The problem with Microsoft and RIM

БогородицаSo, this is maybe a little old, but that’s life. Anyway – awhile back these two videos from Microsoft and RIMM popped up in my google reader and they show these two companies ideas on the future. Take a look:

Got it? Now let’s assume that RIM’s vision of the future isn’t incredibly banal still filled with nested menus, people happily being provisioned completely sterile work environments and theft prevention that only remotely wipes data, doesn’t even try to track it down – two bits of functionality that already exist today. Let’s presume that RIM had at least an interesting vision of the future.

Microsoft’s video at least had that much, sure some of it didn’t make sense or didn’t seem possible, but hey – it’s the future so who knows? Right? I’ll buy it, it looked neat and given enough computer smarts probably a lot of stuff that doesn’t seem possible now becomes possible in the future.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. If you’re a serious company with a serious vision of the future, why would you codify that vision into a video and then put it forth into the world years before you expect that vision to arrive? A – it’s almost certainly not the future that will arrive, we’re very bad predictors time and time again. And B – you’re going to tell your competition how you’re looking at things?

So given A and B, it’s either not really how you see the future, so in general was just a waste of everyone’s time – yours and mine. Or it really is how you think things are going to play out and you think that showing everyone your direction years in advance is somehow good for you? Which… you know… doesn’t seem like all that great of an idea? Punches and telegraphing and all that?

If you look at companies that are continued innovators in technology, let’s call that Apple, Amazon and Google for scale, you don’t see them telling the world how they see the future playing out. They show the world how they are making the future happen now. They just keep releasing innovation – releasing. innovation.

Clearly RIM and Microsoft are currently not thought of as the most innovative companies. Microsoft is showing fighting spirit here on fronts like Kinect (opening that up! great move.) as well as what looks to be a very strong contender into the tough smart phone market with it’s Mango release of Windows Phone. But these videos are going to convince anyone that they’re thought leaders, what convinces people of that are continued innovation around things like Kinect and Mango and Xbox.

Paul Graham just said insane things at YCNYC

UPDATE: So, let’s be clear here – I wasn’t at YCNYC. I read most of this on a variety of posts and tweets. I thought that there was enough context around that to feel righteously defensive of my city. I’ve heard now that in person, his talk came off as positive about the city. So, I don’t know how I feel about the whole thing – I’ll leave this up for posterity though – because I think they’re still statements that seem off. But hopefully there’ll be a video or transcript somewhere where I can see the whole thing.

So #ycnyc just happened. Apparently Paul Graham came to drop bombs. As far as I can tell his talk was a bevy of back handed compliments, inane thoughts and outright insults to NYC. Why did he feel he had to do this? Technology and entrepreneurship is a tough game, but one of the things I love about it is the collaborative spirit you find almost universally across startup guys – they want to help and encourage each other because they all know the unbelievable dedication it takes to weather the ups and downs of creating something from scratch. YC should be a company that embodies this spirit of raising your game not by shitting on other people but simply by raising your own game. So he took this great opportunity to really squash any perceived east coast/west coast divide and instead try and highlight it – I hope he’s failed.

Here’s three things that really pissed me off that rolled through my feed.

“Well, at least we know you guys have now surpassed Boston,” Graham said as he took the stage to address the crowd about New York as a startup hub. “New York is definitely now solidly in the #2 spot.”

Really? Thank god that we know that, at least. That’s how you start your keynote? By straight up patronizing the city you’ve come to speak to? And how does Boston feel about this? Does it make you feel better to put down other cities? This condescension was apparently the hallmark of the talk.

There will not be a YC branch in NY, said Mr. Graham. “We think having no branches is a good filter, it allows you to attract the most dedicated applicants.”

Look, it’s fine if you don’t want to have branches – that’s perfectly legit. But this thing about it being a filter? That’s a ridiculous rationalization where you didn’t need one at all. Travelling? That’s your filter? Then why accept people from the West Coast into your program? There’s obviously no demonstrable dedication there, you should be pushing those guys to apply to other programs on the East Coast.

Even the notion that it “allows you to attract” – according to Paul that the very fact that you have only one branch is an attraction to applicants. Not the specific location, but that there is only one. What is the rationale there?

As a TechStars NYC company, it feels obvious to me (although, perhaps this is just my own hubris speaking) that this is a dig against TechStar’s having branches across the states. But I think of the 12 companies in my class now, I think maybe only half of them are local? And as I understand they received a metric crapload of applicants outside the state.

And for those entrepreneurs that do have some roots, maybe you are married, own a place, have kids, etc… Don’t worry. TechStars doesn’t look down on you for that or think that you might lack dedication just because you don’t think you can uproot your whole family and life to start this.

“The Valley is a magnet for nerdy visionaries,” he said. “New York is for rapacious dealmakers.”


I can’t even begin.


Srsly, dude?

There were other things I saw, how NYC sucked because it had too much nightlife. How NYC startups probably maybe might have an advantage in fashion or finance. NYC sucked because we “prize making money above all other goals.” Oh and hey, maybe startups don’t have to be about tech, then NYC might be a decent place for startups. Oh and finance will take all the top tech – because it has certainly been my experience that most of the entrepreneurs and guys who work at startup are really looking to put on a suit and go to work 9-5 at Goldman. (Oh, and it’s much easier on the west coast to compete with Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft who really target a different group of technologists than those that might want to go to work at a startup.)

Look, no one’s suggesting that NYC is the greatest hub to start a company. But it’s a great place, it has fantastic energy, huge momentum and more than just other startups around it. It’s got a significant number of other industries that startups might want to work with right here in the city, and that is not nothing. Paul’s presentation was unwarranted, unnecessary and contributes nothing to the bettering of our industry. So thanks. #thanksfornothing

Is Microsoft crowdsourcing IE pain?

So in the throws of some IEification of our app and what rolls by my twitter stream but the Royal Pingdom post on how we’re never to be done with IE8. Essentially, by removing XP support for IE9 (where XP has near 50% of the windows market), they’re putting a cap on its adoption. IE10 one ups that and says no to Vista, which is less bad in its way, only incrementally screwing people since pretty much no one is on Vista.

So yes, on the one hand Microsoft is screwing itself. On the other hand, though, Microsoft is in a very real way screwing the entire internet. Rather than figuring out how to write their latest browsers for their own OS – and while yes, companies should feel ok end of life-ing some products, XP is still a huge userbase for them and their browser such core functionality, you’d think they’d take the engineer time to support it.

Rather than that, what they are saying is that, no, we don’t have the engineer time to build these increasingly standards compliant browsers for a significant portion of our userbase. So, you, web developer, should instead continue to spend your time hacking up your code to support our old browsers, for probably at least a couple more years. (Presumably, at some point these XP machines will fall off by hardware failure if nothing else!)

Look, I think Microsoft is doing some interesting things. I’ve had a chance to play around with Windows Mobile 7 and it’s genuinely cool. Windows 8, while unfortunately a year out, by all repute is something fresh and good to behold, too. It seems like maybe they’re turning the ship around and getting back on track, which is really great for everyone, competition rules. But this thing they’re doing with their browsers, it’s a terrible, terrible thing. The IE crossbrowser development tax is a horrible speedbump on the information autobahn and I’d love to see Microsoft take some time to enable people to upgrade appropriately.

MapReduce, MongoDB, NodeJS and MongooseJS – oh my!

So I spent a lot of time last night trying to figure out how to run a MongoDB mapreduce in the context of my NodeJS install. I already was using MongooseJS which had all my db stuff lined up so I figured… how hard could that be? I don’t know if my google skills were impaired or what, but nothing I found was working for me. I went through most of the examples I saw on the internet from – for the purposes of this example let’s assume I have a model called Thing (i.e. Thing = mongoose.model('Thing'); )



And a couple others I saw… some failed outright, some failed with a not-connected although I knew it was connected as other queries succeeded. Finally, after a minor epiphany of source skimming, I tried:

{ out: { inline: 1 } },
function( err, val ) { ... }

That’s worked like a charm. It seems a little obvious in retrospect, but somehow not when I was in the thick of it. Anyhow, if you know a diff’t way or a better way, please let me know!

Some thoughts on RIM

Haven’t posted in awhile, probably will continue to post only sporadically but a bunch of RIM stuff rolled through my greader just now and I thought I’d write about it. Two things really – first that quick note about how RIM has taken the exciting and bold measure of creating a committee to evaluate their… committee run executive pair… Um. Really? Wow. Really sends a powerful signal.

But more interestingly was that open letter that was sent to RIMM. Ostensibly written by an employee – it outlines the things that are wrong with the company. A couple things struck me about it.

First was point #3 – where he says this:

On that note, we simply must stop shipping incomplete products that aren’t ready for the end user. It is hurting our brand tremendously. It takes guts to not allow a product to launch that may be 90% ready with a quarter end in sight, but it will pay off in the long term.

Look at Apple in 1997 for tips here. I really want you to watch this video because it has never been more relevant. It is our friend Steve Jobs in 97 and it may as well be you speaking to RIM employees and partners today.

This seems to be very much the opposite of what you should learn from Apple’s success. Remember the first iPhone? Was it 100% complete? No, I mean, it lacked cut and paste and so many other things. Do a search for reviews of it before it came out to see the many, many apparent deficiencies that would have seen it DOA by the pundits. The first iPad? OMG it doesn’t even have a front facing camera – no one is going to want that!

No – Apple will launch a product that doesn’t have everything it’s supposed to have. But it will do a very good job with what it does have. And then they will relentlessly, doggedly iterate it. That’s the lesson to learn. Do something great and then keep getting greater.

But what I thought was very interesting too was contained in #3 and #4 – he says:

We need to be disciplined here. We can’t afford any more initiatives based on carrier requests to squeeze out slightly more volume. Again, back to point #1, focus on the end users.


4) Developers, not Carriers can now make or break us

If there’s 1 thing that Apple did for the world with the iPhone – it’s they broke the stranglehold that the carriers had on the handset makers. Not completely (if you aren’t Apple) but enough and the writing is on the wall. People want great phones and they’re willing to jump carriers to get them.

But RIM is still stuck in the old mindset. Bow and scrape before the carriers and hope they’ll take your gear (with only these 18 diff’t changes just for them) and promote it to their customers. They need to end that quick.

I expect, though, that nothing will change. RIM’s the new Palm and QNX is the new garnet or whatever was going to save Palm. Sure they’re a little further along with it – but they’ll never make the switch to it, whole hog. And that’s going to kill them. They need bold moves to save them and they don’t even have the guts to pick one leader. It’s over, maybe MSFT will buy them in a few years for cents on the dollar. Who knows. Do you know?

Oh, I forgot – and then RIM replied. The most mealy mouthed nothing of a reply. I’m totally serious when I say – why even bother replying? Half of the response was saying… this person couldn’t possibly be an employee because then he would have just come and talked to us (even though in the letter he states how going and talking to them would have ended any further career advancement – they don’t even address that). And the other half was all about apparently how awesome RIM is doing. Great. Here’s a tip – if you aren’t going to take the bull by the horns and really address actual issues that everyone already thinks about you – just ignore it and let it go away. It wasn’t even a half assed reply – it was like… maybe a 3rd of an ass. I’m just saying.

Verizon is not fooling around w/ the iPhone launch

Wow. It seems that Verizon is taking their iPhone launch very seriously. Check it out – first they’re first out of the gate with the iPhone hotspot thing, which is one of the few Android features I’ve always been jealous about. Sure it’s coming to everyone at some point but a) if you’re on AT&T you’re well acquainted with what “coming soon” could mean. *cough*tethering*cough* and b) first is always best, right?

Speaking of AT&T, Verizon’s going to try and grab all those new iPhone for AT&T customers with a $200 rebate – that’ll solve some of those early termination blues! And along the same lines of making this launch as attractive as possible Verizon is offering a $30 unlimited plan for iPhones (you know like the one AT&T used to offer) – but only for a little while! Then they’re presumably switching to a capped plan. That’ll be exciting both to first time buyers as well as making it an easier decision for olde thyme AT&T customers who are grandfathered into their unlimited plan.

Initially I thought the Verizon launch was going to eat some but not a crazy amount of AT&T iPhone users and then it’d turn into an ongoing war between the two. But it looks like Verizon is storming out the gate with its big boy pants on and I think it’s going to make a real splash, with unique features, an early termination fee assist and a limited time offer for a better dataplan than AT&T – hoo boy. I guess they were really tired of AT&T lording it over everyone with their iPhone growth. Can’t wait to see what AT&T does – it’s about time we had some competition. What’s your deal? You an iPhone user ready to switch? Or you still not into the iPhone and sticking with your Android or your Star Tac or whatever? ;)

eBook Reader Review: Kindle 2 – I gots some issues.

So my lovely wife got me a Kindle 2 for Christmas this year. Which I’ve been making great use of. There’s a lot of great things about it and a bunch of stuff that could stand a little improvement. Overall, it’s great – I’ve been reading more as a direct result of it. I heartily recommend it to anyone on the fence.

One of the things that is really compelling about it is that I can read the same book on my Kindle 2 and my iPhone. That’s super great – reading at home is fantastic on the Kindle, everything you’ve read about the screen is true – it’s remarkable how easy it is on the eyes. Importantly, all those idle moments waiting around, standing in line, just looking for something to do – now I can read a few pages or a chapter on my iPhone. It’s surprising how much reading gets done in those moments.

On the downside here, for some reason when I read from my Kindle – my iPhone can always jump to the latest point read. But after reading on my iPhone it doesn’t seem to sync that point back to the mothership, so I have to manually jump to that point on the Kindle – which is somewhat of a pain finding the location in my iPhone and then typing in the number on the Kindle. Not terrible, but a bit annoying. I wonder if it’s just something about my setup because searching the interwebs seems to show that no one else is having this issue.

Obviously the ability to get books immediately is fantastic. You just search around and the next minute you’re reading. This is huge, for me at least. Instant gratification is what the internets are about and this is pretty damn instantaneous. Again, though, there’s a niggling issue. As I browse through books and finally purchase one it asks you to pick a device to send it to. Why can’t I just sent it to all my devices? In order to read it on both devices, I have to go to manage my kindle purchases and then send it to the other device – which I only ever remember the moment I want to read it on my other device and it isn’t there. This is immensely annoying – especially if I discover this when I’m not at home and unable to actually go to amazon to send it over. Why can’t the devices simply just see what I’ve bought and grab them? It doesn’t make sense to me and is a weirdly bad user experience.

My last real issue with the device is that the page forward/back buttons are too thing and placed on the side. Because they’re so thin and offset, it forces you to hold the device in a particular way – a way that sometimes isn’t so comfortable. Now I never had the original Kindle, but I feel like I’d really prefer those big wide buttons that went from edge to screen. It’d allow for a much wider latitude in hand positions. Something needs to happen at least.

I guess maybe the above comes off as negative, but really those are my only issues – and they are minor. The device is great, the screen is crisp and readable, it’s incredibly thin and light, the battery keeps going like a champ, the library of books is deep enough that there’s never lack of things to read. It’s well worth it’s low price to get. You have one? Not getting one?

Yahoo, Bartz & Hawk…

I’ve been reading about all this Yahoo stuff with a certain sadness. I’ve long been a optimistic about Yahoo, thinking they were one visionary away from greatness but sadly that visionary never arrived instead the place was run by a succession of focusfree CEO’s unable to define what Yahoo was much less set them down the road to executing. I found the latest layoffs and announced closings upsetting but it wasn’t until I read Thomas Hawk’s open letter to Bartz that some of my thoughts crystallized.

It isn’t that I completely agree with all the details of his letter. I don’t. I mean saying that the market is the most efficient grader of all – well, that ain’t right. See every stock market bubble ever for grade inflation. Perfect information my ass. And his calling Flickr “one of the most important and significant cultural treasures of our lifetime” seems, well, it seems a little dramatic to me. Right?

Taking aside my trivial disagreements with his letter, he points out how Bartz was apparently the highest paid CEO in the S&P 500 last year, which seems crazy to me. He also suggests that Bartz doesn’t have accounts nor use most of the services Yahoo provides – now I have no idea how he might know that, just because it might not be public doesn’t necessarily mean she doesn’t have one – but I agree that she ought to if she doesn’t. And he highlights her lack of vision for the company with her statement that she’s focusing on Yahoo’s core products “email, the homepage, search, mobile, advertising, content and more” – wow. Really… all that “and more”?? Their core strengths are so well defined, there’s an etc and ellipsis in them! Way to focus.

More than that though, is the lost opportunity that Yahoo squandered throughout the years. They’ve created and acquired some of the hottest web properties and then done absolutely nothing with them. Instead of turning Yahoo into this fantastic, rich platform showering integrated content and functionality down on the webs, they kept everything isolated to death. I mean seriously, delicious was so siloed that somehow Yahoo, one of the largest properties on the web couldn’t scale it? Instead of partitioning all these little companies into their own isolated silos that had nothing to do with Yahoo, except maybe making you register a Yahoo account – delicious could have been so many things. It could and should have been integrated widely throughout Yahoo’s massive content network. Delicious widgets could have infested the web. It could have been before was on the scene. Or Digg or stumbleupon. It had a strong and dedicated userbase of people bringing into its system and categorizing useful and interesting links. It proceeded to do nothing with it for years, letting other companies take the lead.

Or Flickr, I love the service. I think it’s excellent, but it hasn’t fundamentally or even very incrementally changed in the years I’ve been using it. Sure a brush up here or there, but it’s essentially the same as when I used it. Again, this could have been integrated into the Yahoo content network, continuously improved and made ubiquitous across the web. Instead, watch Facebook move its photo sharing service from crap to announcing face detection in just a few years, while Yahoo flounders with its massive, massive headstart.

Or Pipes and the Brickhouse. Yahoo’s silo mentality was so ingrained that it had to create a silo just for innovation, their startup silo. Doing neat stuff, of which Pipes was one of their great (only?) successes. Nevertheless, it remains a niche product and Brickhouse killed. Or check out their Right Media acquisition. Sigh. Yahoo’s had so many great properties and such a great market position and time after time, they just fail to make successes. It’s sad, really. A great company, with great people – just without the right leadership to get them down the right path. I have no idea if their current direction is the right one, but hopefully they can get things going. I kind of doubt it though.

Why so much Windows Phone 7 hating?

Huh. There’s a hell of a lot of Windows Phone 7 hating in the air. I wrote a little bit about Scoble’s post on Windows Phone 7. That was before Microsoft launched this bad boy and since then headlines like “Windows Phone 7: Solid Platform, Sorry Future“, “Microsoft Launches Windows Phone 7 But Does Anyone Care?“, “Anyone want to argue that Windows Phone 7 is NOT dead on arrival?” and “OK Microsoft, Here’s How To Keep Your Pretty New Phones From Flopping.” Right? I mean, that’s just the ones I happened to keep open in a tab.

With headlines like those, you’d think that Windows Phone 7 must really suck right? Well… actually it doesn’t seem so. I can not recall a single really damning review of the phone – nearly every one I’ve seen has at least said the interface was new, but not gimmicky and social network integration was polished. If the reviewer wasn’t enamored of it at least they grudgingly gave it a reasonable grade – but quite a few of them really thought it was a good, novel interface – no easy feat in this world of iPhone copycats.

I just don’t get it. It’s a good, seemingly polished 1.0 release a bit light in the app store, although that’s to be expected. Why so much hate? Is it just blogger’s reflexive doom and gloom story for Microsoft? The blogging inertia of nay saying MSFT just keeps the boat moving there?

The smartphone market itself is growing like crazy. Sales up 24% since last year? Market grows 56.7%? Why not? With the market growing so fast as well as it being such a young market (basically redefined and reinvigorated in 2007 when the first iPhone hit the streets) – how are people saying that this thing is completely locked up between Apple and Google and maybe RIMM? It just is not a supportable stance to take if you ask me. It evolves almost daily in terms of what it means to be a player in the smartphone market – how is it possible that bloggers could be saying it’s now a stagnant market with only 2.5 players?

I dislike Microsoft as much as the next guy, sure. Nevertheless, I like to think my dislike is based on rational objection to things they do and produce. So, when they seem to come out with something good, well, I’ll be the first to admit it. I mean, sure I haven’t seen a phone actually, but by all the reviews of the same people damning its chances – it seems like a potential winner. If Microsoft can iterate anywhere near the pace of Google and not take up their traditional snails pace – I’m hoping they are another real entrant and driver of innovation in the space. It is only to everyone’s benefit for their to be more competition. What do you think? They have a potential winner in their hands or you think it’s actually DOA?

Does the Windows Phone 7 launch need cattle?

Read Scoble’s post last night regarding the ratio of hat to cattle that Windows Phone 7’s launch might display (hint hat 1, cattle 0). I thought that it had some odd notes in it. The hat part was simply that he thought the UI was good and original. The cattle part is as follows:

1. It doesn’t look like it’ll be available on Verizon. Sorry, but T-Mobile is worse than AT&T (T-Mobile doesn’t even work in my house, while AT&T does). Most of the people who are anti iPhone are that way because of AT&T, not because the OS doesn’t have cool tiles or their Facebook news feed isn’t displayed on the home screen.
2. I would be surprised if there are close to 30,000 apps available to start. Compare to Android, with more than 100,000, and iPhone, with 270,000. In fact, I’ll be amazed if they ship more than 3,000 apps to start. More on why this matters in a second.
3. There will be bugs. One thing I learned while working at Microsoft is that it ships software with bugs. Duh. But so does Apple. The thing is Apple has had several years now to “harden” its OS. Plus, every app developer has shipped many bug fixes. So the whole ecosystem over on Apple is much stronger and less buggy. In just the past week more than 30 of my 356 apps on my iPhone 4 have updated. Most of my favorite apps like Twitter, Facebook (which still sucks on iPhone), Foursquare, etc have had more than five iterative releases.

I completely agree with #1. This is a sad fact for Windows Phone 7- putting it in very direct competition with the iPhone w/out giving it a carrier boost from people wanting to stay on the US’s best carrier (Verizon). I don’t know if T-Mobile is worse – from my experience it’s about the same level of badness.

However #2 and #3 don’t make any sense to me. Not that I disagree that they will be issues with the launch – but I don’t understand why it is newsworthy. Simply any new smartphone OS is going to be plagued by those problems. Android certainly was and here 2.2 versions later Scoble is quoting Android’s market as one of the ones to beat. When Android began it’s long tail of apps was considerably shorter than Apple’s was, too. Over time it got developers and became the powerhouse it is today.

Same thing with bugs. Remember Android 1.0? That thing was saaad. Again over time it it’s improved and improved. It didn’t kill Android because it launched imperfectly – and thank god it didn’t launch perfectly, if they had waited until it was a “perfect” OS we’d still be waiting for it.

I think they are odd arguments to make unless Scoble’s suggesting that it’s over for smartphone OS’s – that we’ve got what we’ve got now and that’s it forever. Which I don’t think he’s saying. Especially because the smartphone market is itself growing so quickly. While long tail apps may create a stickiness for some smartphone users as they grow addicted to certain apps, new users will be looking for fat head apps like Facebook and Twitter as key functionality (which will certainly be in the WinPhone7 store).

To me the big news about Windows Phone 7 is that by all accounts early reviewers think that it not only is a good OS but an original one. Of course the proof will be in the pudding, but I find the news surprising – I honestly didn’t think Microsoft could do it – but if they have pulled out a reasonably polished and original 1.0 release, well that is certainly something. It’s really nice to have so much competition in the smartphone market, although it’s still important to remember that we’d still be rocking Treo 8’s and Blackberry Pearl 2’s if Apple hadn’t launched the iPhone. What’s your hopefullness level for the WinPhone7 launch today?

Google Cloud SQL: Your database in the cloud

Cross-posted from the Google Code Blog

One of App Engine’s most requested features has been a simple way to develop traditional database-driven applications. In response to your feedback, we’re happy to announce the limited preview of Google Cloud…

Amazon may acquire remnants of Palm and webOS from HP

Amazon is reportedly a front runner among multiple companies currently in talks with Hewlett-Packard to purchase its struggling webOS business. VentureBeat cites an anonymous “well-placed source” in reporting the HP is looking to dump what’s lef…

Monsanto Wins Patent Dispute Against Farmer Who Bought Legal Seeds

We’ve had numerous stories of Monsanto’s rather aggressive patent enforcement efforts, and unfortunately it appears the company has chalked up another victory in the courts. Glyn Moody points us to the story of CAFC (the nation’s patent appeals court) siding with Monsanto against yet another farmer.

The details of this story are really quite incredible. The farmer, Vernan Bowman, bought official Monsanto seeds and planted his crops. Yet, Monsanto has rules that say you can’t re-use “Roundup Ready” seeds, but you can apparently sell “second-generation” seeds to grain elevators for use as “commodity seeds,” and doesn’t require that there be any restriction on the sale. Bowman later bought a bunch of such “commodity seeds,” which included some Roundup Ready seeds, and some that weren’t. Bowman was able to determine which of the plants came from Roundup Ready seeds… and then saved those seeds for replanting. Monsanto claimed this was infringement, even though the seeds were legally sold to the grain elevator and then from the elevator to Bowman without restrictions. On top of that, while Bowman had signed an agreement for his original seeds, he did not with this batch (and, indeed, even Monsanto admits he didn’t break the user agreement — just patent infringement for using the seeds).

It’s difficult to see how this is possibly infringement. In common patent law terms, the patent issue should be “exhausted.” Setting aside the insanity of using patents to tell farmers they can’t re-use their own seeds, once Monsanto has given farmers the rights to sell second-generation seeds to the grain elevators for resale with no restrictions, it’s hard to see how Monsanto should have any subsequent patent claim on any further use of those seeds or their progeny. In fact, Bowman was so sure that he was doing absolutely nothing wrong, that he freely shared the details of what he did with people from Monsanto. But the court, as it seems to do with alarming frequency, seems to see no trouble with granting a patent holder significantly extended control.

Patent exhaustion is supposed to cover these situations. A few years ago, the Supreme Court, in the Quanta case, made it clear (or so we thought) that a legal sale of a licensed component “exhausts” the patent holder’s rights to go after later buyers in the supply chain for infringement. Bowman correctly pointed out that if this isn’t a clear cut case of patent exhaustion, then the concept is pretty useless.

Monsanto’s bizarre argument is that while it agrees to let farmers sell the seeds as a commodity without restriction, it still doesn’t want anyone to plant with them, so anyone who does so did not make an authorized purchase, and thus no exhaustion has occurred. I can’t see how that makes any sense at all. First of all, no restrictions were placed on the sale, so later claiming restrictions makes no sense. Furthermore, retroactively declaring a sale by two separate independent parties “unauthorized,” after the fact, based on what the buyer does, is flat out crazy.

The court here says that exhaustion is meaningless, because the seeds Bowman planted are new seeds, and thus newly infringing — yes, despite the legal purchase:

Patent exhaustion does not bar an infringement action. Even if Monsanto’s patent rights in the commodity seeds are exhausted, such a conclusion would be of no consequence because once a grower, like Bowman, plants the commodity seeds containing Monsanto’s Roundup Ready technology and the next generation of seed develops, the grower has created a newly infringing article.

It’s hard to read decisions like this and not realize how horribly broken the patent system is, aided by courts like CAFC and a Congress that fails to fix such clear abuses.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

Guy Who Created The TSA Says It’s Failed, And It’s Time To Dismantle It

One of the politicians instrumental in creating the TSA, Rep. John Mica, who wrote the legislation that established the TSA, has apparently decided that the whole thing has been a failure and should be dismantled. He notes that “the whole program has been hijacked by bureaucrats.”

“It mushroomed into an army,” Mica said. “It’s gone from a couple-billion-dollar enterprise to close to $9 billion.”

As for keeping the American public safe, Mica says, “They’ve failed to actually detect any threat in 10 years.”

“Everything they have done has been reactive. They take shoes off because of [shoe-bomber] Richard Reid, passengers are patted down because of the diaper bomber, and you can’t pack liquids because the British uncovered a plot using liquids,” Mica said.

“It’s an agency that is always one step out of step,” Mica said.

It cost $1 billion just to train workers, which now number more than 62,000, and “they actually trained more workers than they have on the job,” Mica said.

“The whole thing is a complete fiasco,” Mica said.

There’s a lot more at that link. Now, one could (and perhaps should) note that when Mica wrote the legislation, his particular political party was in power, and now it’s not. So the cynical voice might say that his words are somewhat politically motivated. And one can (and probably should) ask how it was that Mica didn’t expect this kind of result. This is what the government does. It creates agencies that are then “hijacked by bureaucrats.” While it’s nice to see him realizing this now, it’s too bad he didn’t see it back then.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

Forged Google Certificate

There’s been a forged Google certificate out in the wild for the past month and a half. Whoever has it — evidence points to the Iranian government — can, if they’re in the right place, launch man-in-the-middle attacks against Gmail users and read their mail. This isn’t Google’s mistake; the certificate was issued by a Dutch CA that has nothing to do with Google.

This attack illustrates one of the many security problems with SSL: there are too many single points of trust.

EDITED TO ADD (9/1): It seems that 200 forged certificates were generated, not just for Google.

Will Wash. Times Editor Correct These Egregious Climate Falsehoods?

The new editor of the Washington Times vowed to ensure accuracy at the paper; however, a recent column by the Times‘ Jeffrey Kuhner contained several significant falsehoods about climate change, which Kuhner claims is “the greatest hoax of our time.”

Wash. Times Editor Vowed To Ensure Accuracy

Ed Kelley Said He
Would “Tackle” Errors And Distortions.
Ed Kelley, the new editor of the Washington
told Media Matters in June:

on a case by case basis, if I come in and there is an individual or a group
that complains that this editorial says something out of context, that it is
just a flat-out error, or to use your term … a distortion, you know we're
going to take a look at it," said [Ed] Kelley, who takes over the Times
on July 1. "We want the editorials to be strong, to be
persuasive, but to do so they both have to be grounded in accuracy. So, if these
things are brought forth, I want people to contact me. Whether it's you or
whether it's the public or any other organization if there are examples of
these things occurring. I'm not there yet, won't be there for another 10 or 11
days. But certainly if this is an issue, I'm going to tackle it." [Media
, 6/27/11]

Wash. Times Column Butchers
Climate Facts

An August 25 Washington
column by Jeffrey Kuhner claimed that “the greenhouse-gas theory is
evaporating into thin air. Climate Change has been the greatest hoax of our
time.” To support this assertion, the column made the following claims:

  • “Earth’s atmospheric temperatures have cooled during the past
  • “The polar bear population is growing”
  • “The Arctic ice caps are not melting”
  • “Sea levels have remained relatively stable” [Washington
    , 8/25/11]

Past Decade Was The
Warmest On Record

Wash. Times Claimed “Earth’s
Atmospheric Temperatures Have Cooled During The Past Decade.”
, 8/25/11]

NOAA: “2001-2010 Was
The Warmest Decade On Record For The Globe.”
In its 2010 State of the Climate
report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that "2010
tied with 2005 as the warmest year since record began in 1880" and "the decadal
global land and ocean average temperature anomaly for 2001-2010 was the warmest
decade on record for the globe, with a surface global temperature of 0.56°C
(1.01°F) above the 20th century average. This surpassed the previous
decadal record (1991-2000) value of 0.36°C (0.65°F)." [NOAA, 1/14/11]

[NOAA, accessed 8/26/11]

Claims Of Cooling
Require Cherry-Picking Of The Data.
In December 2009, the Associated Press noted
that claims of global cooling are often based “on an unusually hot year in
1998.” AP “gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked
them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented.”
They concluded:

who analyzed the data found a distinct decades-long upward trend in the
numbers, but could not find a significant drop in the past 10 years in either
data set. The ups and downs during the last decade repeat random variability in
data as far back as 1880.

Saying there’s a downward trend since 1998 is not scientifically legitimate,
said David Peterson, a retired Duke University statistics professor and one of
those analyzing the numbers.


say that in sizing up climate change, it’s important to look at moving averages
of about 10 years. They compare the average of 1999-2008 to the average of
2000-2009. In all data sets, 10-year moving averages have been higher in the
last five years than in any previous years. [Associated Press, 12/1/09]

No Evidence Of
Cooling In Past Decade.
Scientists say it’s important to look at several decades
of data to distinguish the long-term trend from short-term variations.
However, even just the past 10 years of data refutes the Washington Times’ claim
of cooling. The following chart shows monthly global temperature anomalies
derived from satellites from 2001-2011:

[, accessed

Data Show Declining
Polar Bear Subpopulations

Claimed “The Polar Bear Population Is Growing.”
, 8/25/11]

IUCN: Polar Bears Are
Not A Single Population, “But Rather Occur In 19 Relatively Discrete
IUCN’s Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG), which compiles information on polar
bear populations, stated:

bears are not evenly distributed throughout the Arctic, nor do they comprise a
single nomadic cosmopolitan population, but rather occur in 19 relatively
discrete subpopulations. There is however an uncertainty about the discreteness
of the less studied subpopulations, particularly in the Russian Arctic and
neighbouring areas, due to very restricted data on live capture and tagging.
[International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2/10/09]

Eight Polar Bear
Subpopulations Are Listed As “Declining.”
As of 2010, the PBSG states that of
the 19 subpopulations, 8 are declining, 3 are stable, 1 is increasing, and
there is not enough data for the other 7. [International Union for Conservation
of Nature, 5/11/10]

The following chart
from Polar Bears International displays the PBSG designations:

[Polar Bears
International, accessed 8/1/11]

Polar Bear Scientist:
It Is “Simply Dishonest” To Say The Polar Bear Population Is Booming.
In an email
responding to previous right-wing media claims that the number of polar bears
is “booming”, polar bear expert Dr. Ian Stirling wrote:

are 19 recognized subpopulations of polar bears in the circumpolar
Arctic. For several, we have no reliable information, particularly those
in Russia but in some cases, estimates for Canadian populations are out of
date. So, one cannot say whether, on a circumpolar basis, the total number of
bears is declining but it probably is. The data are quite clear for some
populations, such as western Hudson Bay or the southern Beaufort Sea, and they
are declining seriously. There are other populations that are likely declining,
in part or largely because of climate warming but usually you don't have long
enough data series to say this with confidence. Polar bear research in general
and population estimation in particular are expensive so it is not surprising
that we don't have information over a long enough span of time to answer some
of the questions.

declines are happening for sure with some populations, and very likely in
several others but we simply don’t have the data to say one way or the other
with certainly. Such scientific honestly is seized upon and misinterpreted
freely by the deniers, as you can see from the small sample of comments you
list below. The basic approach of most is quite similar though.

the total polar bear population is definitely not “booming”. Just
saying so many, many times, and ignoring the factual, peer-reviewed, scientific
data, is simply dishonest. [Email to Media Matters, 8/1/11]

Summer Sea Ice Is Expected To Disappear By Mid-Century

Wash. Times
Claimed “The Arctic Ice Caps Are Not Melting.”
, 8/25/11]

Arctic Sea Ice Has Been
Declining For Decades.
From the National Snow and Ice Data

[NSIDC, 10/4/10]

Research Council: Thickness Of Arctic Sea Ice Has Also “Declined
A National Research Council report reviewing the state of
climate science said that evidence shows declining thickness of Arctic sea ice and that scientists expect the Arctic “to become permanently ice-free during
summers by the middle of the 21st century”:

[T]here is general scientific consensus that the Arctic,
which is systematically losing summer sea ice thickness and extent on an annual
basis, is expected to become permanently ice-free during summers by the middle
of the 21st century, regardless of how future emissions change. This change to
an ice-free summer Arctic is expected, in part, because of the positive
feedback between warming and sea ice melting.


Analyses of recently declassified data from naval submarines
(as well as more recent data from satellites) show that the average thickness
of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has declined substantially over the past
half-century, which is yet another indicator of a long-term warming trend (Kwok
and Rothrock, 2009). [National Academy Of Sciences, National Research Council, 2010]

Sea Levels Are Rising
At An Accelerated Pace

Wash. Times Claimed “Sea Levels Have Remained Relatively Stable.” [Washington
, 8/25/11]

National Research
Council: “The Rate Of Sea Level Rise Has Accelerated Since The Mid-19th Century.”
National Research Council states in its “most comprehensive study of climate
change to date”:

level has been systematically measured by tide gauges for more than 100 years.
Other direct and indirect observations have allowed oceanographers to estimate
(with lower precision) past sea levels going back many thousands of years. We
know that sea level has risen more than 400 feet (120 meters) since the peak of
the last ice age 26,000 years ago, with periods of rapid rise predating a
relatively steady level over the past 6,000 years. During the past few decades,
tide gauge records augmented by satellite measurements have been used to
produce precise sea level maps across the entire globe. These modern records
indicate that the rate of sea level rise has accelerated since the mid-19th
century, with possibly greater acceleration over the past two decades (Figure


of the huge capacity of the oceans to absorb heat, 80 to 90 percent of the
heating associated with human GHG emissions over the past 50 years has gone
into raising the temperature of the oceans. The subsequent thermal expansion of
the oceans is responsible for an estimated 50 percent of the observed sea level
rise since the late 19th century. Even if GHG concentrations are stabilized,
ocean warming and the accompanying sea level rise will continue until the
oceans reach a new thermal equilibrium with the atmosphere. Ice in the world’s
glaciers and ice sheets contributes directly to sea level rise through melt or
the flow of ice into the sea.

The report included
this graph (Figure 2.6) depicting “annual global mean sea level as determined
by records of tide gauges (red and blue curves) and satellite altimetry (black

[National Research
Council, 2010]

Study Finds “Greenland And Antarctic Ice Sheets Are Losing Mass At An
Accelerating Pace.”
the American Geophysical Union:

Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace,
according to a new study. The findings of the study – the longest to date of
changes in polar ice sheet mass – suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice
loss from Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant
contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have
predicted. The results of the study will be published this month in Geophysical
Research Letters
, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.


ice sheets will dominate future sea level rise is not surprising — they hold a
lot more ice mass than mountain glaciers,” said lead author Eric Rignot,
of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the University
of California, Irvine. “What is surprising is this increased contribution
by the ice sheets is already happening. If present trends continue, sea level
is likely to be significantly higher than levels projected by the United
Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Our study helps
reduce uncertainties in near-term projections of sea level rise.”
[American Geophysical Union, 3/8/11]

New TouchPad Owners: HP Offers Six Pack of TouchPad Apps for Free

Shared by felix

This is pretty hysterical.

For to those of you who have cashed in on the best tablet buy we’ve seen to date, HP just made a move to sweeten the already ridiculous deal: a six-pack of paid webOS apps at no-cost. The apps retail from…

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda Resigns From Slashdot

Shared by felix

End of an era. Damn.
After 14 years and over 15,000 stories posted, it’s finally time for me to say Good-Bye to Slashdot. I created
this place with my best friends in a run down house while still in college. Since then it has grown t…

More Schools Go To 4-Day Week To Cut Costs

Shared by felix

Hugh Pickens writes “As schools return to session in South Dakota, more than one-fourth of students in the state will only be in class from Monday through Thursday as budget constraints lead school districts to hack off a day f…

Lytro’s Ren Ng sheds some light on the company’s ambitions

Lytro’s announcement that it will be launching a plenoptic ‘light field’ camera that allows images to be re-focused after they’ve been taken, was met with equal amounts of interest and skepticism. Interested to find out more, we spoke to the company’s founder and CEO, Ren Ng, to hear just what he has planned and how far towards a product the company has got.

New Attack on AES

Biclique Cryptanalysis of the Full AES,” by Andrey Bogdanov, Dmitry Khovratovich, and Christian Rechberger.

Abstract. Since Rijndael was chosen as the Advanced Encryption Standard, improving upon 7-round attacks on the 128-bit key variant or upon 8-round attacks on the 192/256-bit key variants has been one of the most difficult challenges in the cryptanalysis of block ciphers for more than a decade. In this paper we present a novel technique of block cipher cryptanalysis with bicliques, which leads to the following results:

  • The first key recovery attack on the full AES-128 with computational complexity 2126.1.

  • The first key recovery attack on the full AES-192 with computational complexity 2189.7.
  • The first key recovery attack on the full AES-256 with computational complexity 2254.4.
  • Attacks with lower complexity on the reduced-round versions of AES not considered before, including an attack on 8-round AES-128 with complexity 2124.9.
  • Preimage attacks on compression functions based on the full AES versions.

In contrast to most shortcut attacks on AES variants, we do not need to assume related-keys. Most of our attacks only need a very small part of the codebook and have small memory requirements, and are practically verified to a large extent. As our attacks are of high computational complexity, they do not threaten the practical use of AES in any way.

This is what I wrote about AES in 2009. I still agree with my advice:

Cryptography is all about safety margins. If you can break n round of a cipher, you design it with 2n or 3n rounds. What we’re learning is that the safety margin of AES is much less than previously believed. And while there is no reason to scrap AES in favor of another algorithm, NST should increase the number of rounds of all three AES variants. At this point, I suggest AES-128 at 16 rounds, AES-192 at 20 rounds, and AES-256 at 28 rounds. Or maybe even more; we don’t want to be revising the standard again and again.

And for new applications I suggest that people don’t use AES-256. AES-128 provides more than enough security margin for the forseeable future. But if you’re already using AES-256, there’s no reason to change.

The advice about AES-256 was because of a 2009 attack, not this result.

Again, I repeat the saying I’ve heard came from inside the NSA: “Attacks always get better; they never get worse.”

Google’s Android Press Release Generator



JEFF JARVIS: The Google-Motorola Deal Is A Tragic By-Product Of Our Screwed-Up Patent System (GOOG)

Shared by felix

Really? All three identical tepid statements from the big Android partners show how great this is going to be for the whole ecosystem?

The Google/Motorola deal is lawyer repellent. Or rat poison, if you prefer. It is a tragic and w…

Update to Sessions in Google Analytics

икониShared by felix

This is interesting.
Beginning today, there will be a small change in how sessions are calculated in Google Analytics. We think this update will lead to a clearer understanding of website interactions. We also want to explain how these changes might impact your reports.
What’s changing?Currently, Google Analytics ends a session when: More [...]

Fox’s History Of Mainstreaming Hate

Fox & Friends recently hosted Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labeled an anti-gay “hate group.” Lafferty, who has described SPLC’s designation of her group as a “badge of honor,” is the latest member of an organization that SPLC has designated as a hate group or otherwise criticized for propagating hateful rhetoric to be invited to speak on Fox News.

Fox Hosts TVC President Andrea Lafferty

Fox & Friends Hosts TVC
President Andrea Lafferty.
On the August 4 edition of Fox
News’ Fox & Friends, the co-hosts interviewed Andrea
Lafferty, head of the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), about TVC’s
report criticizing grants funded by the National Institute of Health. [Fox
News, Fox & Friends, 8/4/11]

Southern Poverty Law Center: TVC Is An Anti-Gay “Hate Group”

SPLC Labels TVC An Anti-Gay “Hate Group.” According
to the SPLC, TVC will be listed as an anti-gay hate group as of
2011. SPLC elevates anti-gay groups to hate group status “based on their
propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that
have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and
repeated, groundless name-calling.” From SPLC:

The group has at times enjoyed remarkable
access to the halls of power — during the
George W. Bush Administration, Sheldon and Lafferty visited the White House a
combined 69 times, meeting personally with Bush in eight of the visits. But
that does not mean that it has not long had a record of extreme gay-bashing.

In 1985, [TVC founder Lou] Sheldon suggested
forcing AIDS victims into “cities of refuge.” In 1992, columnist Jimmy Breslin
said that Sheldon told him that “homosexuals are dangerous. They proselytize.
They come to the door, and if your son answers and nobody is there to stop it,
they grab the son and run off with him. They steal him. They take him away and
turn him into a homosexual.” Sheldon later denied that he made the comments,
but his website today includes strikingly similar language: “[S]ince homosexuals
can’t reproduce, they will simply go after your children for seduction and
conversion to homosexuality.” Elsewhere, it claims that “[t]he effort to push
adult/child sex … is part of the overall homosexual movement.”

The TVC also asserts that "it is evident that
homosexuals molest children at a far greater rate than do their heterosexual
counterparts" — a falsehood based
on conflating male-male molestation with homosexuality. Gays, it says, molest
children at "epidemic rates," adding: "As homosexuals continue to make inroads
into public schools, more children will be molested and indoctrinated into the
world of homosexuality. Many of them will die in that world." With regard to
LGBT teen suicides, TVC, under the headline "Homosexual Urban Legends," claims
that "[t]he cold, hard fact is that teens who are struggling with homosexual
feelings are more likely to be sexually molested by a homosexual school
counselor or teacher than to commit suicide over their feelings of despair."

The TVC also makes assertions on its website
about disproportionate homosexual pedophilia and attacks the idea that people
are born gay and the claim that gays want the right to marry for the same
reasons that heterosexuals do — the TVC
suggests the real purpose of marriage equality is to destroy the concept of
marriage and ultimately replace it altogether with group sex and polygamy. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 3/30/11;
Media Matters, 3/30/11]

Hosted Author Who Was Member Of League Of The South Hate Group.
On the June 8, 2010,
edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck, Beck hosted author Thomas Woods, who has been a member of League of the South,
which SPLC describes as:

[A] neo-Confederate group that advocates for
a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European
Americans.” The league believes the “godly” nation it wants to
form should be run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (read: white) elite that
would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate blacks
and other minorities. Originally founded by a group that included many Southern
university professors, the group lost its Ph.D.s as it became more explicitly
racist. The league denounces the federal government and northern and coastal states
as part of “the Empire,” a materialist and anti-religious society.
[SPLC, accessed 8/4/11; Media Matters, 6/8/10]

Promoted Book By “One Man Hate Group” Eustace Mullins.
On the September 22,
2010, edition of his Fox News show, Beck attacked 20th
century diplomat Edward House by promoting a book by Eustace Mullins called Secrets
of the Federal Reserve
. Mullins was described as a “nationally known white
supremacist and anti-Semite” in his obituary and was “described in 2000 by the
SPLC as a one-man organization of hate.” From the Daily News Leader in
his hometown of Staunton, VA:

Nationally known white supremacist and
anti-Semite Eustace Mullins of Staunton, described in 2000 by the Southern
Poverty Law Center as a one-man organization of hate, died Wednesday in Waller
County, Texas, at age 86.


Besides controversial writings in his own
name, he was widely believed to have concocted propaganda hoaxes by authoring
improbably self-damaging writings attributed to others but supporting Mullins’
extremist views. At one point he also adopted the title of “reverend”
and saying he represented what he called the “American Humane

Besides his church, he also took credit for
or appeared on letterhead of several other organizations, usually operating at
his home address at the time.

In 1955 he listed himself as Executive
Director of the “Aryan League of America” at a Springhill Road,
Staunton, address.

In 1960, his name was one of two listed on
the letterhead for the policy committee of the Institute for Biopolitics in
Chicago. One memo warned, “The Whiteman’s very existence is in
danger.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 9/22/10,
via Media Matters; Daily News Leader, 2/5/10, via Nexis]

Pushed Attack On Jennings Based On Claims Made
By Anti-Gay Hate Group Mass Resistance.
Fox advanced numerous attacks on former Education Department official Kevin Jennings which
originated from the anti-gay hate group Mass
Resistance. The group was listed in SPLC’s list of “Active U.S. Hate Groups in
2008.” [Media Matters, 12/10/09]

& Friends

Hosted Columnist For “White Nationalist” Website VDARE.
On the May 24, 2010, edition of Fox
& Friends
, co-host Steve Doocy hosted Allan Wall to discuss Arizona’s
anti-immigration legislation. After the interview, Doocy revealed that Wall is
a columnist for, which publishes the
works of “white nationalists.” According to SPLC, VDARE is a hate group that
“regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists
and anti-Semites.” [Media Matters, 5/24/10;
SPLC, accessed 8/5/11]

& Friends

Hosted Official From AIC And AICF, Which SPLC Lists
As Anti-Immigrant Hate Groups.
On May 14, 2010, Fox
& Friends
hosted Phil Kent of the Americans for Immigration Control
(AIC) and the American Immigration Control Foundation (AICF). According to
SPLC, both organizations are anti-immigrant hate groups. From the SPLC:

Founded in 1983, the American Immigration
Control Foundation (AICF) is an anti-immigration group that has grown more
shrill in recent years. AICF’s web site suggests that immigrants have
“sown the seeds of ethnic strife in America” and that large-scale
immigration into America, especially Third World immigration, is “a policy
rooted in humanistic pride and the worship of Mammon [a Biblical reference to
anti-Christian materialism].”

AICF has been headed by John Vinson since
1990. In the mid-1990s, Sam Francis, who was fired from the conservative Washington
 after penning a racially inflammatory column, was AICF chairman.

Today, Francis is editor of the racist
Council of Conservative Citizens’ (CCC) monthly tabloid, Citizens Informer. Vinson,
who is also editor of the anti-immigration publication Border Watch, often
speaks at CCC meetings and is a founding member of the white supremacist League
of the South. [Media Matters, 5/18/10;
SPLC, accessed 8/5/11]

Fox Has Repeatedly Hosted Pam Geller, Subject Of SPLC
“Hatewatch” Post.
News has repeatedly hosted anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller, even after she was the subject of an August 25,
2010, “Hatewatch” post by SPLC titled, “White
Supremacists Find Common Cause With Pam Geller’s Anti-Islam Campaign.” From the
SPLC’s description of Geller:

Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement’s
most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in
her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims, such as
that President Obama is the “love child” of Malcolm X. She makes no
pretense of being learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy
lifting to her Stop Islamization of America partner Robert Spencer. Geller has
mingled comfortably with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South
African racists, defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and denied the
existence of Serbian concentration camps. She has taken a strong pro-Israel
stance to the point of being sharply critical of Jewish liberals. [SPLC, 8/25/10; SPLC, accessed 8/5/11; Media Matters,

Fox Hosted Head Of Anti-Gay Hate Group Family
Research Council To Attack Gender Diversity Education.
On the
May 26 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum
hosted Family Research Council president Tony Perkins to attack a school in
California that was teaching a gender diversity class. The Family Research
Council has been labeled by the SPLC as an anti-gay hate group. From the

The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as “the leading
voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but its real specialty is
defaming gays and lesbians. The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT
community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to
denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes
laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell” policy.

To make the case that the LGBT community is a threat to American
society, FRC employs a number of "policy experts" whose "research" has allowed
FRC to be extremely active politically in shaping public debate. Its research
fellows and leaders often testify before Congress and appear in the mainstream
media. It also works at the grassroots level, conducting outreach to pastors in
an effort to "transform the culture."  [SPLC, accessed 8/5/11; Fox News, America's
, 5/26/11, via Equality

“Healthy Meal”: The Right-Wing Media Rages Against Healthier Happy Meals

Following McDonald’s decision to offer “more nutritionally-balanced” Happy Meals and First Lady Michelle Obama’s praise of its move, the right-wing media jumped to attack McDonald’s for supposedly bending to the will of the “fat police” and making Happy Meals “less happy.” However, numerous studies show that childhood obesity leads to significant health problems, and moreover, McDonald’s reportedly made their decision in part so that parents could feel “less guilty” about buying their kids Happy Meals.

Makes Apple Slices A Regular Part Of “Happy Meal”

“Announces Commitments To Offer Improved Nutrition Choices.”
From a July 26
McDonald’s press release:

McDonald’s USA president Jan Fields announced the company’s “Commitments to
Offer Improved Nutrition Choices.” The comprehensive plan aims to help
customers — especially families and children — make nutrition-minded choices
whether visiting McDonald’s or eating elsewhere.

changes underway include the addition of more nutritionally-balanced choices
that meet McDonald’s reputation for great taste and affordability, along with
an increased focus on providing nutrition information that enable customers and
employees to make simple, informed menu decisions.

will always try to do the right thing, and we know we can help make a
difference in our communities," said Jan Fields, president, McDonald's USA.
"The commitments we're announcing today will guide the future evolution of our
menu and marketing." [McDonald's,






2007--2009 County Obesity
Prevalence Among
Low-Income Children Aged 2 to 4 Years


accessed 7/27/11]

And Obese Children Are More Likely To Become Obese Adults.
From First Lady
Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign’s website:

Obese children may experience immediate
health consequences which can lead to weight-related health problems in
adulthood. Obese children and teens have been found to have risk factors for
cardiovascular disease (CVD), including high cholesterol levels, high blood
pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance. In a sample of 5-to 17-year-olds,
almost 60% of overweight children had at least one CVD risk factor and 25% of
overweight children had two or more CVD risk factors. In addition, studies have
shown that obese children and teens are more likely to become obese as adults.
[Let's Move, accessed 7/27/11]

And McDonald’s Happy Meal Change Was The
Result Of A Business Decision


“Business Strategy For McDonald’s Is To Make Parents Feel Less Guilty” About
Buying Happy Meals.

From a July 25 Los Angeles Times

The business strategy for McDonald’s is to
make parents feel less guilty about feeding fast food to their children, so
they’ll become more frequent customers.

“People tell us they want to feel good about
visiting us regularly, about the food options that we serve, and want to visit
us even more often,” [President of McDonald's
USA Jan] Fields said. [LA Times, 7/25/11]

New OpenSocial Community Groups on Facebook

Shared by felix

Hello Everyone,This will be a quick update for the OpenSocial community. I wanted to let everyone know that we have two new upcoming avenues for people to reach out to us on Facebook. This will allow us to build more com…

For Texas Textbooks, a Victory For Evolution

Shared by felix

Thank god. :)
An anonymous reader writes “The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution. In an 8-0 vote, the board today approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from…

RIM said to be prepping Apple TV competitor for fall launch (Zach Epstein/BGR)

Shared by felix

God I hope this is not true.

Zach Epstein / BGR:
RIM said to be prepping Apple TV competitor for fall launch  —  Research In Motion is currently working on a media box codenamed “BlackBerry Cyclone” that will launch later t…

EXCLUSIVE: Apple Store Sets Secret Service on Spy Camera Artist (Sarah Kessler/Mashable!)

Shared by felix

I’m vaguely surprised this kind of stuff doesn’t happen more often.

Sarah Kessler / Mashable!:
EXCLUSIVE: Apple Store Sets Secret Service on Spy Camera Artist  —  Artist Kyle McDonald installed a program on computers in two New…

Morgan Stanley data breach hits investors

Shared by felix

“Personal information belonging to 34,000 investment clients of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney has been lost, and possibly stolen, in a data breach. According to two letters sent to clients, and obtained by, …

Developer Calls Amazon Appstore a 'Disaster'

An anonymous reader writes “The developer of the current #2 Top App on Android Market has written a very interesting article giving six reasons why they decided to pull their game from Amazon Appstore. From the article: ‘If you are a small indie development team, or possibly even alone, don’t bother with Amazon Appstore. Create a great app, publish it on Android Market, and provide great customer support. You will never succeed on Amazon Appstore without a big wallet, or at least an established reputation so that Amazon puts value behind their promises.’”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

LinkedIn Cuts Off API Access To BranchOut, Monster’s BeKnown And Others For TOS Violations

Shared by felix

Exclusive: Professional social network LinkedIn has shut down API access to a number of developers for terms of service violations, according to the company. The six developers whose access to LinkedIn’s API include Faceboo…

Showtime’s Got Balls!

My friends at OrdrIn just snapped this execution to promote Showtime’s The Franchise. A simple and fun use of real life Foursquare integration, check in to the experience, get a baseball! Considering the placement of the ball chute, i am hoping those b…

RIM bows to pressure, plans committee to examine leadership structure (Matt Hartley/Financial Post)

Shared by felix

Wow, bold moves. Create a committee to figure out what is up with their committee run executives. Isn’t there already a committee to do that? They call it… the board of directors?

Matt Hartley / Financial Post:
RIM bows to pressu…

Learning Programming In a Post-BASIC World

Shared by felix

Did he really say that “scripting languages are good but limited”? Did we suddenly tinewarp back to the late 90s?
ErichTheRed writes "This Computerworld piece actually got me thinking — it basically says that there are few goo…

Tesla Will Discontinue the Roadster

Shared by felix

Well, that seems like a crazy harsh interpretation of the news…
Attila Dimedici writes “Tesla has announced that their business model has failed. Their basic idea was to sell a boutique electric car to fund the development of a reg…

Kind of Screwed

Shared by felix

That is so messed up.
TL;DR version: Last year, I was threatened with a lawsuit over the pixel art album cover for Kind of Bloop. Despite my firm belief that I was legally in the right, I settled out of court to cut my losses. This o…

Here's Proof That Any Ridiculous Idea Can Get Funding Right Now

Shared by felix

So, it’s ridiculous to invest in a social media site that is growing to a million uniques a month and is profitable? CRAZY!

People with naturally curly hair spend a lot of time figuring out how to tame it.Naturally Curly Network ho…

Violent Games Credited With Reducing Crime Levels

maroberts writes “According to a research paper produced from a collaboration between the University of Texas and the Centre for European Economic Research, violent video games may induce aggressive behavior, but the incapacitation effect outweighs this and produces a genuine reduction in violent crime. This paper was referenced in a BBC news story giving reasons why the US crime rates are falling (at least outside the prisons!)”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google 1,000,000,000 (GOOG)

Shared by felix

There a billions of people online? Really? Like… at least 1 out of every 3 people in the world is online?

Google just had one billion unique visitors in May, according to comScore. 
By the way, this is one for the "b…

Are Rising Gas Prices a Cure For Obesity? [Economy]

Shared by felix


There may be one benefit to the rising cost of gas. It could make Americans less fat. More »

Nokia N9 first hands-on!

Shared by felix

Huh, seems like a good looking device at least. Curious to read more about the OS.

The N9 has arrived. Functional units of Nokia’s long-awaited MeeGo smartphone have finally landed into our eager hands and we’ve got a gallery of i…

Dropbox is in for another round of user anger thanks to Dropbox Reader

Shared by felix

I’m not sure how I feel about this – but the question in my mind that determines this is that how many services out there remain secure if the attacker has access to your local box?

It wasn’t that long ago, even by Internet time, …

RIM reports Q1 earnings: misses analyst estimates, Q2 outlook misses, layoffs coming

Shared by felix

Remember when everyone said that RIMM could never be assaulted in it’s enterprise fortress? Word.

Research In Motion on Thursday reported earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2012. After cutting its first-quarter outlook at the …

Hit the deck: LulzSec and Anonymous start trading blows (Matthew Lynley/VentureBeat)

Shared by felix

not going to end well….

Matthew Lynley / VentureBeat:
Hit the deck: LulzSec and Anonymous start trading blows  —  Hacker group LulzSec has begun publicly attacking hacker group Anonymous, an action that could lead to a civil …

Project Spartan: Facebook’s Hush-Hush Plan To Take On Apple On Their Own Turf: iOS

Shared by felix

Wow, well this would explain the complete lack of attention FB’s given their iOS app.
Given the news that has already come out about Facebook, you’re probably thinking there is no way that anything else leaks out today. They’re …

IE9 adoption is painfully slow. Google to the rescue?

Shared by felix

This is just awful. And depressing.
Internet Explorer 9 launched on March 14 this year, a full three months ago. It’s free software. It’s clearly a better web browser than previous IE versions. Yet only 13% of IE users have adopt…

Tim Bray on ‘Web’ vs. ‘Native’ Apps

Shared by felix

This is a silly distinction. HTTP as a transport is convenient but not definitive in the way that HTML/CSS/JS is vs Object-C/Java.
Tim Bray:

I’m pedantic enough to be a little irritated by the common
“Web vs Native” usage. …

HP's NEW PROBOOK: Taking Aim At The MacBook Pro [REVIEW] (HPQ)

Shared by felix

Even when they’re copying Apple they get it wrong. The fit and finish is all wrong, lines all over the place, tiny trackpad, that wierd sunken area surrounding the keyboard and pad. I mean. Y’know?

Introducing the HP ProBook 5330m….

? It’s All Software

Shared by felix

An unusual number of weird/wrong/straw man problems in Gruber’s piece. Weird.
Here’s Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, writing about iCloud:

Here’s how Google and Apple’s vision of the cloud differ: for
Google, the cloud means cloud +…

Why did Apple choose Twitter over Facebook? (Joe Wilcox/BetaNews)

Shared by felix

I’d guess one reason is that they couldn’t even agree on how they would work together superficially with Ping?

Joe Wilcox / BetaNews:
Why did Apple choose Twitter over Facebook?  —  Apple will deeply integrate Twitter into iOS …

Citigroup hacked, 200,000 accounts compromised

Shared by felix

Is it me or is there a rising number of high profile hacks happening these days?

On Thursday Citigroup announced that hackers had breached its systems in May and accessed personal data from 200,000 accounts — about 1% of its custo…

Morons Commit Arborcide To Steal Bike

Watch as a group of not so smart people in Brooklyn chop down a ginkgo tree to swipe what the person who uploaded this YouTube video describes as a “fucking department store bike chained with a thin cable lock.” Mensa members they’re not.

Speck’s New HandyShell iPad 2 Case – Hooray For Handles!

Shared by felix

I find this strangely compelling.

By Andrew Liszewski
For whatever reason, these days you really only see handles built into electronics designed for kids and toddlers. I understand that their tiny hands can use a bit of extra help …

No, Seriously, It’s Not Safe to Ride in the Bike Lane

(Video Link)
Casey Neistat got a ticket for riding his bicycle outside of a bike lane in New York City. He argued with the police officer that sometimes he does so because there are obstructions that make it unsafe to use the designated lane. The cop …

TIME FOR PEOPLE TO EAT CROW: The New York Times’ Paywall Is Working!

Arthur Sulzberger

Two years ago, when the New York Times announced its plans to implement a paywall, most of the digerati guffawed.

Dumb old media company, they snickered. Still too thickheaded and backward to see that in the new world news would always be free.

Many of the digerati followed up their verdicts with super-detailed analyses of exactly why the paywall would fail. But here’s one thing that most of those analyses ignored:

The paywall’s impact on the legacy print business.

Shortly after the paywall went up, the New York Times announced that it already had 100,000 subscribers, which seemed like a good start. But there has been another benefit to the paywall that no one is focusing on.

One of the reasons the New York Times’ circulation numbers have declined in recent years is the discrepancy between the cost of a print paper (~$600 a year) versus the cost of the web site (free).

Even people who love their newsprint had to give serious thought to why they were blowing $600 for nothing. But now that the paywall is in place, they at least don’t have to feel like idiots anymore.

And that, a senior New York Times Company executive told us on background this morning, is leading to an uptick in print subscriptions.

Another executive confirmed this, saying the company is “seeing an uptick in new print orders in all frequencies–7 days, Weekender, and Sunday.”

(We’d heard about folks jumping on the Weekender as a the cheapest way to get unlimited web access and a Sunday paper to boot. But this was the first we’d heard of the other subscriptions increasing as well.)

In other words, the New York Times' digital paywall is not only helping the digital business develop a meaningful new revenue stream (without crippling the existing one–because the NYT has way more digital ad inventory than it can sell).  It's helping to sustain the paper's core print business.

(By the way, not to gloat, but we thought the paywall was a good idea…)


For the latest media news, visit The Wire. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Join the conversation about this story »

See Also:

Just Months After Jeopardy!, Watson Wows Doctors

Shared by felix

This frightens me.
kkleiner writes “Following its resounding victory on Jeopardy!, IBM’s Watson has been working hard to learn as much about medicine as it can with a steady diet of medical textbooks and healthcare journals. In a rec…

Introducing Search engines come together for a richer web

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog)

Today we’re announcing, a new initiative from Google, Bing and Yahoo! to create and support a common vocabulary for structured data markup on web pages. With, site owners and developers …

Apple Is Building Twitter Into Your iPhone And It's A Game-Changer

Shared by felix

Wow, Apple must really be angry at Facebook – if only FB had worked more closely with Apple, systemwide integration with FB could have been much fuller experience than with Twitter. Still, maybe another year before Apple just buys Tw…

? Why Windows 8 Is Fundamentally Flawed as a Response to the iPad

The new Windows 8 touch-based UI, revealed earlier today at the D9 Conference, looks good. It’s clearly drawn from the same inspiration as Windows Phone 7, and shows some seriously innovative UI thinking. The idea of tiles rather than icons is rich, …

The Latest out of Supertouch Labs – Coverflow Media Control

Shared by felix

Sooo cool.
Here is some of the latest out of Supertouch Labs. It utilizes a kinect, spacial recognition and activation, remote iPad control and gesture based media control.
The user, once in our Coverflow application can control medi…

*Neuromancer* Movie Deal Moving Forward

Shared by felix

Avatar was “hard science fiction”? Floating rocks? Networked trees? Really?
chill writes “After years in development, a film adaptation of William Gibson’s seminal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer is finally moving forward. According to a…

Amazon Now Selling More Kindle Books Than Print Books


By July 2010, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book
sales, and six months later, Kindle books overtook paperback books
to become the most popular format on Today, less than
four years after introducing Kindle books, Ama…

Righthaven Hit With Class Action Counterclaim

Shared by felix

Hellz yeah.
Hugh Pickens writes writes “Steve Green reports that oneof the website operators accused of copyright infringement by Righthaven has retaliated, hitting the Las Vegas company with a class-action counterclaim charging that…