Pay day is yay day!!

Thank God for payday. Context: I started work on July 8 and got paid for the first time today. Not normally a big deal, but a bit of a stretch if you’ve bought a house and had work done to it, bought a car, and moved across country (not necessarily in that order). I’m not normally a guy who freaks out about money, but today is good.

To quote Beck (whose discography and lyrics section is currently down in his own website; shame):

We like to ride on executive planes

We like to sit around and get real paid

Word to your moms.

IBM: Saving us from Monday:

NY Times: IBM to Purchase Consulting Group for $3.5 billion. I think that’s a little more realistic than the $18 billion PwC would have gone for in 2000, had HP bought them.

A drought in the services industry is an interesting time to go shopping for additional consulting capacity. On the one hand, the capacity is cheap, and may come with a decent roster of clients to tap for more business. On the other hand, it’s an almost certain signal of layoffs at both the purchased and the purchaser as the org structures get rationalized.

Still, I’m glad IBM picked up PwC. It saves me the trouble of suing them when they change their name to Monday:. After all, this weblog has been Jarrett House North: for quite a while, marking prior art in the innovative use of the colon in branding and titling. (Okay, so it’s just because I’m too lazy to add another title to this page of links, since each post is titled. But bear with me, OK?)

Feedback on Ziff Davis

A few people have followed up on my Ziff Davis article from yesterday since Doc linked to it. Brian Buck argues that many of us who are playing armchair pundit on the apparent impending bankruptcy are missing the point: Ziff Davis had weak fundamentals to begin with, including massive debt loads and questionable judgement toward gifts to insiders (including slashing strike prices for exec stock options by $10 in September 1999).

But I think Brian’s objection about ZD’s health bears out my point. The Business Week article that he points to confirms that even during the boom years, computer magazines were in an ad slump. Ziff Davis is the canary in the coal mine: weakened from heavy debt loads dating back to its LBO, it is now ready to keel over. Is Ziff Davis in bad shape only because of its ad-based revenue model? No. But it hasn’t been able to pull out from under its debt load precisely because its ad revenue stream has been drying up.

God help me

So… Is my Blog HOT or NOT?

(he asked, knowing full well that if you have to ask, you already know the answer)

Update: So I feel so bad over having posted that, I’m going to have a stab at justifying HotOrNot. It’s…a distributed polling system. Oooh, oooh! Better! It’s a distributed reputation evaluation system that is destined to do what startups like OpenRatings once promised: give instant notification of the credentials of the ratee, thus restoring trust to the Internet experience!

Can I go shower now, please? I feel unclean. 🙂

George vs. Mung

In the spirit of publicizing grass roots word creation: George vs. mung.

2 casts and about 10 pounds of mung later, I called it quits. I am still trying to find a definition of Mung, but it seems to be what locals call the weeds out in the water on the Cape.

Of course the OED thinks “mung” is “mong” (“A mingling, mixture”) or “moong” (“Either of two legumes, native to India, the seeds of which are an important food”). Which means that George and the Cape locals should get credit for a new usage of the word: “bay scum that tangles your lines and ruins your fishing.”

A new framework for tech strategy

Doc Searls pulls it all together in this presentation for the O’Reilly Open Source Conference. Some really sound points about the fundamentally open nature of infrastructure, and why Hollywood doesn’t understand it. The payoff slides start here, situating the proprietary-open vs. public-private matrix on the boundary between commerce and infrastructure. This is a valuable extension of some serious technology strategy thoughts. Doc ought to collaborate with Rebecca Henderson on a publication.

Update: Doc points out in an email that Craig Burton should share credit for these slides. Apparently there may be a book in the works…

The death of advertising?

New York Times: Ziff Davis is said to plan a bankruptcy. The once powerful media giant, whose magazines I (and every other computer user my age) once avidly, avariciously consumed, is about ready to pull a Worldcom.

It’s been a tough year in the ad business. A lot of corporations, spanked by the downturn or their own problems, just don’t have the money to spend on advertising. As a result, a lot of businesses that depend on it get wobbly. Some go under. It’s happened to quite a few places on the Web–places that decided that they would give away products or content and “monetize eyeballs.”

Yeah, we all laughed when people said this back in the .com era. But what about players like Ziff Davis? Hey, monetizing eyeballs was all they ever did. Computer magazines–just a convenient, foldable billboard for advertisers.

There’s something particularly ironic about the Ziff Davis case. As Ziff Davis was busy puffing new hardware and software offerings, and writing little lightweight pieces about web sites that contained free software you could download for your new hardware, something much more powerful was coming from that web. Companies were figuring out how to expose their content to users more directly than through ads.

And the users? They were figuring out that a lot of this new stuff was being made up on the fly. Some of them got savvy enough to help make it up themselves.

In other words, Ziff Davis got disintermediated. By the Internet.

That’s a hell of a thing. The very thing that all the .coms claimed to be doing has started to happen–after they all crashed.

And it’s not just publishing. Look at the assholery being spouted by Jamie Kellner of TNN. Would he say that if TV commercials weren’t being choked into irrelevance? If TV ads served any useful purpose to TV watchers, there would be no need for him to proclaim any “contract” that TV watchers were “violating” by skipping commercials. No, the TV audience, known more familiarly as you and me, are also Internet users. And they’ve shown all the guys dreaming up “synergy” business plans between the Internet and TV where the real synergies are. It’s in the minds of the users.

See, the TV audience, who are also Internet users, have learned things from the Internet. They’ve always known TV commercials are, in the parlance of the Net, damage. Now they’ve learned from the Internet how to route around that damage.

Who mourns for advertising?

Update: Doc kindly pointed back to this article.

A new car in the driveway that’s almost mine

Right now there is a new “Reflex Silver” Volkswagen Passat sitting in my driveway. It’s not the one I bought yesterday, though.

I had a great experience through most of the buying experience with this dealer, who shall remain nameless. The woman who followed up my request through Autobytel, M., was extremely helpful and very low pressure, but persistent, and I finally got myself around to the dealership yesterday afternoon. I decided that the standard 1.8 liter turbo four-cylinder engine would do just fine for us, and called Lisa so she could help me decide between cloth and leather seats. After deciding that the leather seats had perceptibly better upper back and neck support for Lisa, we did the paperwork, returned the Company Rental Car (the Alero is a fine vehicle, but I was ready to see the end of it), and were ready to go.

This is where we hit the snag. Sitting in the “Reflex Silver” Passat GLS that we settled on, M. walked us through the controls. Showing me the instrument cluster, she said, “And here is the windshield wiper control.” She clicked it and a blade went across the windshield. “Huh,” I said. “I didn’t know the Passat had a single wiper like the Volvo and Mercedes do.”

She said, “Oh my god! Where’s the other blade?” Somehow along the way to the lot, someone had broken off the wiper arm near the motor. Unfortunately, the dealership shop was already closed for the weekend. M. was embarrassed, apologetic. Could they give us a loaner car until Monday and pay for us to have dinner out?

We reluctantly assented—I had been looking forward to driving off the lot in my first new car since I sold my Golf in 2000. We got out of my car and looked at it. Forlornly. Then M. pulled up in another reflex silver Passat—a top of the line W8. The owner’s current show model. Would this do?

It would do nicely. We hopped in, dropped Lisa’s car at home, and headed for Etta’s. Oysters on the dealer!!! 🙂

Why not just give them your front door key?

AP (in the New York Times): In a stunning show of proof that idiocy knows no party line, “Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif., formally proposed legislation that would give the industry unprecedented new authority to secretly hack into consumers’ computers or knock them off-line entirely if they are caught downloading copyrighted material.”

Under the provisions of the bill, there would be little or no legal recourse for consumers if they are so attacked.

I somehow doubt (well, hope) that wiser heads in Congress will not allow this unfettered delegation of executive and judicial power to corporations. But stranger things have happened.

Dave feels pretty strongly about this. George thinks we should wait and see. I think we should show Berman (and his RIAA and MPAA cronies) the bum rush.

I’m here to tell you it works

My DVD-ROM drive in my PowerBook G3 (aka PowerBook G3 2000, aka PowerBook G3 FireWire… man, these things need model numbers) started slowly going south back at Christmas. I couldn’t watch Blazing Saddles on the DVD over Christmas without going through an elaborate ritual of rebooting the computer (yes, I was running X, but the drive wouldn’t be recognized again otherwise after it stopped working), listening to a few tracks from a CD, and then putting the DVD in.

As Linus once said, “You’re looking at me as though this weren’t a scientific explanation!”

Eventually the drive mostly cleaned up its act. Then when we moved to Seattle, it conked out completely. I looked for replacement options and ended up bidding on a replacement drive from EBay. It’s pretty close to a direct replacement, I think, from Matsushita, a Model SR-8171-B. I was pretty much able to drop it right into the caddy from the old drive, which came off by removing six screws. Though I did have to file down the door plate to get it to fit in the Pismo case. It works with DVD Player and iTunes, which is good enough for me right now.

Kudos to XLR8YourMac, which had posted an article a while back about
mounting a similar combo drive in the Pismo. Curses that I wasn’t able to find a combo drive being auctioned; I would have loved to have a CD burner too.

Everything fallen apart comes together…

…or just about everything. Lisa got a call from Delta saying they would bring her bag by later tonight. The plumbers are all but finished—just some touch up work in the bathroom they were remodeling. I may get a car this weekend. My DVD-ROM drive has been replaced in my laptop (more on that below). Feeling pretty good, if a little tired.

Houseblog update: almost done

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the houseblog (which really needs its own category—maybe soon…) The plumber has just about finished work on the second bathroom. The tile is up, all the appliances are in place. The dishwasher stopped working, so the electrician will be out to fix it, but otherwise things are pretty much done.

Our unpacking is going slowly. I almost have all the boxes unpacked that were brought into the house by the first round of movers. We’ll be getting into real terra incognita with the stuff from the Lucadamos. I’m going to have to get the inventory sheets out to figure out where our good china is—and we’ll probably have to wait on most of that until we get a larger hutch. We also need to buy a new spice rack. Oh yeah, and a car. 🙂

But with the plumbers just about done I was able to vacuum the whole first floor last night, and we can start setting up the guest bedroom, rehanging closet doors, etc. It’ll be good fun.