So what changed?

The price of a barrel of light, sweet crude oil is almost $95.

Inventories fluctutate, as do currencies. But the real supply of oil and the world conditions affecting it haven’t really changed in quite some time.

This is all about trading, and has nothing to do with the real value of an actual commodity.

So what changed? And why the seemingly sudden leap?

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Monopoly money.

If every person that bought a new car was forced to buy Michelin tires – with no choice in the matter – then Michelin’s quarterly numbers would look pretty good. The same thing would happen for Duracell if every new new battery-powered device came exclusively with their batteries.

So why are folks like Mathew Ingram surprised that Microsoft had a good quarter with 88 million copies of Vista sold? I went to look at new PCs recently until I realized that I would have no choice but to get Windows Vista on that PC. There wasn’t the slightest concern for my needs – it was Vista or nothing.

And those computers came with a particular version of Vista. If I wanted more functionality then I could pay more to upgrade or to buy a whole new copy. Then I’m faced with having to getting update drivers (if they even exist) for my other equipment. And having features turned off if I do something Microsoft doesn’t like with MY computer.Perhaps that is why they’ve been forced to provide a downgrade path back to XP, but only if you paid for a "better" version.

Microsoft simply used its monopoly power to force retailers to buy 88 million copies of their product. And then they raked in the money.

If I was Microsoft, I’d be concerned about the fact that Mac shipments have grown 34% year over year.Because that means that something is driving people to change platforms completely. I switched two years ago, and I can’t imagine ever going back.

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Soon my mom will have a Facebook app.

TechCrunch rants about Epson’s new website complete with social features that tell you which printer suits your personality – because that’s how I choose my printer. Actually I’m surprised that Epson still exists. Of course this may be the last gasp. But my favorite quote was this: Fire the consultants, stop trying to be a conversational marketer and just get back to the basics.Or build a Facebook application. Now that would be cool.

Because it seems that everybody needs a Facebook application these days. In fact, I think that soon my mom will have her own Facebook app.

There are certainly situations where you can use an app to drive awareness of your product or service. StartupNorth describes this very nicely, suggesting that you use Facebook as a conduit:

The opportunity is for you to extract a feature from your real business, and provide that feature as a Facebook Application. You can then try to link users through to your real website. If you are building something worthwhile, they will come there with you and you can focus on turning them in to real customers.

Building a business is pretty difficult when you are dependent completely on someone else and they make all the rules. Better that you should use the marketing power of a tool like Facebook, yet maintain control of the end experience for your customers.

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Execution versus experience.

Facebook announced the F8 platform this past May 25th – my wife’s birthday by the way. I started working with it right away; desktop applications at first and then web-based apps. In fact, I posted back on June 19th about the difficulties I had with login for desktop apps. I just didn’t think you should have to go to a browser to login. So I’ve created a few applications for Facebook. It wasn’t all that difficult considering that I’ve been writing code for over 30 years, and it is after all just another API.

So the platform is five months old, and I’ve been working with it and building appsfor it for that entire five months.

Yet today a company that was talking to me about writing a Facebook application sent me an email today telling me that they were looking for someone with more experience. I’m not exactly sure how you can have more than five months experience with a five month old platform.

That is honestly the first time in my life that someone has ever told me that I don’t have enough experience. Virtually every company I work with is interested in execution and delivery, as opposed to experience. And if I don’t deliver, they don’t pay me, regardless of how much experience I have or don’t have.

If banks gave mortgages based on your experience buying houses the nobody would ever get their first house.

If VCs funded entrepreneurs based on their experience starting companies, then few new companies would ever be created.

A great programmer with no experience will figure out how to get the job done. But there are all kinds of people with plenty of experience who never accomplish anything great. After all, the day after Facebook announced the platform there were people with no experience at all managing to use the platform just fine. The web moves fast; you either figure it out or you get left behind. The Facebook platform changes too, so experience may be meaningless by the next week.

So who does your company value more? People with experience, or people who get the job done no matter what?

I know who I’d hire.

Fortunately for me most people I deal with are more concerned with execution and delivery.They don’t want to get left behind.

Sadly, this just seems to be the tip of a much more endemic situation I’ve noticed, but I’ll have to leave that for a later and much longer post.

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You don’t see that every day.

I couldn’t resist quoting this headline from Good Morning Silicon Valley, if for no better reason than the fact that my wife’s name is Bea:

Dearest BEA, my passion for you knows no bounds. Until Sunday. Love, Larry.

When I worked in Santa Clara she always found it entertaining to drive by the company that bears her name.I’ve even gotten free t-shirts from BEA at trade shows just for showing mail with my wife’s name on it.

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Irv Weinstein lives.

I just saw on the Buffalo Evening News on WKBW that Irv Weinstein, the perennial station anchorman when I was a kid, is alive and well and living in Irvine, CA.

I watched Irv on the nightly news every night when I was a kid, and I actually met him back in 1979 when we were on the news that evening as part of a scavenger hunt.

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You have 9999 notifications.

Doc Searls notes that he just doesn’t have the time to deal with all of the Facebook notifications that he gets:

Anyway, lif’e’s too short, and this list of stuff is too long. If you’re waiting for me to respond to a poke or an invitation,or a burp or any of that other stuff, don’t hold your breath. Or take offense. I’ve got, forgive me, better things to do.

Feeling that it would be rude to cancel the notifications, I instead just ignore them.I already keep my email in Thunderbird, and I’m in no rush to start biting chumps.

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StartupCampWaterloo

I’ll be at StartupCampWaterloo at the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo tomorrow (Tuesday) night from 6:00-9:00 pm. The official blurb looks like this:

StartupCamp Waterloo is a chance to demo your startup idea and get help, feedback, and advice on business-critical questions such as: Have I got my target market right? How can I fund my idea? How can I scale my idea?

The audience will include successful local startup founders, and there will be an opening presentation from Albert Lai, [www.simplyalbert.com]. You will also have the opportunity to meet other people who are thinking about a startup.

StartupCamp is informal, discussion-oriented, and participatory. Every participant is encouraged to give a short demo of their idea. You’re welcome to come if you don’t have an idea to demo, but active participation in the questions and discussions is expected from everyone.

Where: Waterloo Accelerator Centre, 295 Hagey Blvd, Waterloo

When: 6-9pm, October 23, 2007

I’ll be there because it’s just a great chance to hang out with a bunch of smart, entertaining people with great ideas, and to incite some excellent discussions. Not to mention the pizza and Coffee Crisp candy bars.

If you’re wondering where all the cool stuff is happening in Waterloo, this is it.

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