February 2002 Archives
yesterday, i blogged a story about the tangled web of interrelated deals among the Friends of Gary (Winnick). funnily enough the Washington Post carried a story that featured a lot of the same names. apparently, the SEC's taking a close look at whether Global Crossing deliberately inflated revenue reports while its executives sold $480 million in stock. David Lee and Barry Porter (who have figured in a subsequent Gary Winnick deal involving PrimeCo Wireless) managed to unburden themselves of around $40 million-worth each.
granted, this is chicken-feed compared to Gary himself, who netted $280 million in the same period. (via GMSV)
my friend Joey has a fun-to-read rant cum response ("rantsponse"?) to the NARAS's most recent yaddayadda about file sharing. by the way, did anyone notice that the NARAS/GRAMMY(TM) site is hosted by AOL? that wouldn't be the AOL that's a unit of AOL Time Warner, sister company to the Warner Bros. record label and TV and movie studios, would it?
AOL's corporate parent is a part-owner of the MusicNet joint venture, a label-owned competitor to Napster and other digital music distribution services. AOL's corporate siblings are some of MusicNet's most critical content providers, and that AOL is one of MusicNet's key licensees. that makes NARAS look kind of like a shill, doesn't it?
anyway, that's not what i'm writing about. at the end of his piece, i get thrown into Joey's recommended reading list, which is nice. then Joey asks (in a "Memo to George") that i capitalize the starts of my sentences because, as he says, " The e.e. cummings / archy-and-mehithabel (sic) thing is pretty old."
memo to Joey: suck it.
the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is holding hearings on digital content copyright protection (as well as broadband roll-out and the transition to digital television). the scheduled panellists include Disney's CEO Michael Eisner, News Corp COO Peter Chernin, Intel's Leslie Vadasz, Andy Bechtolsheim (ex-of Sun, now at Cisco), James Meyer (former COO of Thomson Multimedia), and Robert Perry of Mitsubishi Digital.
so. the government, two gigantic content distributors, two consumer electronics manufacturers (one of whom owns a substantial MPEG/MP3 patent portfolio), a router company, and a chip company are getting together to debate your rights as a content consumer. sounds like a job for the EFF. (via c|net)
update: the Register has its version of the hearings. call me biased, but it sounds about right: consumers and citizens should be treated like crooks, and unfathomably wealthy copyright merchants are victims who need government-mandated tools to audit your personal use of intellectual property.
...and because O'Reilly understands that balance is important in the universe, you might find this overview of web services from a .NET perspective instructive. for a little more depth, check out these .NET web services examples by Brian Jepson. (via O'Reilly Network)
(as you can see, i'm catching up on some stuff i've been meaning to post. i guess that's a blogjam)
three of the the bill's most important provisions essentially allow the Baby Bells to offer long distance services without first opening their local markets to competition (a key provision of the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act), frees them of the legal obligation to lease parts of their fiber networks to competitors, and allows them to set prices for wholesale data services to rivals while exempting DSL from state utility commission oversight.
in other words, they can offer more complete phone and data packages than their competitors while legally pricing their broadband competition (like Covad or your local ISP) out of business. all this looks like the final nail in the coffin of competitive DSL, so expect to see the Baby Bells buying the hard-won (and expensive) assets of their broadband competitors for pennies on the dollar. (via SiliconValley.com)
the ugly mess around Global Crossing gets, well, uglier and messier. it seems that the previously-reported cross-ownership shell games played by Gary Winnick and the government of Singapore's investment corporations are even more intricate than we had imagined.
Winnick and partner Steven Green (who, incidentally, is the United States' former ambassador to Singapore and a former director of Asia Global Crossing) bought partnerships in a Singapore investment firm called K1 Ventures. K1 Ventures is a unit of Temasek Holdings, the Singapore government investment vehicle that also controls Singapore Technologies Telemedia. STT (along with Hutchison Whampoa) has a $750 million offer on the table to buy Global Crossing.
but wait. there's more.
K1 Ventures also made a recent $14 million investment in wireless company PrimeCo Wireless Communications. one of PrimeCo's owners? you got it: Gary Winnick, this time through his Pacific Capital Group investment company. in other words, Gary was on both the buying and selling side of the PrimeCo deal. Gary's a generous fellow, though, and other Global Crossing directors had a seat at the PrimeCo table.
at the time of the K1 investment, PrimeCo was also owned by the completely inappropriately-named Clarity Partners. Clarity's investment team includes David Lee (a Global Crossing founder and former managing director of Pacific Capital), Barry Porter (a Global Crossing founder and former managing director of Pacific Capital), Clinton Walker (a former Global Crossing and Pacific Capital vice president), and Andrew Howard (who worked for Barry Porter at Global Crossing). PrimeCo's ownership also included Trimaran Capital Partners. two of Trimaran's principals (Jay Bloom, and Dean Kehler) are former directors of Global Crossing. the other Trimaran principal, Andrew Heyer, is also a partner in the Argosy Group, an affiliate of CIBC (another major beneficiary of Global Crossing). finally, as if to put a bow on the whole stinking package, JP Morgan Partners was also a part of the PrimeCo posse. that's right, the same JP Morgan that lent Global Crossing money (and is now in line with the other creditors) and the same JP Morgan that handled investment banking for Global Crossing was also in bed with Winnick on this closely-related side-deal. (via NY Times)
"No one is going to use such services," Mr. Jobs said. "If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own."(via the WSJ -- paid subscription required)
featuring what has to be the most redundant headline since "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead", the AP is has a story entitled "Starbucks Hopes to Expand in 2002".
now that New Economy poster child Buy.com has been reunited with notorious greed-head founder and (erstwhile CEO) Scott Blum, they've finally hit upon the strategy to lift them out of their disastrous death-spiral: start a free magazine that highlights crap you can buy on their web site.
bravo. they've invented the Sharper Image catalog.
i guess this is what they mean when they say that "Scott Blum epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit and has defined the role of a business leader in the information economy." either that, or they're talking about the time Blum and the SEC signed a consent agreement that closed an investigation of his accounting practices while at Pinnacle Micro (which subsequently went bankrupt in late 2000). (via c|net)
good old solid-blue IBM has published a comparison of WebSphere Studio Application Developer and Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET in the WebSphere Developer Technical Journal (i read it for the pictures). it's a pretty even-handed look at the two developer tools, and at the tradeoffs involved with the two vendors' approaches to web services. (via WebServices.org)
Monday's Washington Post featured a letter from MPA warhorse Jack Valenti. after some ranting about the "movie industry [being] under siege by a small community of professors", Valenti gets to the meat of the MPA's position:
The reason pitifully few films are legitimately available on the Internet is not producer hoarding. It is that those valuable creative works can't be adequately protected from theft. The analog format (videocassettes) and the digital format (DVDs) are different. Videocassette piracy costs the movie industry worldwide more than $3.5 billion, even though the sixth or seventh copy of analog becomes unwatchable. But the thousandth copy of digital is as pure as the original. Moreover, digital movies on the Internet can be pilfered and hurled at the speed of light to any spot on the planet. This is what gives movie producers so many Maalox moments.this statement -- that inadequate technology and not producer hoarding is at the core of Hollywood's problem -- is completely at odds with established movie distribution practice. "producer hoarding" is the key to the movie distributor's business model.
when a movie is released, it's "windowed" first to the theaters, then to the pay-per-view market, then to the airlines and hotels, then to rental and retail, then to cable, and finally to broadcast. each step is an incremental relaxation of artificial scarcity driven by nothing more than business models. it's also worth remembering that this orthodoxy came only after Hollywood was forced to accept the technological shocks of first television and then the VCR -- both of which were regarded as detrimental to the movie business' interests.
the MPA needs to take a page from their compatriots in the entertainment software business (or even the software business in general) -- the only intellectual-property-based industry that's been digital from day one. every CD of Unreal Tournament can spawn a perfect illegal copy, yet nearly four million legitimate copies have been sold to date. without aid of unbreakable copy protection (and with pretty routine anti-piracy efforts), the entertainment software market has grown steadily. why shouldn't the MPA's members be able to do the same? (via the Reg)
i won't bore you with the details, but Microsoft's getting deeper into the enterprise applications business starting with customer relationship management (CRM). given the raw materials they had lying around (Great Plains, bits and pieces of .NET, bCentral, etc), it's not a big surprise.
BEA is opening another front in the web services battle. with the introduction of WebLogic Workshop, BEA attempts to be the first to bring Visual Basic-like ease of development to the J2EE-speaking world. given that the way to a corporate developer's heart is through his IDE, it's the right move -- make a developer's life easier, and you'll have a friend for life.
the real question is whether a fragmented, multi-vendor approach will be effective against the vertically-integrated Visual Studio .NET? in a way, Microsoft has chosen to play Apple to the Java camp's WinTel consortium. Microsoft's delivering a soup-to-nuts web services story where everything is supposed to work because it's all lovingly overseen by one vendor, while companies like BEA are fighting their J2EE brethren (like Sun). (via c|net)
JP Morgan Chase is taking another swift kick in their
assets nuts -- this time from their dealings with Global Crossing. the bank foolishly allowed Global Crossing to pledge stock in subsidiaries rather than physical assets against loans. since that stock is now worthless, JP Morgan Chase (and many other Wall Street banks) are now forced to line up with other vultures trade-creditors for their hunk of the Global Crossing carcass.
clearly, JP Morgan got fast-talked like a hayseed on his first trip to New York. the complexity of Global Crossing's corporate and capital structures make a perfect smoke screen for the kind of three card monte that Gary Winnick excels at. (via NY Times)
the circle of hell that is Enron just keeps getting wider. in addition to Andersen, the White House, and both major political parties, now JP Morgan Chase is getting sucked into the vortex. JP Morgan Chase's insurers are refusing to pay $1 billion in claims related to the bank's Enron dealings, alleging that JP Morgan Chase disguised loans as trades to help Enron conceal its debts. (via NY Times)
the US Federal Court has partially opened the files of the Microsoft anti-trust case to the media. tapes and transcripts from the depositions of Steve Ballmer, Jim Allchin, Jim Barksdale, Mitchell Kertzman, and Scott McNealy by the nine hold-out states will be made available to media outlets.
this sounds like the worst Fox special ever made.
"When Tech Execs Go Bad"
"When Millionaires Get Deposed"
"When TV Gets Dull"
"Survivor 3.0: Federal Court"
it's like Enron or Global Crossing done right. the Baby Bells (through the US Telecommunications Association) have already managed to rig the FCC's two-week-old nationwide broadband push decidedly in their favor. now analysts, the press, consumers, and smaller ISPs are predicting that the future of residential broadband will be dominated by a telco/cable company duopoly. (via AP)
why is .NET so important to Microsoft's future? because the variety of devices connected to the internet is set to explode and the PC -- the center of Microsoft's universe -- is going to be outnumbered on the net. the Economist takes a look at the flip-side of this phenomenon: how Microsoft is trying to make a play in game consoles and mobile phones.
in addition to spelunking through the innards of various web logging tools and scripting some XML-RPC utilities of my own, i've taken the time to give blogaritaville a makeover (as you may have noticed). i confess to having borrowed liberally from Jason Kottke, and i'm using his excellent Silkscreen typeface in the site's title graphic and for my navigation headers on the right of the page.
i've detoured from Blogger, to Radio, to MovableType, to Apache, to Perl, to Greymatter, to XML-RPC, to AppleScript Studio. perhaps it's not so much a detour as a descent into madness -- lightweight, single-user content management is not for the faint of heart. once you start scratching at the surface of the problem you're in danger of being overwhelmed by just how many ways there are to skin this particular feline.
i should never have asked "why do i need all this stuff in Radio, anyway (i have a web server and several scripting frameworks)?"
one small step for Mac OS X, one giant leap for Mac OS X users. REALbasic developer James Sentman has released beta 2 of acgi dispatcher. now Apache can invoke AppleScripts and Apple Event-aware (i was going to link those, but i got lazy) applications via CGI. bridging Apache and AppleScript is a crucial step for those of us coming from a more traditional Mac OS background: it brings me closer to never having to look at Perl ever again.
Perl makes the Baby Jesus cry.
an amusing dispatch from the Reg's Andrew Orlowski reporting from BSDCon. besides an attempt to bribe Apple developers to kill the Dock (hey, i like the Dock), Andrew elicits some interesting details on the Darwin core of Mac OS X.
Tinnef Software's Text Wielder lets you build your own Mac OS X services for text manipulation. Text Wielder's Simple Find and Replace Language (SFRL) combines regular expression searching with Java Server Page-based output manipulation.
frankly, i think AppleScript might have made a better choice for output manipulation, but the idea of easily creating application services for applications that don't provide their own services (like Radio) is a worthy one.
first, they lead up to the QuickTime Live conflab with the news that QuickTime was downloaded 80 million times in the last year (compared to 75 million downloads for RealPlayer or RealOne in the same period). next, they unveil the details behind QuickTime 6. finally, the zinger: Apple -- a company that can add 220,000 new MPEG-4 users a day -- won't release QuickTime 6 (at least with MPEG-4 support) until MPEG LA drops their per-streaming-minute licensing fee.
i'm taking a perverse pleasure in seeing Apple throw their weight around, especially since there's no doubt that any streaming fee imposed on a content provider (say, CNN) is going to get passed onto you and me (with the requisite mark-up).
the arrival of VS .NET is an important milestone in establishing a leader in web services from among the big players. Microsoft has been developing a clear, cohesive picture of the elements involved in building web services and now its delivering on the key pieces. while others can argue that Microsoft was late to the game, it looks to me like they're successfully setting the terms of the debate -- bad news for their competition.
today marks the final release of Visual Studio .NET. Microsoft's web site (and i'm not kidding) says:
Visual Studio .NET
The future is here.
Start building now.
you've got your marching orders, now go!
according to the LA Times, Fox, Universal, and MGM are suing Sonicblue on the basis that your convenience is detrimental to their ability to make a fast buck.
"If a ReplayTV customer can simply type 'The X-Files' or 'James Bond' and have every episode of 'The X-Files' and every James Bond film recorded in perfect digital form and organized, compiled and stored on the hard drive of his or her ReplayTV 4000 device, it will cause substantial harm to the market for prerecorded DVD, videocassette and other copies of those episodes and films."
i hope the studios are ready to sue Gemstar and my cable company. i can already search and program my cable box to tune into every episode of a show, and (with a $5 cable) my cable box can also drive my VCR.
Q: What's your impression of Apple Computer's latest iMac?
A: It's a warmed-over Mach (kernel)...The technology didn't blow me away.
interesting answer. it's a non sequitur -- the question was about the iMac, but the answer appears to be about Mac OS X -- but it demonstrates what gave Jim his mane of prematurely white hair: he sees UN*X everywhere.
c'mon, Jim, we all know Win 2K is just warmed-over VMS.
my cocktail napkin math tells me that the combined take for Enron and Global Crossing execs is north of $2 billion (and counting), while the (now-former) CFO of Nortel fell on his sword for about $165,000 in poorly-timed trades.
standards and interoperability, while not the same thing, are closely related (you don't need standards for interop, but it helps). this is probably why the establishment of the WS-I group is being seen by some as a symbol of frustration on the part of the major web services vendors with the W3C.
a c|net article features analysts and smaller software vendors criticizing the web standards body for focusing on initiatives like the semantic web while ignoring web services. it also boasts a juicy quote from Tim Bray:
"The hype merchants are out of control on this one," said Tim Bray, a member of the nine-member Technical Architectural Group for steering W3C strategy. "I think that 'Web services' in general is at least as experimental and unproven as the Semantic Web."
i think Tim's wrong.
the billion-dollar hissyfit that is the penalty phase of the Microsoft antitrust trial features Oracle today. Reuters reported a Microsoft filing that complained of Oracle's involvement in guiding the hold-out states' hand in drafting remedy proposals.
anyone remember Oracle's attempt to crack into the browser market?
a simple, free (as in "free beer") way to reduce Dock clutter and give you quicker access to your apps is to take the "Applications" folder from your Finder directory view and drag it into the your Dock. now you can Control-click, mouse down, or (for multi-button mouse users) right-click on the Applications folder icon in your Dock for access to your applications.
while Blogger appears to be down, i've had time to ponder the question: is there any way to rig Radio's categories to update a specific blogger-based blog when you're not the administrator? for example, i want to mirror all of my Mac OS X stories to FA:OSX, as well as posting them to Radio blogaritaville.
my guess: the answer is "hell, yeah." my mission: to figure out how. if you're feeling helpful, you can let me know what you'd do.
RMS can't draw a breath without pulling out the knives for the "open source movement". in this note to the Register -- ostensibly to correct the misconception that RMS is at loggerheads with Miguel de Icaza over Mono -- things are moving along nicely until the last three paragraphs.
the Trotskyite revanchists will get theirs, i'm sure.
Sun's recent embrace of Linux (here's c|net's version of events) is remniscent of SGI's capitulation to Intel and Windows NT/2K for their low-end workstation and server products. that move took SGI from a value proposition based on deep R&D into one where they became just another OEM bundling outfit. that strategy was corrisive enough to cause SGI to abandon it for the comfort of their old IRIX/MIPS redoubt, from which they are currently fighting their last stand.
Sun's Linux strategy cedes the low-end to Intel-based Linux appliances while they hang their hats on a scalability advantage built on the combination of SPARC and Solaris. with the combined efforts and resources of Intel and the Linux community, i can't see that advantage lasting. the only variable left is the support of application vendors like Oracle and SAP, and we already know where Larry's placing his bets.
don't even get me started on the damage that IBM, newly-imbued with Linux religion, is going to inflict on Sun.
Microsoft has released a security update for Microsoft Office v. X, but it's not clear if it's related to the malformed PID announcement issue.
in an effort to prevent piracy, Microsoft Office v. X applications check the local network to find other instances of Office running with the same PID. Adobe has long used a similar strategy.
although i find the headline "Sun details plans for Linux servers" slightly misleading (more like "Sun offers inscrutable advance notice of something Linux-y down the road"), the article itself is an interesting glimpse of the difficult finesse Sun has to employ around the issue of Linux. it's hard to laud an OS in the same breath you use to dismiss it, but that's exactly what Sun's trying to do.
according to SiliconValley.com (and the US Department of Justice), over 30,000 public comments were submitted regarding the Microsoft anti-trust action. about ten percent are considered "substantive" while the rest have been categorized as opinion, spam, or pornographic.
while Dave Winer sees danger in Mono (he essentially says that a diversity of frameworks is better than a single dominant framework), i can't see where activity on Mono prevents competing, equivalent web services frameworks from being developed.
for all the economic malaise, it was a good year to build your business on the disposable income of Americans. market research group NPD is reporting that 2001 was a record-breaking year for the interactive entertainment industry, with total sales hitting $9.4 billion.
Reuters sets the scene for Monday's preliminary hearing of BT's case against Prodigy. BT is claiming that it holds the patent on hyperlinking. others, like Ted Nelson and
FordMicrosoft, quality is job one.
according to a c|net interview with Steve Ballmer, "...we really have to work on these trust and quality issues. I'd really put that as job one....It's trust and quality, trust and quality."
can you do "trust and quality" in 4/4 time (i think it can be set to the tune of "Love and Marriage")?
c|net (and just about everybody else) is reporting that Microsoft, IBM, Intel, and BEA Systems are forming a web services standards organization. the Web Services Interoperability Organization is also rumored to number Sun, Oracle, and TIBCO in their member.
maybe it's an over-simplification, but the greater the commitment to standards (like SOAP, XML-RPC, UDDI, WSDL, etc), the better it is for all web services players (vendors, developers, and users).
while spelunking through Google results (i was trying to figure out how many of Enron's leadership were McKinsey & Co alumni like Jeffrey Skilling), i ran across this CFO Magazine article singing the praises of then Enron CFO Andrew Fastow. fascinating reading -- the unintended dramatic irony of some of the statements is priceless.
i get nervous when i hear the technology marketing weenies talking about what they have planned for my living room. case in point: this c|net article describing Macromedia's deal with Microsoft TV to "add" Flash "capability" to their products for interactive television.
according to Macromedia veep Peter Meechan, Flash allows "for these devices to have a rich, consumer-engaging experience with a really familiar interface."
finally, a rich, consumer-engaging experience and a really familiar interface for my TV. thank you, Macromedia.
odd story from the CBC about infamous gold-medal-winning snowboarder Ross Rebagliati's trouble at the Canadian/US border. it appears that Rebagliati was denied entry to the US due to his admitted drug use, which is clearly identified as one of the many criteria INS agents can use to determine whether or not to admit someone to the US.
by the way, here's a picture of Ross from his appearance four years ago on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno:
according to a Wall Street Journal story about web services, Gartner analyst Mark Driver is boldly predicting that "80% of e-business applications...will soon be built with Microsoft or Java technology."
i boldly predict that over 90% of those applications will be deployed on "computers."
bankruptcy, whistle-blowers, Andersen, and possible accounting irregularities? the story of Global Crossing gets better and better.
"When it comes to .NET they've done a really outstanding job."
what kind of sell-out-Redmond-apologist would say such a thing? try Miguel de Icaza -- the man behind the GNOME project (and Ximian -- its commercial offspring). Miguel is also spearheading the Mono project to "clone" the .NET development framework. here he tells the Register why he wants to see GNOME built on Mono/.NET.
since GNOME is a rough equivalent of the Windows development framework, it seems logical enough that the developer-centric improvements in .NET (things like language independence and better deployment mechanisms) would be interesting to the GNOME crew.
we'll have to come up with a law that determines the rate at which Moore's Law must be accelerated. according to the New York Times the increase in chip speed is gaining pace, rather than slowing down.
if it's Monday, it must be Enron.
recent events have the release an independent review of Enron's practices (damning of Enron, its board, its management, and its auditor), former CEO Ken Lay refusing to appear before Congress, and Andersen hiring former Fed chair Paul Volcker to "review its practices". it's all tidily summed up in this piece from the Economist.
the New York Times has uncovered tigers roaming the New York region:
Experts say there are about 10,000 privately owned tigers in the United States, dwarfing the 200 or so kept by zoos for display and species propagation.
incidentally, that's also more than live in the wild in Asia.
the Reg is concerned that Napster (an "independent" partner of media giant Bertelsmann), desperate to get back to business, might not take advantage of the opportunity to dig into the issue of whether the labels' copyright extends to the digital world.
would we be any further along if companies like Napster had digital copyright to music? where are the fully-recouped artists (and their sub-industry of managers, lawyers, and agents) in this? Metallica -- i'm looking at you.