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April 2002 Archives


April 30, 2002 4:51 AM


If you own a Titanium Powerbook, and your current bag for it is lame, old, smelly, ripped or otherwise unsavory, consider buying this bag from Trager. I just got mine via UPS yesterday and I love it. It's not too big, or too small (It fits the wide Powerbook snugly), or designed for e'd up ravers or derelict bike messengers. But if you are one of those, you might like this bag anyway, so check it out.

April 29, 2002 5:01 AM


There's an IRS proposal to tax employee stock purchase plans. Such a plan exists at my company, where I can contribute part of my salary to the plan which is used to purchase company stock at a discount rate (which is a small percentage, and is often nullified in a day by recent moves in the market). According to C|Net...
Under the new regulation, the IRS would tax that "discount" spread of 10 percent to 15 percent. Unless workers were to sell the stock the same day they exercised it, they would owe taxes on earnings they had yet to receive. And employers would be required to pay the IRS a matching amount.
I can sort of understand taxing the employee on the discounted rate, but only if it has provided a profit, and only when a trade has been executed between the employee and a third party. This proposed regulation clearly would disincentivize the employee (and in certain cases, would devalue the stock). The part about the employer having to pay a matching amount sounds like the terms of a loan shark.

If you are reading this blog, you are probably a tech worker like myself and are likely to be impacted by this IRS rule (in one way or another). So speak up and contact your congressional representative.

April 28, 2002 8:57 AM


Gamespot is running an Flash intro-esque commercial when you go to gamespot.com. It works just like any other site with a Flash intro, but there's no 'skip intro' link, so you have to sit and wait. At least with pop-under ads, the content you asked for is actually loading (and some browsers let you turn un-solicited window.open events OFF).

April 26, 2002 4:44 AM


On the WebDesign mailing list there has always been an anti-Verisign/Network solutions attitude. I understand that feeling because I've used them as a domain name registrar in the past and have had various problems. Also, their fee structure for transferring a domain to another entity is outrageous ($200 for a simple write to a database record!) and the process is a complete hassle. At the same time, they sell currently owned domains to other people and blame the victim. Amazing.

It's really no wonder then that Verisign announced horrible numbers yesterday. I can't imagine that people are going back to them for follow on business. I've worked with them before as a consultant (they were the client) and found an overly bureaucratic and scattered organization, and this seems to be the way the way they run their services. But, I now work for one of the largest corporations on earth right now, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

April 24, 2002 9:51 AM


I am struggling with the task of representing the concept of "usage" as an icon. Response Time wasn't difficult, but I have exactly zero ideas about drawing usage. Oh yeah, I only have 25 pixels square to work within :^/

April 21, 2002 6:35 AM


As I mentioned in my last post, I've started a new job recently, and this has made regular updates difficult to do. Also, a recent XBOX purchase has caused time issues, but I plan on getting back into the swing of things as soon as I can.

April 9, 2002 9:40 AM


I just started a new job at AOL yesterday. Up until last week, the job search was utterly depressing, which only got worse as time went on. Back in August of '01 we all knew that the poor financials were going to catch up with us soon. Accounts receivable was not outpacing liabilities and no new work was starting. On September 9th an all hands meeting was called to take place on the 11th. Having seen two rounds of layoffs occur at these 'all hands' meetings, we knew what was going to happen. Obviously, the day was much worse than we anticipated.

The consensus in August was that any new work would have to come ASAP because payment always comes long after the project starts. If something didn't come quick, there was going to be hell to pay (or rather, all hell and no pay). Throughout 2001 we kept laying people off and nothing significant had come in the door since the TMC deal was confirmed, which is a day I still remember vividly.

In the summer of 2000, the BookAdventure team was on its way to Baltimore for a launch party after finishing a 3 month redesign. On the way to Baltimore, we got a phone call with the good news, and it felt like we were firing on all cylinders. Just few months previous, we had moved into our new offices, which was a huge improvement to the one room temp space we had, which wasn't an improvement from the days where everyone was working from home. We now had 30+ employees, a multi-million dollar project, and a corporate culture that was great. Everyone was friends, the work was interesting, and the money was getting better and better.

Not since then has a large project come to pass. In fact, nothing even close has come around, but we have had several smaller jobs to keep the company going. At the height, we were up to 60 employees with Y2K Christmas bonuses reaching the 25% range. A year later, the bonus was not getting laid off. Seriously.

On December 15, 2001, we had our 4th round of layoffs, and almost everyone got the ax. We were still reeling from the layoffs of September 11th when we watched the smoke rising from the Pentagon as we heard about 30% cut in staff. At this most recent round of layoffs, it was also announced that Senior Management, all 5 of them, began working for no pay (which I admired and benefitted from). A list of names was read off and I heard my name. These names were those of billable employees and thus would remain on the payroll until their projects ended. I thought I was saved, and so did everyone else, but I found out in a private meeting afterwards that I was only billable for the next 4 days, and then I was done.

Thankfully, I had three weeks of vacation saved up (the maximum allowed) and was able to 'take my vacation' and get paid for the time. The next day, I came to work, and there was only a few people there; the billable people. The culture had always been based on lots of social interaction, and the lack of people to be social with was a kick in the teeth.

Back in the glory days, ever other week or so, a large group of us would head down to a bar in the next building. Most of us had been there many times before, and thought of it as the usual place to go. We ate and drank and the bill was usually paid for by one of the company Partners, and everything was great. That was then, this is now.

Today, just a few people are billable, and 5 others remain unpaid for the their efforts, which have been fruitless in spite of constant efforts. The e-business climate has been horrible for so long. They are attempting to keep the company going, but it's like a desert hiker trying to find his way to an oasis. Which is a metaphor for the job search.

Anyway, after my 3 weeks of 'vacation', the other person at the company who does what I do, quit because she was lucky enough to find a job elsewhere. She had been the person to orient me when I joined the company, and was always gregarious and helpful. But, her exit opened up a billable position for me, and is what kept me working until I found my new job at AOL.

Ironically, if I hadn't lived through this I would have felt that I had missed something.

April 3, 2002 2:16 AM


I see more and more of these non-scientific survey's covering the Mac/Windows divide, and they always show more people willing to give up their WinTel boxes. But, the retail (and market share) numbers never materialize.

I'm beginning to wonder if there are more and more people out there who are getting tired of the bug-fix-as-service-pack business model coming out of Redmond (read: pay for fixes to bugs that shouldn't have been released in the first place). These folks get to use surveys as a way of complaining without having to give up their Windows habit or actually spend their hard earned money on over priced hardware.

April 2, 2002 11:36 AM


I've been harping about wireless technology and the opportunities it offers to today's wired citizen. The big thing I think will happen will be a new range of products and services made possible by the Big Fat Pipe (ie, transfer speeds in the megabit range). Today, delivering rich media, like audio, video and other data intensive applications, is not viable in the 56k economy.

I have also harped on the last mile problem and about how I think wireless technologies can help solve that problem. Today, Ars Technica published an article on a third generation wireless technology that is pretty in depth (as most Ars Technica articles are). Here's a quote...

IMT-2000 specifies a minimum data rate of 144 kilobits/second in high-mobility (vehicular) applications, 384 kilobits/second for pedestrian applications, and 2 megabits/second for indoor (stationary) applications. These speeds are intended to facilitate the delivery of high-quality audio, streaming video, content-laden web pages, and a veritable cornucopia of rich media "experiences."
And this is the result we should all be hoping for and what companies like AOL should attempting to harness to drive consumption rates and (advertising) revenues.
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