February 16, 2018

The wars on democracy and truth

The “War on Truth” is a new and somewhat useful cliché. But like any short phrase, it isn’t perfectly accurate. In particular:

*There also are a number of semantic and epistemological issues around the concept of “truth”, but let’s put those aside for now

For starters, let’s note:  Read more

February 22, 2017

Historical comparisons for Donald Trump

Donald Trump, to put it mildly, is unusual. No analogy or comparison or him is close to being perfectly accurate. Despite, or indeed because, of that, he’s wound up being compared to quite a few other figures, from history, fiction or current events. Perhaps a quick survey would be helpful as background to other discussions.

Three of the most popular Trump comparisons are:

I’ll discuss the first two below. The third will have to wait until future posts.

Further Trump analogies that I think are worth brief mentions include:

Donald Trump compared to Andrew Jackson

Let’s return to Trump’s own favorite analogy. President Andrew Jackson is probably most famous for: Read more

July 30, 2012

DBMS2.com is broken (Update: Fixed!)

Edit: It’s fixed!

A spectacularly failed upgrade has brought down DBMS2.com. I’m going to try to reproduce the error — or hopefully not — and also work toward a fix by messing with my other blogs. Please forgive any chaos that ensues.

September 29, 2010

Has Yahoo Mail been hacked? Or do we just need better password security?

Linda just sent out a single copy of the following spammy email (the URL was live in the original): Read more

July 19, 2010

My view of intellectual property

The purpose of legal intellectual property protections, simply put, is to help make it a good decision to create something. The specific phrasing in the United States Constitution is

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

but that’s just a longer way of saying the same thing.

Why does “securing … exclusive Right[s]” to the creators of things that are patented, copyrighted, or trademarked help make it a good decision for them to create stuff? Because it averts competition from copiers, thus making the creator a monopolist in what s/he has created, allowing her to at least somewhat value-price her creation.

I.e., the core point of intellectual property rights is to prevent copying-based competition. By way of contrast, any other kind of intellectual property “right” should be viewed with great suspicion.

Examples of my views include:

March 28, 2010

Pranks of the past

As April Fool’s Day approaches, it may be amusing to review pranks of the past.

February 25, 2010

People are very confused about privacy

According to CNet, Anthony Stancl ran an interesting scheme:

Stancle had been accused of creating a Facebook profile belonging to a nonexistent teenage girl and then, between approximately the spring of 2007 and November of 2008, using it to convince more than 30 of his male classmates to send in nude photos or videos of themselves.

Stancl then reportedly threatened to post the photos or videos on the Internet if they didn’t engage in some sort of sexual activity with him. At least seven of them have said they were coerced into sex acts, which Stancl documented with a cell phone camera.

Stancl’s victims were teenage boys focused on sex — not exactly the world’s clearest thinkers. Even so, I find it remarkable that multiple people would:

  1. Send nude photographs of themselves to a stranger.
  2. Be so concerned about those photographs getting published online that they would submit to sexual blackmail.
  3. Allow the results of their sexual blackmail to be photographed.

Literally — WTF??

January 6, 2010

Updating our disclosures

From time to time a blogger should make disclosures about sources of income and other potential influences.  Fortunately, I’ve covered most of them in the past.

One new development is that for the first time since 2001, I’ve taken stock in a private company. It’s Petascan, a seed/stealth-stage outfit with some very innovative ideas about how to use Flash memory in support of analytic data processing.  I’d like to do more of this, with conflicts evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  For example, I bet I could bring a lot of value to vertically-oriented analytics start-ups, who would at worst compete with only a small fraction each of the business of the more horizontally-oriented companies I generally write about.

December 14, 2009

Our services for technology vendors

Monash Research provides what we hope is great advice, to technology vendors, users, and investors alike. Working with organizations who want more insight and interaction than is available in our free blogs, we consult on a broad range of subjects – marketing and technology, strategy and tactics, large companies and small ones, all across a variety of industry sectors.

For the past several years, we’ve had an annual refresh of our vendor service offerings, always unveiled in the fall. This year has seen more change than usual, and so I’d like to share some of the highlights with you here. A revampimg of our services for users is in the works as well, and I’ll share that too with you when it is finalized.

Aspects that haven’t changed much include:

The biggest change from prior years is that there are now three tiers of the Monash Advantage, up from one.

The early response to this tiering has been very positive, and we have had multiple sign-ups for 2010 at each of the three levels.

Another change is that we no longer require companies to join the Monash Advantage on a strict calendar-year basis. Now, it’s calendar quarters, and for Custom members we’re completely flexible.

Finally, we’re open to doing stock deals with seed-stage companies, at least ones that don’t compete closely with our other clients. For example, I’ve just started advising one stealth start-up in a hardware area that complements analytic DBMS, and I’m having a blast.  I’ll disclose the names of any companies I have private stock in, as well as offering at least a capsule of what is publicly known about what they’re pursuing.

September 3, 2009

OpenOffice vs. Microsoft Word for WordPress blogging — a 65:1 ratio in cruft

I prepare most of my blog posts in OpenOffice. Most of the rest I write directly online in WordPress. I almost never use Microsoft Word.

The reason, simply put, is cruft.

When I copy a post from OpenOffice to WordPress, I invariably get a line at the top that looks like

<!–         @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in }         P { margin-bottom: 0.08in }     –>

I delete that, which according to OpenOffice stats amounts to exactly 100 characters; I fiddle with the bullet points a bit; I add a title, categories, and a MORE separator; and I’m basically good to go.

By way of contrast, in a recent post I copied a sentence from a press release I’d recieved across Google Mail in .DOC format, forgetting to stage it into OpenOffice first.  The cruft I needed to delete consisted of 6489 characters, namely: Read more

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