Archive for July, 2008

Quite possibly, the best Bleat ever.

July 19, 2008

Lileks nails it.  A quadruple axel with three backflips AND he sticks the landing.

It wouldn’t sound odd coming from a Marxist critic of religion, but it does sound peculiar coming from the head of a church. As for the imposition of religious identity to serve the interest of empire, at least we know now why India turned into a totally Christian nation in the 19th century. That one has bothered me for a long time.

Blowin’ in the Wind

July 2, 2008

Bret Stephens nails it. If it’s science, then the evidence should be compelling and unambiguous.  Consensus should build over time and dissenters should recognize the error of their previous position as continuing studies reinforce what has been observed.

Unfortunately, we all know that isn’t the case. It is right to be concerned about the effects of man’s action on the planet; particularly because it’s the only one we’ve got at the moment. The law of scarcity with respect to planets that can sustain human life that we have the technology to reach means that we must be cognizant of our footprints, carbon included; but this has moved far beyond any level of rational debate.

The true believers have said that there is no room for discussion.  I say we take them at their word and don’t talk to them about it until they come to their senses.

Goodbye Chairman Bill (sung to Candle in the Wind)

July 1, 2008

Matt Asay made an excellent point about Gates departure from Microsoft. It’s largely irrelevant because Gates could no longer ensure that one of the crown jewels was protected. The unmitigated disaster that is Vista proves this to be true. If Gates could still control MS, then he wouldn’t be leaving the company with Windows in such sad shape. Do you really think he would have retired after releasing ME if there were no XP to follow?

MS has three or four profitable product lines. Windows, Office, the Macintosh Business Unit, and backend technologies (tools and servers). Of those, the two that everybody recognizes are Windows and Office. MS has been reduced to publicizing the OEM sales of Vista as proof of its popularity; which is to say proof of its unpopularity.

Most users have been satisfied with Office since version 2000 if not 97. The most significant innovation of Office 2007, the ribbon, has met with mixed reviews at best. I have read several comparisons of the Mac version of Office vs. the Windows version that argued in favor of the Mac implementation because it does not feature the ribbon interface.

MS is in a very many ways the victim of their own success right now. They can’t really fix Windows because doing so would break compatibility for a lot of applications. They don’t have the freedom to make serious online innovations that might endanger their Office franchise, largely because of pressure from Wall street. There are certainly worse problems to have than how to deal with too much success for too long, but there can be no denial that there are problems of long standing that are becoming much harder to ignore.

No one who has led a company for that long wants to leave on a low note, but there are no highs to be had at Microsoft in the near future. This pathetic play for Yahoo reminds me of two things that are related. The first is the classic example of dinosaurs mating. The second is IBM’s acquisition of Lotus. IBM wanted Lotus for Notes which was a very popular collaboration platform at the time. IBM was able to consummate the deal, but it was the epitome of a pyrrhic victory. By the time they had incorporated Notes into their product strategy, Windows NT and Exchange server had won.

MS is trying to buy market share for the second time in this arena. It won’t work any better this time and will only serve as a distraction from any genuine innovation that could be developed from within. Gates is very smart and very shrewd. Don’t think for a minute that he doesn’t care about his legacy in business. He wouldn’t leave under these circumstances if he thought staying around for three more years would make a difference and let him leave on top. He might be willing to stage a white knight comeback in the future to save the company, but I don’t think he wants to be anywhere near this turkey for the next few years.

EDIT: Should have linked to Cringely as well.