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May 2002 Archives


May 31, 2002 9:21 AM


AOL/Netscape recently, and unexpectedly (to me anyway), announced Preview Release One of Netscape 7, which elicited some discussion on the Web-Design List (if you are on that list, ignore this post, because you've seen it already). One comment in particular got my attention...
This [going to version number 7] will hurt, not help, Netscape in getting real adoption for the browser. It won't encourage people to try it as their primary browser for a week. They've already done that with an identically behaving browser.
I completely disagree. The disaster that has been Netscape 6.x needs to be relegated to the past and releasing Netscape 6.2.4 (or 6.4 or 6.5, etc) is not going to accomplish that. In order to move forward, and drive acceptance of the nascent Mozilla 1.0 in a wide spread and commercial environment, /Netscape needs to indicate, somehow, that they have a browser worth downloading. Bumping to "Netscape 6.5" does not accomplish that.

IMHO, Netscape 7.pr1 says to the world 'hey look, we have an meaningful upgrade that we want people to pay attention to, so be mindful that 7.0 is coming soon.' Netscape 6.5 says to the world 'look, another rev, go back to what you were doing.'

These days, version numbers are marketing devices, not accurate representations of the actual upgrade or feature set of the product. The new NVidia GeForce4 MX cards are a perfect example of this dynamic screwing the uninformed consumer. So consider yourself newly informed...

When you think GeForce 4, be it in the Ti or the MX line, you think about a generational step forward.  The GeForce 4 MX is a step forward, just not what you would expect.  The GeForce 3 that is now over a year old is powered by NVidia's NV20 GPU.  So what is NVidia's technical name for the GF4 MX... the NV25, NV30, what is it you ask?  Try the NV17. This is why you will hear people compare the GF4 MX to the GF2 MX.


May 30, 2002 8:26 AM


Pirate copies of 'Attack of the Clones' are already on the street, but the movie is making gobs of cash in the movie theatres. Eminem's new record is showing up as the #2 record in Gracenote's CDDB (which is what Winamp and most other MP3 players use to look up record titles) and has caused the actual CD to be rushed to market...
Analysts caution, however, that the real result of the early piracy will be impossible to untangle, whether sales figures are high or low. The online versions and bootlegging could serve as a marketing vehicle, whetting fans' appetite for the real thing, noted P.J. McNealy, research director for GartnerG2, a division of the Gartner research firm. Or it may cut into sales.
What are the odds that it will make gobs of cash when it's actually released? I think the chances are very high and if so, it probably shows that good content (or more to the point, highly desired content) will drive sales in spite of piracy. The opposite affect will hit second rate content where piracy will canabalize sales based on the low perceived value of the content (so the pirated copy becomes 'good enough' and there's no perceived reason to buy the real thing). Hopefully this will drive content producers to create and publish content that is worth the pruchase price.

May 29, 2002 8:31 AM


For the people in the blogging community, articles about blogging are beyond passe, and chances are you are one of those people, so please excuse this short digression. OK, consider this quote taken from an MSNBC article...

Dave Winer (who probably would be saying this even if he didn't run a company that sold blogging software), has formally wagered that by 2007, more readers will get news from blogs than from The New York Times.

Now, I do believe that eventually more people will read weblogs than the New York Times. However, more people will not get their news from weblogs for the simple reason that weblogs are not news sites in the traditional sense (and the traditional sense is a part of that quote by the simple fact that it mentions the Times as the benchmark). This blog that you are reading right now is not a news site, does not employ news gathering professionals, and does not attempt to be impartial (in fact, opinion and insight are at the core of this, and most other blogs). The idea that people would come here or go to Camworld for "news" (within the scope of the quote above that mentions the Time) is ridiculous. IMHO, that quote above is hype.

I would suggest that the sociological effect of weblogs will be borne from sites like Blogdex that will become Conventional Wisdom barometers.



May 28, 2002 8:34 AM


This guy "gets it".
[He] thinks he could be the Jeff Bezos of the next Internet gold rush. And he's got a simple strategy for making it big: spend seven hours a day playing a new computer game.
If your a gamer, you've probably heard about the EverQuest Ebay auctions that yield real dollars for virtual goods (even if it's not exactly legal). The same sort of thing goes on in the Diablo2 universe where a couple of kids I know (kids = persons in their teens or younger) play Diablo as normal, and sell their better items via eBay for spending money. To be honest, I wish I had a racket going like that back in my day, but instead I bagged groceries. I digress.

So anyway, what blows me away is how this sort of thing can be going on, and then at E3...

Bruno Bonnell, CEO of publisher Infogrames, said online gaming via consoles won't begin to catch on until more homes have broadband Internet service, which is why he's taking a go-slow approach.

"We don't want to start too early, too big," Bonnell said. "We just don't think there's a business there yet.
There is an obvious disconnect here, and I'm not exactly sure what it is. Maybe it's because a console seems to require a broadband connection to the net. Which is weird since I can play Tribes2 on my WinME machine via 56k and still be competitive with 3.3 to 1 kill ratio.

May 25, 2002 5:11 AM


I got my misleading renewal notice from Verisign today which isn't going to help their image very much. It must be desperation time over there to pull something like this, even if they do have other things worth promoting.

May 24, 2002 1:19 AM


Or at least, I hope they won't. The simple reason being that I work in an environment where there are scores of other people using computers (read: cube farm). If even 10% of them were issuing commands to their machines by speaking, the noise would be absolutely and unbearably annoying. But, the 800 pound gorilla has been talking about a bright new future of voice recognition systems. As reported by C|net...
Although speech recognition has been around for years and has seen limited adoption, Microsoft is betting that more powerful hardware and software means that the technology is ready to become a part of Web sites and business systems.
Now, the part of 'web sites and business systems' is pure crap (imho) due to the reason mentioned above. But there are a few targeted applications of this tech that I think would be extremely useful. First, for those who only have their voices, this sort of tech is essential. Second, for geeks like myself that play squad-level online games (like Tribes2) communicating via voice is an exponential leap over text based communication. But there's a diff between issuing commands to a voice recognizing computing system and another dork playing Tribes2. But Microsoft knows that. Again, as reported by c|Net...
Software maker Fonix announced it signed an agreement with Microsoft to provide speech recognition software for its Xbox game console. Microsoft later this year will begin selling the Communicator, a headset microphone that will plug into the Xbox and allow online players to communicate with one another and control games using voice commands.
So, what's the deal? Is the Communicator for 'person to person' and 'person to computer' voice communication? And if it's both, what does that mean for vocal HCI?

Disclaimer: I own an Xbox, use Mac OSX as my main OS and work for AOL. So spend my two cents here how ever you want.

May 22, 2002 5:01 AM


Rueters says that "Nearly 60 pct of Web surfers plan to quit AOL." Maybe it's time for AOL to buy Adelphia since they seem to be going down hill fast but have a large subscriber base and have been actively upgrading their cable systems for bidirectional data services (read: internet access via cable modem). After all, what's another $19 billion in debt mean next to the recent $54 billion loss?

May 21, 2002 10:55 AM


A few weeks ago I decided to buy my tickets for the opening night of Star Wars via Moviefone. The site wasn't beautiful, perfectly easy to use, or memorable in anyway. But I did get my tickets without too much fuss, which is exactly what I wanted. The beauty of this process played out when I got to the theatre Thursday night. I was instructed by Moviefone to bring my credit card to the theatre, so I did, and handed it to the person in the ticket booth. She did the swipey thing, and a few seconds later, out came my tickets and a receipt, and I was on my way. No fuss, no muss.

May 20, 2002 8:51 AM


I've mentioned a few times in the past that MSFT is doing the loss leader thing with Xbox. Everyone knows it's going to cost them many many, MANY dollars over the next couple of years with each unit sold representing a loss of $100 or more. What does this add up to? 2 Billion Dollars. Now that sounds like a massive amount of money (it really is) but only represents small percentage of the CASH the MSFT has on hand, right now, or only one quarter's worth of profits.

May 19, 2002 10:49 AM


When responding to a question about what sort of machine to buy for web design work, someone on the WebDesign List wrote:


> I used a Powerbook (Lombard, not G4 model) during 3 months during a stint

> overseas and frankly, unless you are absolutely anal-retentive about exact

> color hues and the such (let's face it, total control on the web is an

> absolute oxymoron) it will do the job for you. If budget allows, you might

> want to compliment your laptop with an independent display

This is how I worked (as a Senior Interface Developer for an ebiz-web-app-consulting-custom-solutions-b2c-b2b company) for a couple of years. Having a Powerbook with a monitor attached to it makes for lots of extra desktop space which is vital for apps like Dreamweaver (which I actually don't use) and Adobe Illustrator.

Having a CRT and an LCD to view the site on allows me to make sure the site is looking good under both environments and being able to change the bit depth on each display, independently, allows me to catch most/all display environments.

Add in VirtualPC, and I can test multiple PC environments because I can set up as many virtual PC's as I want and install whatever OS's are important to me (based on the project in hand and the environment the end user will be in).

Just do yourself a favor and get the fastest Powerbook you can afford, and load up on the RAM. I've got a tiBook (550mhz with a half gig of ram) and it's still too slow (but when have you ever had a machine that was fast enough?).

May 18, 2002 1:41 AM


At 'Advance for Design' I read...

The tools of the experience designer lie in software, hardware, and the "wetware" of the human mind. The experience designer must combine the rigors of engineering with the inspiration of high art. He or she must become adept at the traditional skills of design, and engage in dialogue with the virtuosos in the world of social science, economics, architecture, theatre and the narrative arts.
...and I'm surprised to see a few things missing here. Everything is relative of course, and my perspective is similarly a perspective. However, I can't help but think that the list is hard coded to physical design that remains when the power is turned off. In the pervious paragraph I read...
Experience design embraces the fluid nature of media and transactions within the network. Experience design jumps into new dimensions--asking not only where, or how design happens, but WHEN design happens.
...which clearly speaks to the transient nature of the network mediated experience. I would suspect the point is that the traditional skills will at least assist the new media experience designer. But does the lack of a narrative transition between these two paragraphs scuttle that? I think so, simply because the two are not mutually exclusive and provide doors in an out of the related disciplines with and without crossing paths. I am proof.

*Must* I be adept at these traditional skills to be an experience designer? I hope not since I have no interest in designing physically represented 'stuff' for the sake of experience. Nor do I have the talent to make those 'things' look good. The network mediate experience, and WHY it is engaged in, and what a person (virtuoso or otherwise) hopes to gain from it is what I'm interested in.

So, *must* I converse with virtuosos? I hope not since these sorts of people don't typically travel in the circles that I do. Usually I find I have access to everyday people experiencing problems with the world they live in. To wit, I'd suggest that these people have more to offer me than the virtuoso.

May 14, 2002 12:10 PM


For the XBOX to maintain a second place position behind Sony's PlayStation2, uptake by PC gamers will need to match uptake by Gamecube buyers who are looking for the big franchise games (eg, Mario, Zelda, Metroid). And, IMHO, this is possible and likely for a couple key reasons.

Recently we've seen article after article saying how XBOX sales rates have been less than expected, and there are anecdotal (read: unofficial and biased) arguments that sales are very weak. Official numbers are slightly below expectations and the blame is placed on the Japanese market. That is to be expected and should be considered as a problem to be solved, not as a priority to focus all attention. One problem is the size of the XBOX, which is huge for a console, and the Gamecube is tiny, making it a far more desireable form factor for the Japanese market. The other thing is the previously mentioned franchise games which will further drive Gamecube sales over the PC game oriented XBOX.

The XBOX price cut is the first piece of the market share puzzle, and the second part will, as always, be the games available on the platform. Nintendo has these two pieces in place already, but lacks the vital third piece, network play. Both Microsoft and Sony say they will solve this part of their puzzles this summer. As far as I am concerned, Unreal Championship is the trump card for the launch of XBOX Online. Especially when you consider the following quote about Nintendo's online plans...

Nintendo thinks this is going to be a very small market for a while, and there's going to be a lot of experimentation to find the business model and just to find out if video gamers want to play online.
In my experience, there is a large market for online play that represent huge potential for long sessions times which can mean big numbers for advertisers or pay-per-use providers. If you ever log onto Tribes2, take a look at the amount of populated servers. Multiply that against the amount of online games (Quake 1, 2 and 3, Unreal Tournament, EverQuest, Ultima Online, Jedi Knight 2, Myth3, ad infinitum) and you will start to see critical mass. And you have to guess that Nintendo knows this, but is also very aware that their core audience is the consummate 'console gamer' where Microsoft will mostly likely attract PC gamers with more experience with online games, and more likely to go XBOX than Gamecube.

May 13, 2002 10:28 AM


If you do a comparison of "08" (zero and any integer, eight is our example here) with "8" in javascript, you will find that Internet Explorer will say they are the same, and that Mozilla will say they are different. So you have to do a parseInt() on a variable containing "08" to get a comparison to a variable containing "8" to return 'true'.

May 9, 2002 8:47 AM


What is war driving?
In the 1980s, hackers began "war dialing"--dialing phone numbers until they found an open modem--to access networks. The '90s Internet boom created easier and more direct avenues of attack, such as IP scanners and packet sniffers. Enter the next generation of nefarious network intrusion: war driving.
So?
...a hacker can sit in a store's parking lot and "listen in" to the data. Indeed, consumer electronics retailer Best Buy Co. shut off wireless cash registers at its stores Wednesday after being alerted to the potential problem, saying it was investigating the issue.
Ok, seriously, why do I care?
mail-savvy users will know that authentication can take place on *sending* mail, not just *receiving* mailboxes. The (Apple) mail app doesn't support encrypted SMTP
So if you use ANY app that sends passwords in cleartext, such as Mail from Apple, over a wireless link, someone might be listening. So, if you are like me and use Apple's Mail client, and have an Airport card installed, do yourself a favor and learn about SSH tunneling.

May 8, 2002 11:30 AM


The Apple World Wide Developers Conference started yesterday with the usual keynote from Steve Jobs. The most noteworthy things about the keynote were the announced death of MacOS 9 and the next revision of Mac OSX code named Jaguar. I won't go into the details here since they are covered quite well in many other places. But I will mention the irony of the Jaguar name.

First, I am sure the name Jaguar is supposed to elicit a feeling of speed and power. It sounds cool, but when I hear Jaguar, I think of the often maligned British Automaker with a widespread reputation of being unreliable and costly to own. Note: I find Mac OSX to be reliable. in fact, I find it to be VERY reliable in day to day work, with uptimes typically 10 times longer than what I experience in any version of classic MacOS. But the costly-to-own part is spot on, and SPEED is a major issue.

Why is that when I drag a window around the screen that my CPU utilization routinely spikes to 70% or more? Why is Jaguar slated to have many very cool looking new features in lieu of performance optimizations? I mean, iChat looks cool, but I have real work to do.

May 4, 2002 5:17 AM


If you've read this blog with any regularity, you probably know that I'm bandwidth challenged at home in spite of the fact that AOL, PSI Net, WorldCom, Verizon, Adelphia and Exodus Communications are all within 5 miles of my home. The suburb I live in is crawling with dot commers like myself. But there's no high speed access available. Until now.

One of my neighbors has set up a local wireless ISP utilizing a T1. I've sent him email in hopes I'll be able to connect to his network (I might be too far away). It's ironic that only a private citizen can offer my the best chance of getting anything better than 56k in a neighborhood dominated by knowledge workers.

May 3, 2002 4:11 AM


As uttered by Charles Cooper in a C|Net Perspectives article...

"Jakob Nielsen, who probably knows more about Web design than anybody else on planet Earth,"
Puhleeze. Jakob is a usability guy, not a web designer. He is a critique engine, not a web designer. He is a patent holding, self proclaimed guru of web usability, but he is not a web designer containing fountains of knowledge on the day to day struggles of web design. Does he know XSLT? Does he know about IMG-DIV-TD bug in Netscape 4.x? Does he know more about web design than guys like kottke, taylor or zeldman? I have my doubts.

May 2, 2002 8:37 AM


So, the CEO of Turner (JK) recently said the following to Cableworld...

JK: Because of the ad skips.... It's theft. Your contract with the network when you get the show is you're going to watch the spots. Otherwise you couldn't get the show on an ad-supported basis. Any time you skip a commercial or watch the button you're actually stealing the programming.

CW: What if you have to go to the bathroom or get up to get a Coke?

JK: I guess there's a certain amount of tolerance for going to the bathroom. But if you formalize it and you create a device that skips certain second increments, you've got that only for one reason, unless you go to the bathroom for 30 seconds. They've done that just to make it easy for someone to skip a commercial.

Now, take note that Turner is a part of AOL Time Warner, and that owns 1.1 million shares of preferred Tivo stock. Then, ask yourself the natural question, about what the hell is going on, and you will be where I am, confused.

May 1, 2002 5:00 AM


There's an interview with the Cheif Lizard at Mozilla.org which covers the vision behind the project and where they hope to go with it. I think the thing that I like about it is that the Gecko engine is being used in a lot of different places already, and that means cross platform development will be getting just a little bit easier. Chimera for the Mac, Galeon for Linux, Netscape for many platforms, all use Gecko, and makes the browser wars more than just a memory.
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