Nothing to hide? Nothing to fear.


So remember a couple of months ago when I poked at the question “do you know what the data retention and disclosure policies for your ISP are?”

Well, it appears that our friends at the Justice Department have been pondering that very same question, and have come to the conclusion that they’d be much happier if your ISP was required to retain logs of Web, email, and IM traffic, and required to provide those logs to law enforcement upon request.

The Justice Department would prefer that ISPs do this voluntarily, of course, where voluntary means “bending over for us so that we don’t have to go through the hassle of actually getting this requirement written into law,” but with the grusome twosome of child porn and terrorism as justification, it seems likely that an attempt at legislation will come if ISPs don’t fall into line pretty quick.

Oh, and by the way: remember that you’d better not be encrypting any of that data that you’re sending and receiving over that internet connection, either…unless you’re a child pornographer or terrorist, of course. And you aren’t a child pornographer or terrorist…are you?

Microsoft and Anthropology


Bless the “river of news” — it brought me these two little snippets one after another.

First, Scoble points to a on Microsoft’s “anthropological” study of small business users. Next, Drew McLellan writes about trying to install SQL Server on a Win2003 Web Server Edition box.

Quick tip for the MS anthropologists: having a “Web Server Edition” that makes it quick and easy to get a Web server up and running with none of the unnessary crap — ahem, services, sorry — is a nice idea. Makes things simpler for the user. Making it impossible for that user to then install Microsoft database software on that server? Stupid idea. Really, really stupid idea.

Let’s say I’m running a small business. I’ve had my own Web server running for a little while, and now I want to set up a more complex site where my Widget buyers can log in and get custom information. If I’m running Web Server Edition, I’ve got two choices: buy (and license) another machine to run SQL server, or shut down my current Web site and rebuild the box. Great. Thanks, Microsoft.

This is one of the places that MS has always seemed weakest to me: I believe that Microsoft is legitimately trying to make it easy for users to accomplish their tasks, but the company has an irritating habit of doing so by dictating what tasks the user can accomplish and how those tasks can be performed. As long as your needs and goals are in line with those that MS planned for, you’re in good shape…start moving off of those storyboards, however, and MS becomes a lot less interested in where you’d like to go today.

AOL: Hotbed of Innovation


“‘Imagine 27 channels that were never available before on the Web, plus email for everyone,’ AOL Executive Vice President, Media Networks Kevin Conroy told the Daily News.”

I’m sorry — in the context of the internet, what the fuck does “27 channels” even mean? And “email for everyone?” Great idea there, guys; watch out for copycats, though — I’ve got a feeling that this “free email” idea could take off pretty quick. If companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google get wind of this and come up with their own “email for everyone” offerings, you might end up having to fight pretty hard to get new users.

This weekend my mother actually asked to help her “find an internet connection that’s less crappy than AOL” (yes, my parents did shape my approach to the English language, and yes, I’ve been bugging her about getting off of AOL for years). Will 27 channels of choppy video clips pull in enough traffic and ad revenue to offset the steady stream of defectors? Gee, let me think…

The full NY Daily News story on this impending flop is available here, if anyone actually cares.

Playing Chicken


Be careful what you wish for.

Last night, when I was on the phone with the company that had missed (another) “confirmed” appointment to install one of the data lines coming into our new office space, I thought I had a plan.

“Yes, I understand that all of your field crews have already had their schedules set for tomorrow,” I said, “but since you were supposed to show up here today, don’t you think it makes sense to satisfy the commitments that you have outstanding before you begin work on any others? I don’t want someone here to do the work Friday or Monday, I would very much like to have someone here to do the work tomorrow. I can see how scheduling could be difficult, but I’m totally confident that you can find a way to make this work.”

As God is my witness, I was just trying to get them to confirm an install date of Friday, rather than pushing it out to next Monday. After the brain-eating clusterfuck that we’ve enjoyed while trying to get Verizon, Con Ed, and an assortment of other telco ducks in a row for this space, it really never crossed my mind that they would actually agree that getting the line installed today — whatever was required, however it had to be fit into the schedule — was something that needed to happen.

So here I sit, in the half-finished machine room of an empty office space, waiting. I played chicken, and…well, I think that I won… : WWDC 2005 Keynote Coverage


Ajax-powered WWDC 2005 Keynote Coverage, indended to make manageable the server load created by thousands of obsessive geeks frantically reloading for updates? Sweet!

Appears to be hosed, though. Haven’t gotten an update in at least twenty minutes.

Ah…just got an update by manually refreshing. The update confirms that macrumorslive’s real-time coverage is, in fact, hosed. Come on, PubSub, give me something to work with here…

So here we go. The theories of Intel making PPC workalikes, or long-term coexistence of the architectures go out the window. The word from on high is that it’s Intel all the way by 2007.

Scoble on Casual Software Piracy


Scoble’s post last week on Microsoft’s rencent marketing campaign is interesting, but I got stuck on one throwaway sentence right at the beginning.

In the list of reasons that people give him for running Windows, number three is: “[m]y friends have Windows and I know I can get support and software from them.”

Interesting…I kinda doubt that it’s homebrew software or pointers to interesting and useful shareware that these people are talking about. I hadn’t thought about it in quite this way before, but there’s an interesting theory to spin out here…does software piracy actually support Windows’ dominance in an odd way? How many people do have stuck with Windows because their friends could provide a copy of Office, the graphics packages that they want, or a supply of “free” commercial games?

Definitely a B-list issue when compared to something like raw price or OS fear, but an interesting possibility. If this is a factor, then how does the online license activation requirement in more recent MS software affect this cycle?

…still sixteen kinds of busy today, but trying to clear my head (and the blogfodder folder) a little this morning…enjoy…

RSS Ripoff Merchants, Creative Commons, FeedBurner


Read/Write Web’s Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 30 May – 5 June 2005 points to a discussion that I was following last week on what MacManus was calling “RSS Ripoff Merchants” — companies that offer software or services that exist to ahem find and repackage content pulled from various sources around the Web.

Since I’ve been seventeen different kinds of busy for the last few weeks, I didn’t get around to posing on it (or on any of the other posts that I’ve been meaning to get to).

The thread did resonate in an interesting way with one thing that’s been in my head recently, though, so I wanted to get it out: while copyright is secured automatically as a function of creating something, copyright for…oh, say, blogs, for example…is a slightly odd case. Many people take a “common sense” approach, implicitly allowing significant amounts of re-use and assuming that others will use blog content “appropriately” — quoting posts, or republishing them with attribution — because that’s the way blogging has worked thus far.

Now, common sense has as its basis community, and what is common sense to the community of bloggers may not be common sense to the larger world. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a mechanism that allowed us to make explicit the terms under which the content that we create may be used?

Yes. Yes, it would. While adding a creative commons license to your Web site or feed doesn’t prevent others from using the content that you create in inappropriate ways, it does, at least, make it clear to others how you will allow your content to be used…you’re communicating your standards and preventing the honest misunderstandings if not the outright abuse.

And one more side note: thanks, FeedBurner! It took a total of three clicks to add the appropriate CC license to my feed. With the sixteen kinds of busy that I still have to deal with for a few more weeks, I like it when people do work for me.