In which it is discovered that I am an idiot, albeit a funky one.

Color me careless, but slightly funkier: the RSS feed on the new Funky16Corners web site is, in fact, set up as a podcast, with proper enclosures and everything. You may want to subscribe if you have a yen for funk that tastes so good it like to make your tongue beat your brains out, as my pan-Southern uncle would say. (Well, not about funk, but anyway.)

Best track so far on today’s Funky16Corners Radio: “I’m Mr. Big Stuff (Big Deal),” the “answer” record to Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff” (of Burger King commercial fame).

Sox, Bruins, ESPN, and NASCAR talk IT

One of the more unusual panels this year at MIT Sloan’s CIO Symposium has some speakers who aren’t usually at IT conferences. We’ve pulled together the VP of Media Applications at ESPN, the Managing Director of IT for NASCAR, the VP of Technology and eBusiness for the Boston Bruins and TD Banknorth Garden, and the Director of IT for the Red Sox to talk about the Future of IT and Sports. Talk about mission critical: when the scoring system goes down, IT is facing mobs of angry fans along with their usual constituency. It should make for an interesting discussion.

As discussed previously, we also have a keynote from Google’s VP for Google Enterprise, so between discussions of consumer software in the enterprise and enterprise IT for sports it should be an interesting day. If you haven’t registered, there are still a few spaces available; though we’ve officially sold out, it’s still possible to register as a walk-in on the day of the event on a first-come, first-served basis. You can find us in Kresge Auditorium starting at 7:30 am on Wednesday, June 21. Hope you can make it!

A farewell to Gates

I haven’t said anything about Bill Gates’ announcement that he’ll be stepping out of day-to-day work over the next two years, yielding the chief architect reins to Ray Ozzie. Primarily it’s because my life has been pretty busy, but partly it’s because Gates has seemed, from the outside at least, like a non-factor in recent years. With Vista coming to market without big features like WinFS and several years overdue, and with Microsoft continuing to struggle to get customers to re-up for the newest versions of Office, it feels like Bill hasn’t had anything really new and compelling to show the market in a really long time.

Scott Rosenberg does a good job of connecting the dots in his supposition about Bill’s role in the Vista slip: on the one hand Bill had to watch as the scope of Vista was pared down and many revolutionary features were put aside, and on the other the culture that Bill and the Windows team had fostered meant that slips in the schedule were never acknowledged until it was far too late (thanks to Microsoft blogger Philip Su for some incisive and honest observations about the management culture in Windows).

My perspective from a greater distance is this: Bill and Steve Ballmer centralized Microsoft’s strategic decisions to an enormous degree, despite the generally broad operational freedom that individual product units enjoyed. And it’s not clear that that organizational move paid off. Might Microsoft be further along the path in dominating the enterprise software market—a place where the company does well with SQL Server and Exchange but has yet to make a splash with other business and IT apps despite years of investment—if the enterprise business had been able to duck the Windows tax? And by that, I mean the internal Windows tax that every business at Microsoft faces: every business has to show how it’s relevant to the corporate cash cow, and heaven forbid that the busines s plan suggests that the new initiative should embrace a multi-platform, multivendor view of the world instead of the Windows party line.

The result is that Gates rides off into the sunset as the champion of the desktop, but with many goals for Microsoft in the enterprise, on mobile devices, and in the home left unrealized. And with many users frustrated by years of vulnerabilities and diminishing returns.

Can Ray Ozzie turn this around? Maybe. He certainly has more enterprise cred than Bill. I’m not convinced that his vision is as broad as Bill’s, but that just might be a good thing for the long-term health of the company.

Misson of Burma in the Berkshires

Hat tip to reader Kate, the blogging intern at MASS MoCA, who commented on a recent post that unfrozen rockers Mission of Burma will be playing a gig at MassMoCA on Saturday, July 1:

Mission of Burma has an upcoming show you may want to check out. It’s at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), Saturday July 1 at 8:00 pm. It will be outdoors in Courtyard C if the weather permits, otherwise in the Hunter Center. Tickets are $22 advance, $26 day of show.

If you’re not familiar with MASS MoCA, it’s in North Adams, in northern Berkshire County. Directions are available on our website at

Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the box office, (413) 662-2111.

Normally I don’t really post commercial advertisements in this space, but hey, it’s Burma. Thanks to Kate for the info.

Friday Random 10: Sir Nose edition

So I get all jazzed up about Funkadelic and what does the iPod turn out for the Friday Random 10? With two exceptions, the most unfunky collection of tracks that never moved a booty. Somewhere Sir Nose is laughing. At least Gil Scott-Heron and the Felaesque Talking Heads track are holding him at bay.

  1. The Mendoza Line, “Throw It In the Fire” (Fortune)
  2. Gil Scott-Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (Evolution (And Flashback))
  3. Gemma Hayes, “Day One” (Night On My Side)
  4. Brodsky Quartet (Dmitri Shostakovich, composer), “String Quartet No. 12 in D flat Major: I. Moderato” (Shostakovich: String Quartets 11, 12, 13)
  5. Talking Heads, “Double Groove (unfinished outtake)” (Remain in Light)
  6. Paul Westerberg, “Looking Up in Heaven” (The Wired Cd)
  7. Robert Shaw Chorale, “Medley: Good Christian Men, Rejoice; Silent Night; Patapan; O Come, All Ye Faithful” (A Festival of Carols)
  8. Dave Brubeck Quartet, “Pick Up Sticks” (Time Out)
  9. R.E.M., “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” (Monster)
  10. My Computer, “Hole in the Road”

Standing on the verge of downloading

As if eMusic’s value proposition wasn’t already compelling (subscription prices as low as $0.22 a track, DRM-free 192bps MP3 downloads, a wide catalog of jazz, indie rock, and classical offerings), there’s now an even more compelling reason: many of the classic Funkadelic recordings on the Westbound label are now available for download from eMusic.

That includes the absolute masterpiece Maggot Brain, the fine self-titled album, the political party album America Eats Its Young, and the finest album title ever, Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, which features some really tasty Eddie Hazel guitar work as well as the stone classic “Jimmy’s Got a Little Bit of Bitch in Him.” Missing are Funkadelic’s earlier classic “Free Your Mind…And Your Ass Will Follow,” and the late “One Nation Under a Groove,” “The Electric Spanking of War Babies” and “Uncle Jam Wants You.”

There’s a lot to explore in what is there, though. Standing on the Verge and Maggot Brain alone should keep me occupied for weeks. Now if y’all will excuse me, I need to free my mind.

Apple store moves ahead, no Copy Cop whining expected Apple gets green light on Boston store plan. The store design, which was revised to overcome objections about how well the store would fit in with its Boylston St. neighbors, will feature interior stainless steel columns that divide the three-story glass facade into sections, which apparently is going to help the building blend in better. Hmm.

That’s OK by Copy Cop, the building’s current occupant, though; they already have a FAQ document for their customers about the move, though nothing on their blogs. (Yes, Copy Cop management has blogs…)

Google Books: Showing value but playing catch-up

I’ve defended Google Books in the past because I think it provides real value. To be able to search across books both in and out of print and offer links to purchase is important, and to be able to access out of print pieces of our cultural heritage on line is also valuable. In that light, I certainly think that Google’s decision to make parts of its Google Books corpus more visible, starting with the complete plays of Shakespeare, is a smart one; it provides some much needed visible value with which it can back up its arguments in favor of opt-out indexing, as Michael Arrington at TechCrunch points out.

My beef with their approach is that it doesn’t go far enough, and there are other offerings that go farther. Example: the Google Books Shakespeare page doesn’t offer an easy way to search across all the plays from the landing page. Even if you click into an individual play there is no Shakespeare-wide search. (Though I did appreciate the verisimilitude of a reader’s finger in the scan of the image on Page 6 of The Comedy of Errorshypocrite lecteur! —mon semblable!)

By contrast, the University of Virginia’s Electronic Text Center has a fully searchable version of the Globe Edition (1866) online, as well as transcriptions of the First Folio and a side-by-side comparison of the two editions, plus other critical resources assembled in one place on its Shakespeare page. And you can search Shakespeare in context of the rest of the Modern English collection, or within the scope of a given play. There are even ebooks, in multiple formats, for each of the Shakespeare plays.

I certainly see the technological differences between the two offerings (heck, I helped to put the Etext Center one together). For one thing, there are very few scanned images at the Etext Center, while with Google Books you get to see every page in context. For another, the Etext Center is finite while the stated scope of Google Books is infinite. But it seems to me that the Etext Center is doing far more with its limited resources than Google has done so far with its limitless resources.

(And yes, I’m aware that Google provides an advanced book search that allows searching across all books whose author is Shakespeare. But first, doing so exposes results from prefaces, does not de-duplicate across multiple editions of the book, and otherwise returns a lot of extratextual information of dubious usefulness. And second, Google could easily have exposed this as a scoped search on the front page and chose not to do so. What here they miss, their toil should strive to mend.)

A bronze for broken cherries

Looks like our own Cambridge Brewing Company brought home the bronze from the first annual Radical Beer Open. Their Cerise Cassée (“Broken Cherry”) took third place in the Category II (5.1 – 7.5%). The article says that the brewing process “begins with a 100% sour mash for three days. After primary fermentation, brewer Will Meyers adds 300 pounds of sour cherries and ignites a second fermentation with a Belgian abbey ale yeast. A third fermentation with several strains of Brettanomyces lasts nine months in French oak Pinot Noir barrels.” Sounds like it’ll be fantastic. Going to have to check that one out.

Welcome to the alumni club, Scoble

Boston Globe: Blogger who often rapped Microsoft will join a start-up. What a misleading headline. That’s like saying “Man who sent emails daily leaves company.” I saw Robert’s tweaking of Mr. Softie as an important part of his working to build credibility with tech influentials, the people whom Microsoft most needed to win over. If your employer does something stupid, and you are trying to model a behavioral pattern of honesty and transparency through public discourse, you don’t clam up, you call them on it. And Scoble did that, time and time again.

I appreciate Scoble’s honesty. A lesser man would have claimed credit for the groundswell of blogging that happened at the company during his tenure. Scoble wisely disclaims, “I’m not the only blogger at Microsoft. There are about 3,000 of them here. They are not having the plug pulled on them. They changed the world. I just was the cheerleader.” But by his very public risk taking, Scoble made the world safer for them against some old school Microsofties who wanted badly to take them down.

All of which is to say, it’s very odd that the Globe chose to print some random laptop-toting schmoe’s picture instead of Robert’s with the story. Too bad it’s not available on line. It gave me a good chuckle.

Blogaversary 5

As e.e. cummings once wrote, Is 5. He wasn’t talking specifically about my blog, but today, on its blogaversary, he might well be. It was five years ago today, during the summer of 2001, that I got the bug to start writing in this website I had set up, originally on UserLand’s service, and I haven’t stopped writing since.

Five years is pretty much forever in blog years, and my blog has started to show its age a little bit. It was last redesigned over two years ago, and the content hasn’t been nearly as compelling in my opinion recently. Part of this is that my job has been very demanding, which is of course a good thing, but over the last six months or so I’ve been lucky if I’ve blogged once a day.

Generally the issue for me is time. I have approximately negative two hours every day for thought, and it’s really making my writing suffer. I hope that next month when I am on some of my retreats with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus to spend some time writing and thinking about my writing and figure out the direction I need to go with the writing.

In the meantime, I think the one thing that will likely stay on the blog is my music writing. Just as soon as I find time to write a couple reviews that I owe for BlogCritics.

But you know, it hasn’t been such a bad five years, as a brief look back over other blogaversaries shows:

  • 2002: “Hard to believe that it was a year ago today that I started this weblog in earnest. At the time I certainly didn’t think I’d stick to it; the title (“Quarterly Update (i)”) indicated a certain… lack of optimism.”
  • 2003: “Since my first blogaversary, graduating from business school, moving 3000 miles, and buying a house, the blog has been a lot less technical and hopefully a little more human (apologies to those for whom either prospect is daunting).’
  • 2004: “I was just getting ready to lament that I hadn’t done so much technology blogging this year, but I really don’t know that I missed it too much.”
  • 2005: “Dear blog, sorry I forgot our blogaversary. Yes, I know you’re mad. This is the second year in a row I forgot …”

Okay, so maybe not the most illuminating tour. Perhaps I’ll just shut up and start working on the next post.