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January 19, 2002

Nu, a Jew

By Glenn Fleishman

My officemate, long-time friend, and good colleague David Blatner was interviewed along with his rabbi co-author in the Seattle Times about their title, Judaism for Dummies. I gave David a lot of grief about the title, marking it as the height of oxymoronism (due to the heritage of learning, not our smartypantsness), and he took it good naturedly. It’s a great book that I’m still working through and learning from. (Follow the link to the book for the table of contents and description as well; they also have Joy of Jewish dot com.)

David’s book was published by Hungry Minds Press. This was the renamed IDG Books, a long-time publisher of computer bibles and Dummies titles. It was a wildly successful firm. Then they acquired the Internet training firm Hungry Minds at a huge cost, renamed themselves, and within a year found themselves massively in debt. I know several Dummies and IDG authors who found themselves suddenly cut loose just as their books were published: massive layoffs last spring, marketing budgets slashed or cut entirely, and delayed publication dates.

Finally, John Wiley and Sons purchased the Hungry Minds titles and will restore some sanity. Wiley has produced some great Internet titles over the years, more on the theory and analysis side of marketing, technology, and measurement, rather than on specific software. It’s a good fit. But, of course, I now know other authors whose next edition revisions of Hungry Minds titles were cut as part of Wiley’s careful look at the bottom line.

I sometimes don’t know why it’s worth writing books. And then I get email from someone who tells me how they got a job because of what they learned from a book I co-wrote, or how they put up a Web site about their family using techniques they learned, and it seems very rewarding.

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That's Hedley!

By Glenn Fleishman

____ ______ writes:

Two years ago today Hedy Lamarr died. She was a bombshell and an inventor. My grandfather’s cousin. Never met her. We shared some genes.

I salute her! She was one of two people who developed the early concept of spread-spectrum transmission, which was a technological advantage during dub-dub two, and is the basis of most kinds of short- and long-range data and voice transmission now, including my fave, Wi-Fi.

Oddly, my grandfather also had a remarkable cousin I never met: Irving Jaffe, a medal-winning speedskater. Jaffe competed in 1928 and 1932. He quietly had a first marriage and a daughter that the rest of the family was unaware of.

After the divorce, he remarried, and saw the daughter once again before he died. Her mother died young, in her 50s. She didn’t know anything about the rest of her father’s family.

In 1998, an article on him appeared in the New York Times; his daughter, a psychologist, had told her story to one of the great sportswriters at the Times, and he wrote about her and her father. Our family was astounded, and many of us got in touch. I was able to meet her on a trip to Ann Arbor that year. She and her husband are terrific, and somewhat overwhelmed at all the Fleishmans that came out of the woodwork.

Oddly enough, a few months later, my first article appeared in the New York Times, about using the Internet to research and deal with my cancer that I was successfully treated for that year. The Times: bringing families toghether?

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January 18, 2002

Henry Norr Reads My Mind

By Glenn Fleishman

When people have asked me about how cool the new iMac looks in person (and a good question, given they may not ship until February now), I have to tell them that they’re kind of horsey. This provokes the response: what do you mean horsey? I have to explain how in person, the base dominates the design, and makes the screen and neck seem like a scrawny top to a brutish bottom. They’re not bad looking at all, and it’s a nifty way to solve a lot of different problems and integrate the electronics and fan. But the proportion isn’t right. I note that Henry Norr had the same observation:

Besides, the iMac’s proportions strike me as a little out of whack — the base unit, though only 10.6 inches in diameter, just looks too big (not in the photos, but when you see it “in person”).

The photo point is good: because the monitor extends forward, a typical wide-angle lens that a photographer would use to shoot the iMac for a print publication makes the base foreshorten and look much smaller. I wonder if Apple has carefully been posing the unit with the neck far extended to emphasize that? They can’t plan that much, and the screen is too easy to position. No, it’s just an accidental side effect.

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January 17, 2002

Clothed Pictures of Me

By Glenn Fleishman

Some silly photos of me and others (and one good one) from the Peachpit party at Macworld. l took some very poor photos.

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January 16, 2002

Once You Go Mac...

By Glenn Fleishman

David Coursey of AnchorDesk is trying a unique experiment: he’s switching to a G3 Mac for a while to see if he can stand it, or if he has to revert to a Windows XP to get things done. Given his list of fine print and other details, I’d be surprised if he can’t make a clean OS X transition with a few minor exceptions. He thinks that running an emulator is cheating, but I’d say it’s simply employing tools at your disposal. If you buy a fully loaded portable laptop with a decent processor and memory running Windows XP and buy extra batteries to match the iBook, it’s hard to imagine that costing less than an iBook (6 hours with the new larger version because of a bigger battery) plus $150 to $250 for Virtual PC for OS X.

Posted by Glennf at 11:13 AM | TrackBack

January 15, 2002

Making FTP Work in Red Hat

By Glenn Fleishman

I apologize for the overly technical cast of this note, but in restoring my Linux systems yesterday, I found two FTP problems that were easy to fix, hard to find.

When you enable FTP on a new Red Hat 7.2 installation, by default, FTP is disabled. This is great! The default install of Red Hat 7.2 is very secure compared to earlier systems. Coupled with their up2date system (subscription fee simple software updates by package, or free for a limited time when you purchase full copies of server and workstation software), it’s probably the best general Unix distribution ever for an install-and-walk-away solution.

To enable FTP, you have to change two settings which, if they’re not changed, you don’t get reasonable error messages to fix the problems. This is a typical Unix/Linux issue: software fails to do something and it fails to note that it failed to do it.

The xinetd services manager, which replaces the harder-to-configure inetd ubiquitous in Unixdom, has a folder /etc/xinetd.d/. Inside that directory, a file called wu-ftpd has the default socket-based communication information for FTP connections. I disallow anonymous FTP (using the ftpaccess and other configuration files), but to let users with accounts in, you have to edit the wu-ftpd file for xinetd. One of the lines is disabled[tab]on. Comment this line out (with a pound sign at the head), delete it, or change it to off. Then you restart xinetd: service xinetd restart.

The next problem is for users who you don’t want to have login permissions to an account but who have FTP access. A file called /etc/shells lists legal login shells. A binary called /bin/false is a fake shell that doesn’t allow someone to login. If /bin/false isn’t in the /etc/shells list, FTP always fails without a good error message to the user or the system.

This information (and this page) should be invaluable to a number of people someday. I can’t tell you the number of hours I’ve spent over the last four years remembering those two facts when I install a new box.

Posted by Glennf at 11:35 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 14, 2002

I'm Back

By Glenn Fleishman

I’m back from both California and a horrible hacker/hard drive problem. Because of a variety of reasons, we didn’t have a good backup of our main Web/mail server. Hackers got in because I somehow had 1.2.27 instead of 1.2.31 of the openssh software running (I now have the very latest Red Hat built release installed). I beat the crackers out (I think it was just a script creating a zombie) and then accidentally trashed the drive. When I got back into this office this morning (after having restored email via forwarding over the weekend), I was able to run some Unix utilities and recover most of what I needed. Fortunately only the root partition was toast and it had just a handful of configuration files I was able to salvage to avoid rebuilding. The other partitions, with more useful stuff, were intact.

At some point, I’ll even get back to work. I have a lot of work to do and the week spent at Macworld, while fun and useful, wasn’t productive.

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January 10, 2002

Retail Entropy

By Glenn Fleishman

Every retail store will suffer an entropy-related heat death unless care is taken to fight the slow sucking sound of wear and tear and ever-less motivated employees.

I visited the Metreon shopping center (they call it something else) near the Moscone Convention Center last night with my cohort, Jeff Carlson, and saw how the mighty have fallen. Metreon is in the middle of the official derelict and panhandler district in San Francisco. There must be a union: each street corner is limited to one person (or they work it out as an anarcho-syndicate.)

The Meteon was obviously envisioned as an upscale playpen which would pull this part of SF, known as SoMa (south of Market St.), up to a chi-chi-er level. It has movie theaters upstairs (but you buy your tickets downstairs), an interactive gaming level, and an enormous Discovery Store. It also had the first, only, and last Microsoft Store, and a Sony Store.

In the couple years since it opened, I’ve seen it during each Macworld. It’s gotten seedier and seedier as the SoMa revolution stalled and broke. The dotcoms that had filled warehouses and other originally cheap office space around here are gone. Metreon and the businesses in this district obviously haven’t been able to form a neighborhood business district patrol/cleaning squad (perhaps against SF’s rules), so the area feels gritty, smelly, and dangerous, although I believe it’s actually quite safe.

Inside the Metreon, the missing founding stores like Microsoft’s have been replaced by various downmarket alternatives, like simple bookstores or other shops. Eventually, they will have T-shirt stands, the last refuge of a worried landlord.

The Sony Store is pretty awful, and a good demonstration of why Apple opened its own outlets (not that Sony sold Apple gear). Although one piece of every kind of digital gear (consumer and computer) sold by Sony is on display, there’s not much you can do with any of it. One computer had a missing A key. A white sofa in a DVD viewing area had a large, old stain on it. As you entered this high-end store, there were racks of DVDs for sale (from Sony Pictures, one imagines). Jeff asked if he could get an Aibo demo and the salesman didn’t want to do it; they had regular times they demoed, apparently, and even though the store was pretty empty, no go.

The equipment itself isn’t inspiring when it’s just sitting there. The salespeople made sure to not make eye contact and to wander off when you walked in their direction. There was nothing exciting about the place. There was nothing to do there but push buttons.

Sony seems to have already forgotten how retail works. Maybe this is just a bad or neglected store, but in an environment where you’re selling expensive toys and work gear, everything should work all the time. The floors should not be full of scratches. The salespeople should be motivated. But they’re not. It’s a Radio Shack from the 80s.

Posted by Glennf at 10:18 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 9, 2002

Photos from Day 2 and Blogger's Lunch

By Glenn Fleishman

Some photos from the floor, including the best badge at the event and photos from a blogger’s lunch. Sorry that Dave and Mr. Scoble couldn’t join us!

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Day 2 of Macworld Expo

By Glenn Fleishman

Yawn. Tired. My hotel room is in the luxurious Mosser Victorian Hotel. I’m only slgihtly joking. It’s a neat hotel with bijou (read: tiny but pretty) rooms about two blocks from the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. My single room costs $79/night plus tax on special; a double is about $90/night. Their regular rates are $10/night more. They renovated the hotel in the last year (just finishing up now, obviously, with some new carpet being put down on the steps), and the renovation makes it an unbelievable bargain.

The downside: thin walls, a bit too much noise. The transom above the door to my room is unshaded, meaning that when I turn the lights off to sleep it’s still quite bright. I bought a sleep mask yesterday and always travel with earplugs. But still, it’s the only flaw in a cheap, clean room with a great shower and bath.

Why am I spending all this time talking about my hotel room? Because the show is dull as dishwater. Frankly, Apple could have put out a press release saying, “G4 chip in a small form factor and a connected LCD for $1,299 to $1,799” and that would have summarized the whole event. Companies are widely demonstrating new OS X versions of software. It’s definitely a celebration of the coming of age of OS X.

But plain news can be boring unless you’re involved in that specific industry (like 3D or video editing) or having a specific problem (like not being able to back up your OS X volumes via Retrospect).

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January 8, 2002

Macworld Expo Part, Day 1

By Glenn Fleishman

I did a lot of looking and talking today. Here are some photos (turned into a Web page via Apple’s new iPhoto software and published on Apple’s site in my personal area). I had an hourlong meeting with four of Apple’s product managers for the new stuff and garnered a few neat tidbits.

I asked Brian Croll, the PM behind OS X, after we went through a long list of applications ready for or previewed for OS X, about Macromedia (which also lacks a presence at this show, a rare or possibly unheard-of absence). He said, “Macromedia is a company.” And we both laughed. Apple is good about not backmouthing anyone, although Croll did also mention Jobs’s dig at Adobe Photoshop not yet being ready for X. But he pointed out why this comes up: there are a “couple of outstanding applications out there,” and pretty much everything else we’re using is ready to go or in preview.

When I told him that I had tested 10.1 on its release and quickly switched all three of my systems over to 10.1 (and haven’t looked back), he said that their user surveys indicate that the switch to OS X is a one-way journey. People learn the new interface and don’t turn back.

The iBook product manager talked about the design decisions that went into the new top-of-the-line iBook with a 14-inch screen and 6-hour battery. (They’ve maxed it out at 6 hours, 22 minutes.) The battery itself is larger, getting more life; there aren’t other improvements, but it’s impressive against other laptops, both Apple and PC.

When they talked to new users a few months ago about what they wanted in the iBook, he said they had a resounding response of “nothing.” The number two request was a bigger screen, but there was no interest in a PC Card slot. “What would you put into it?” he asked, noting the built-in AirPort slot, FireWire and USB onboard, and 10/100 Mbps Ethernet networking.

I was able to cadge a few details out of the iMac product manager beyond the stuff already covered in depth elsewhere. I asked about usability testing with the articulated LCD neck (as they call it). He said that their testing led them to put a “clear halo” around the LCD made of non-staining polycarbonate plastic to encourage people to move the screen as they needed it repositioned and to protect the actual screen itself. It’s a nice design feature as well.

He pointed out that people will actually wind up moving the screen quite a bit because “computers now are multiuser” and people adjust them to the position they need. I’m inclined to agree. Early critics of the design have said that no consumers adjust equipment. I don’t buy it. I believe that most equipment is hard to adjust, thus not adjusted. This requires a single finger or maybe two.

The unit is lifted by the neck and shipped in an upright position, more or less. The neck contains power, video, AirPort antenna, and a microphone connection. The AirPort antenna is embedded in the LCD display for better performance.

The iMac does have a fan, contrary to my expectation, but it’s “super intelligent” and “super quiet.” The entire unit makes no more sound than 25 dB including the fan and drives. The “fan is constantly sensing the temperature of the base” and adjusts its speed accordingly.

The base of the unit is made of aluminum and uses captive screws that are attached by a three-quarter-of-a-circle snap-in thing. These snap-ins can be removed to replace the screws with security screws for school installations. The AirPort and memory slots are cut out like the items intended to be placed inside them. The user-reachable memory slot uses the iBook/PowerBook style compact memory card. An internal memory card, which can only be swapped out by a technician to retain warranty (we’ll see how true this is) is a standard 168-pin DIMM. It can be custom ordered with a 512 Mb DIMM in that slot.

Mike Evangelist is behind iPhoto, Apple’s new entry in its digital hub set of applications (which they call iApps). He made the mistake of asking me how I liked the new program, and I gave him some feedback about its Web-page writing part, which isn’t quite as good as the rest of the program (which I’m already completely at home with; see earlier in this post).

The program is so self-explanatory, I don’t have to much to add from his briefing. The book function is quite extraordinary: the pages that the software makes by default using the built-in themes and organizer are beautiful. The default design is, somehow, good. This is very rare. I’ve often seen automatic page layout programs that create ugly prefab designs.

Evangelist showed me a few example books. They are produced using limited-run offset equipment, which images pages one at a time. The books are quite lovely. Initially, there’s no discount for multiples, but they’re going to watch the market.

Evangelist said that Apple wasn’t quite prepared for the number of people who would download iPhoto and immediately publish photo galleries on Mac. com.

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Seattle Times on New iMac, Keynote

By Glenn Fleishman

My article in today’s Seattle Times.

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January 7, 2002

Nifty iMac Photos

By Glenn Fleishman

Take a look at some photos from the keynote (beforehand) and press product preview of the new iMac. The page was created with iPhoto, which needs a lot of work. It answers a bunch of needs, but there’s no way to control or improve typography, and the Web pages don’t have the height and width set for images, for gosh sake!

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Separated at Birth

By Glenn Fleishman

Posted by Glennf at 4:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Apple's Big News

By Glenn Fleishman

Was it earth-shattering? No. It’s kind of slick. Apple’s introduced new iMacs that look nothing like a computer has ever looked before. They have an armature that’s double-jointed and fully positionable which supports a 15-inch LCD screen. The base to which its attached is small (about 10 1/2 inches in diamter); a hemisphere containing all the components, drives, and power supply. Jobs made an allusion to that last point about how it didn’t have a big block power supply external to the unit, which the Cube did.

The new units are impressive, though, not just because they integrate the LCD and articulate it, nor because they’re compact. No, what’s important here is the price/performance ratio. For $1,299 you get a 15-inch LCD, CD burner, 700 MHz G4 processor, and OS X coupled with some good memory and hard drive space. Last year, you’d have spent at least $3,500 and would have had a lot more gear and boxes.

The top-end iMac is $1,799 and has a SuperDrive (DVD-RW/CD-RW) plus an 800 MHz G4 processor. This is fairly astounding, given that this unit was $4,500 last January when it was introduced as a G4 tower configuration.

So they pulled a price/performance/design rabbit out of their hat, but it really didn’t warrant all the hype. They would have done better to be quieter.

Jobs demoed iPhoto, which closes the loop on how you get stuff from external digital devices to and from the Mac. The iPhoto program downloads images from digital cameras (and other sources), turns them into manageable albums, exports them as Web pages, uploads them to a Kodak print source (an unbranded, I think), and can even assemble a print book of photos. It’s very good along the lines of iTunes.

Lots of other tidbits, including the fact that Apple shipped 125,000 iPods between Nov. 10 and Dec. 31. This is amazing. I read a lot of assumptions even by the many writers who love the unit itself that the iPod was doomed to failure a la the Cube. So 125K by $400 = $50M of raw sales. Assuming that a lot of these were sold direct via their online and bricks and mortar stores (which I believe was the case), Apple added at least $10M, maybe as much as $20M to their profit for last quarter. And that’s before they start adding more features.

Adobe showed off a bunch of their apps, some ready for OS X, some near-term. Some impressive demos of graphics, rendering, and visualization tools, including a guy from LucasFilms. The iBook also got a refresh. More news in tomorrow’s Seattle Times in my business section story for them.

Posted by Glennf at 11:35 AM | TrackBack

January 6, 2002

Macworld News: Watch This Space

By Glenn Fleishman

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to blog live from the Steve Jobs keynote tomorrow morning, so watch this blog at around 9 am Pacific. If I can, I will. My gut tells me that Apple is going to offer OS X for Intel platforms (maybe specific vendor-partner reference platforms, possibly with Microsoft’s backing as “proof” of their diversity), but my brain says (as does my colleague Jeff Carlson who I am travelling with) that Apple is a hardware company devoted to hardware margins. If they ship OS X for Intel, they’re competing (on some level) with Microsoft and Red Hat.

Posted by Glennf at 11:02 PM | TrackBack

January 5, 2002

Email Portability?

By Glenn Fleishman

I know that some congresspeople have been working on a requirement that cellular telephone companies make their phone numbers portable (that is, movable from carrier to carrier) at some point. The date appears to keep moving further ahead in time. I’m sure there are large technical problems to surmount, and you don’t build your system to make it easier for customers to move. Even though you want to take advantage of other folks’ customers who want to move to you.

But is anyone working on email portability? By which I mean that someone’s email address doesn’t die when a carrier goes out of business or when you leave that provider, but that it continues to function in some limited way for a guaranteed period of time?

As the recent @Home debacle showed, the carriers are much more concerned about their pocketbooks than their customers, even when they’re eviscerating a company that they partly own. (Explain all that to me, anyway.) Perhaps the private sector needs a legislative boost. Perhaps ISPs should be required to forward email or offer an auto-responder for up to 12 months for an old email account? (Forwarding can be a burden and can be abused quite easily.)

Perhaps a small fee (as little as 5 or 10 cents a month per subscriber) could fund an NGO or non-profit that would operate the forwarding site. Rather than require each ISP to create its own forwarding system in which a user could provide a new email address, a separate organization could manage it. The old ISP would forward email or use XML-RPC or a similar protocol to notify the organization’s systems, which would send out or forward the email. The fee would help fund restoration of domain mail exchange records for defunct ISPs.

Posted by Glennf at 4:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 4, 2002

Another Apple Idea

By Glenn Fleishman

Okay, wait, I have it: iMake. It’s a DVD-RW with FireWire and USB, possibly with AirPort (Wi-Fi). It has audio and video (S-VHS, DV, and RCA) outputs. You can use it as an expensive MP3 player, a cheap DVD player. It also reads and writes CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW. It has a small flip-up LCD screen. It costs $900. This is my prediction based on no knowledge whatsoever.

Posted by Glennf at 5:34 PM | TrackBack

What Apples May Come

By Glenn Fleishman

I’m going out on a limb: Steve Jobs will announce on Monday that Apple is buying Palm, Inc. This is pure fantasy and speculation on my part: I have no sources. But in some universes, it will happen (possibly ours). Palm’s market cap is now about $3 billion. Apple has over $4 billion just in cash in the bank. Apple could pay a billion in cash, the rest in stock, restructure Palm, and restore its greatness.

I’ve mentioned this to colleagues and they keep harping on the Newton. The Newton was a fantastic machine well ahead of its time with a few early flaws that doomed it. They also didn’t understand the market. And chips just weren’t fast enough: there wasn’t enough processing power to carry out the needed tasks.

The iPod is what they should look to instead. In the space of a few short months, using off-the-shelf components, a development team created the greatest MP3 player in existence. You can carp about the price, but for the audience that wants the ultimate unit, $400 is a reasonable price given the massive featureset and the superiority of battery life, storage, display, and utility.

Imagine how Apple could transform Palm: dump the management team, dump the marketing team, revamp the developer program, integrate its iPod engineering, integrate wireless into every unit, create hyper-synchronization tools with Mac and Windows, and bring that Apple oomphf back into the market.

As I say, I’m making this up out of whole cloth. But the iPod proved to me that Apple can be lean and mean and sweat the small stuff.

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January 3, 2002

A Glitch in 9 Saves X

By Glenn Fleishman

Dan Gillmor, San Jose Mercury News columnist, writes apropos of other Mac users bailing out of the OS X experience, But the value of stability in the underlying OS is, simply, the one thing that keeps me running OS X. The too-frequent crashing I experience in the most up-to-date version of OS 9 on an iBook reminds me of pre-NT versions of Windows. What I gain from not having to reboot frequently would be worth the drawbacks, even if OS X didn’t have some good features.

This is the essential point: under OS 9, in my regular everyday use of my Mac Cube, I crashed often five times a day. Some of those crashes, at least once a week, required multiple reboots, and Norton Disk Doctor or Disk First Aid to bring me back from the abyss. Some required a full backup, hard drive wipe, and reinstall.

OS X is not the prettiest thing in the world. I agree with Dan that many of the changes are arbitrary on Apple’s part and there’s no good reason not to provide a classic skin that has the old Finder, and old dialog boxes (the dialog boxes are 10 years backward from Mac OS 9.2 or even any version of Windows).

But I gotta say: OS X gives me back at least an hour in the day. Even when it’s slower at some tasks, which it can be, it stays running. For weeks. I took my iBook on the road with me, and I believe that I had to reboot it once over about two weeks. And when I say reboot, I mean that I didn’t have to shut it down or start it up, either. It sleeps correctly unlike virtually all PCs and Macs. Reliably. Every time. It sleeps in a second. It wakes in a second. It works.

It’s a funny test to apply: the thing that works worst best is the best, rather than the thing that works plain old best. I can’t defy the logic in my practical experience. As I wrote recently, as well, Entourage X, the mail/contact program for OS X 10.1 and later, fixes the rest of my business/work problems. It probably saves me another few hours a week in its integration and stability. (Others have reported crashes, but I have had few; it’s a little slow, but its integration reduces about 90% of my cross-application switching and copying/pasting.)

Posted by Glennf at 5:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Newark, Newark!

By Glenn Fleishman

Joe Sharkey writes about train-to-plane connections in his Business Travel column in today’s New York Times. As I wrote a few days ago, I was able to use the Newark International Airport’s new AirTrain Newark terminal to avoid the tedious shuttle service from Newark into Manhattan.

On previous trips, I’d used the private bus service. Here’s how it works: collect your bags, walk outside, walk aways, find the outdoor bays for the busses, wait for a while. A bus shows up. It’s not the one you want. Wait longer. A bus headed to Manhattan appears. Get on board after loading your bags underneath. Wait for it to leave. Wait as it travels to all the other terminals to pick people up. Wait as it gets on the highway. Wait (often a long wait) to get into the Holland Tunnel, where there always seemed to be an hour backup. Finally, you arrive above ground somewhere, like the World Trade Center (no longer, of course), and find a subway that gets you to where you want to go. This costs about $15 to $20.

Contrast this with the AirTrain. Wait for your bags. Walk up an escalator. Walk a few hundred feet indoors. Another escalator. Hop on the monorail. Sit for five minutes. Get off, another escalator up. Buy a ticket for $11 from a credit-card accepting machine. Wait no more than 20 minutes for the next train (Amtrak is about $22 as an alternative; between Amtrak and NJ Transit, trains arrive several times an hour weekdays/daytime, and a few times an hour all other times). In 20 minutes, you’re in Penn Station.

I believe I will never, ever ever fly into any New York airport besides Newark again. LaGuardia is bus plus subway or a $40 taxi ride to Manhattan. JFK is a shuttle bus and a long, long, long subway ride, or a very expensive taxi. Even if I were flying in to rent a car - geez, it’s such a hassle to even get to the cars at LaGuardia and JFK and then you have to navigate out of New York. At Newark, you take the monorail to the car rental agency, drive out, and can head north, west, or south on a major highway. Take the Tappanzee and bypass Manhattan entirely, if such is your wont.

This may prove a problem for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: they’re making it exceptionally attractive to fly into Newark, and their other airports could suffer.

Posted by Glennf at 10:36 AM | TrackBack

dot NOT

By Glenn Fleishman

Microsoft kindly sent me email warning about a security problem with the following advice: Thank you for using Microsoft® .NET Passport. Because Microsoft recognizes the importance of security and reliability when using Internet software, we have now made available free browser security upgrades to better protect your online information. We strongly recommend that you check now to see whether your browser needs one of these security upgrades by going to: .


The security problem is theirs, not ours. The advice is to upgrade to IE 6.0, which disables classic Netscape-style plug-in support. The answer is to fix major releases not force upgrades. The page that this directed me to provided this interesting detail for my OS X 10.1.2 Macintosh installation running IE 5.1 for OS X:

We have identified your Microsoft® Internet Explorer browser as older than version 5.5. A security patch that helps protect your online information is now available for Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 and 6.0. Microsoft® MSN Explorer users should also install the security patch. To help keep your online information secure, please upgrade your browser now, and then install the latest security patch.

Bzzzzt! So they can’t even figure out that I’m running their own browser on a Mac? Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Tell me again why I want to trust Microsoft with all my personal information through a simple login?

Posted by Glennf at 9:37 AM | TrackBack

January 2, 2002

And Then the Dog Says...

By Glenn Fleishman

The Chicago Tribune picked up what is known in the journalism biz as a non-perishable piece from the Associated Press on how cartoons get into the New Yorker. Having written several stories about said process and organization, I have an expert opinion on this. (Wouldn’t you be surprised otherwise?)

The cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, is a class A goof and great guy. I’ve had several great conversations with him by phone or in person that turned into multiple articles, including two in the New York Times (one on the launch of their online searchable licensable archive, and another on the cartoonist behind “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”) and one in eCompany Now on the business behind cartoon licensing (eCompany Now is now Business 2.0).

The licensing business is known as The Cartoon Bank, which was a separate business that Mankoff founded and then sold to the New Yorker about six years ago around the time he was hired as Cartoon Editor.

The AP writer missed a few interesting facts. The writer says that the fee for contract artists starts at $1,200. He doesn’t note that that’s the starting price and that many regular cartoonists have at least one cartoon in every week or close to it. Roz Chast might be making $75,000 a year or more just from the first printing rights.

Further, many of the cartoonists license their non-accepted pieces to The Cartoon Bank which licenses them, generating revenue even from those items. And The Cartoon Bank licenses cartoons that did appear in print, as well. Mankoff told me last year that many cartoonists are seeing as much revenue from licensing and reprints as they were from primary creation.

Posted by Glennf at 11:16 AM | TrackBack

Bad Tech Days

By Glenn Fleishman

Some sage advice from friend and colleague Paul Andrews in the penultimate Seattle Times of last year. Paul argues that as technology becomes pervasive and invasive, a bad tech day could be a fate worse than hair loss.

Posted by Glennf at 10:40 AM | TrackBack


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