as a huge opportunity. For research on how people interact and communicate. For understanding on how to better market effectively to large groups of diverse people. For improving our ability to build connections and maintain them.

Disruptions are like that. You have to destroy what you have to get something better. Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, said his company had to blow up their business model if they wanted to grow. Apple just says Think Different. MySpace isn’t scary. It’s just different.

But if you’re a teen, it’s perfectly normal. And it’s just the beginning, because in their lifetimes the internet has been a constant disruption. They’re used to change. Everybody else better get used to it.


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Toronto: Where the Web 2.0 action is.

Given that Toronto – actually anywhere east of Vancouver – has a distinct lack of “Web 2.0″-ish activity, it’s nice to see that Mark Evans, Mathew Ingram, Rob Hyndman, Michael McDerment, and Stuart MacDonald are banding together to organize a conference on the subject.

Whatever you want to call it, the Web 2.0 idea is effecting a huge change on the way we do things, from creating and releasing products without funding, to altering the way we find and consume information in all types of media, to our expectations of how we do business.

While I’d love it if the run the show on the west side (I live in Waterloo), I appreciate them getting this going. I’d be happy to lend a hand as well. Maybe they can even get local VCs like Rick Segal to show up, if he isn’t too busy hanging out with Robert Scoble on the west coast.

After all, Bleezer was just a start. I’m thinking about some new ideas myself.


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The Clueless Manifesto

From Kathy Sierra comes the Clueless Manifesto:

Here’s to the Clueless Ones

The ones who see things differently

They’re not fond of rules (granted, that’s because they don’t actually know about the rules)

They have no respect for the status quo (see previous statement)

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.

I’ve always thought of myself as clueless. Read the whole thing.


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