Copyright ©1997-2011 Glenn Fleishman except as noted otherwise. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact Glenn Fleishman at glenn at glennf.com. Photo © 2008 Laurence Chen; used with permission.
Turning technology from mumbo-jumbo into rich tasty gumbo
I’ll be talking to David Lawrence on Online Tonight, a syndicated radio talk show about things Internettish. The show is carried on a number of stations, but you can also listen via live streams. Visit the show’s site. I’ll be on live at a little after 7 pm Pacific.
It seemed only a matter of time, but the Macworld Expo in New York has morphed into CREATE, according to internetnews.com. Apple will still participate, but the change has probably saved them millions of dollars without completely diminishing the value of the show.
At Macworld Expos, Apple sends hordes of employees to deal with briefings, crowd control, demos of new hardware, etc. It’s easy to see that they spend several million to handle their end of the show. (The San Francisco show involves mostly local Apple employees who only need to commute to San Francisco for the day—no plane fare, no hotel room nights.)
More recently, Apple decided they wanted to uncouple product announcements from events, to keep the market for products from constantly collapsing prior to each show.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a financial analysis that shows that beyond the hard costs associated with Macworld/NY they also had millions in soft costs for deferred or halted sales, and obsolete equipment they had to clear out of the channel.
I went to the New York show for the first time last year, and I didn’t plan to return. Not only is it a lousy time to be in the Big Apple — it was the hottest week of the summer last year — and Javits a pain in the apple to get to, but there just wasn’t the critical mass of people and products and news to make it a real event.
Leander Kahney wrote an excellent article for Wired News about my GoLive bandwidth bill. (See previous days.)
Some good news appears afoot: although Level 3 still can’t give me a final bill because of how their system works, it’s increasingly likely that it will be much less than $15,000, although I won’t be sure until I see the hard numbers.
I received this very odd message. Can this be for real?
We are a marketing company that has been hired by
the Church of Scientology to build a strong reciprocal
We would like very much to exchange links with your
site, but to do it with a twist.
Do to a long standing policy that prohibits the Church
of Scientology from reciprocating links, we are not able
to provide a link back. However, we do have a few sites
that we could link you with.
If you would be interested in participating this link
exchange, please visit our link exchange information
site and choose the sites that best fit you.
Link Exchange Information Site:
Ignite Business Solutions
It’s spam, for starters, followed by Scientology, followed by Google link spamming. What gives?
Today’s TidBITS article (see previous post) provoked over 1,000 downloads of the free electronic version of Real World Adobe GoLive and over $700 in donations from people trying to help me pay what’s shaping up to be a $15,000 bandwidth bill. (See previous days for hte full story.)
The difference with today’s 1,000 downloads (about 15 Gb) is that about half went to Bare Bones FTP site, which isn’t charged by bandwidth, and half to the Info-Mac archives, which are distributed across about 25 servers. No one of those servers, on average, handled more than about 20 downloads.
This is how I should have started. If only I’d known the interest in GoLive!
My dear friend Adam Engst wrote his take on my GoLive book experience in TidBITS, the weekly Macintosh journal that’s the longest continuously publishing newsletter on the Internet — we think!
If you’re a Mac user, you need to subscribe to TidBITS because it’s a compact set of interesting articles each week that’s long enough to be useful but short enough to be read in 15 minutes.
Even while war rages in Iraq, I’m selflishly wallowing in some bad times. They’re only financial. No lives lost. No health damaged. No relationships severed. (If anything, tying myself tighter to others).
A small backyard sewer repair and oil-tank project ballooned from $7,500 to as much as $25,000. A plan to give away Real World Adobe GoLive 6 as a free PDF might cost me $5,000 to $15,000 in bandwidth charges because of, well, too much interest in the book. Which hasn’t sold very well in print. Hence the giveaway.
And today’s my birthday. I had a superb meal last night at a restaurant at which we know the regular chef — she sent off endless amounts of delicious food. Really improved my mood.
Today, I move forward at the beginning of my 35th year. I try to empathetic, expanding my consciousness outward to think about the folks battling not in my name in Iraq, while hoping that the outcome is swift and improves the Iraqi people’s lot. And our own.
All together now: it’s only money. (And, P.S., my house has a lot of equity in it and interest rates are low. I’ll get through it.)
Unfortunately, we just discovered that the number of downloads of this book — nearly 10,000 — could wind up costing literally thousands of dollars. Literally. We’re using a colocation service that charges based on the 9th busiest hour in a month and charges thousands of dollars for the level of usage we might have achieved. We had no idea it was that high. This is, of course, all my fault.
More news as we have it.
In the 32 or so hours since I posted this, we had 200 Gb or approximately 10,000 downloads of Real World Adobe GoLive 6. If one half of one percent of those people, or 50 folks, buy a copy of the book through Amazon.com then we might just pay our bandwidth bill (50 times $4.50 = $200).
The files were located at a Level 3 co-located server run by a friend, and he pays a small monthly fee based on 95 percent of the time running at 1 Mbps or less. We ran at 20 Mbps on average yesterday. I have no idea what the bill will be! $200? $2,000? Part of the experiment.
We may have to go shake a can and ask for $1 or $2 bandwidth donations (please!).
Adobe may host the book — still working on that — reducing future bandwidth. I’m not sorry at any price that I did this (well, at $20,000 I would be). But it’s yet another part of the puzzle.
This essay by Tim O’Reilly got me thinking about a book I’ve co-written across three editions, Real World Adobe GoLive. The book has had a relatively short shelf life because of Adobe’s rapid revision schedule in the first releases after it acquired the product, formerly called CyberStudio.
The latest edition of the book has sold extremely poorly. I’m sure I’m revealing enormously damaging sales information for a tiny niche product, right? But my co-author Jeff Carlson and I put enormous effort into the book. There are certainly hundreds of thousands of GoLive 6 users based on all the numbers we know about, and only a tiny fraction have purchased our book. (Because of returns on previous editions, we’re in the hole for the book across editions, making it difficult to earn out the advance.)
So what’s the solution? Revel in obscurity and restrict the information, hard-won and documented that we put together? No. Taking a page from O’Reilly’s essay and some other ideas we’ve experimented with, we’ve released the entire book as a free, but copyrighted, PDF today at the book’s Web site.
We figure that it’s worth sharing the book with the rest of the world because the sales are so low we’re not sabotaging any channels. If anything, we hope that people will read the electronic version, and decide that instead of printing a 922-page book out, they’ll buy the print edition. Maybe it’ll improve sales.
But if nothing else, we’ve thrown the book into light instead of letting it slip into the void, obscure and unavailable.
In the next few days, Adam Engst and I, co-authors on The Wireless Networking Starter Kit, will release an electronic edition of that book that will be sold. We won’t copy protect it, but will rely on the nature of the Internet to spread ideas and hopefully result in some income.
Ebooks are still in their infancy because people don’t interact with them the way they do print editions. That’s partly because ebooks need to take more advantage of the medium in which they operate, and that’s tough. Developing interactive resources requires lots of creativity and effort. Writing books is hard and involved in an entirely different fashion.
For some reason, I’ve been unable to get two successful Mac brain transplants to boot without fussing. I just received a new Power Mac dual 1.25 GHz system — my first upgrade in 2 1/2 years. Instead of cloning or otherwise duplicating files from my Cube, I simply inserted the Cube’s drive into the empty drive bay. No matter what I did, however, I could not get the Cube’s OS X 10.2.4 system to boot. (I checked the jumpers and the master/slave ATA cable and tried different configurations, including making sure both were set to cable select.) The Power Mac recognized the system, and showed it as an option in Startup Disk.
Okay, fair enough, I decided to just copy Applications and User settings over, and with about 40 minutes of copying and a little configuration, I had the new machine set up to work like the old. So no biggee, but not very Mac like.
The second brain transplant took an empty new drive now in my Cube, and a cloning operation from my home iMac. I ran Carbon Copy Cloner after mounting the Cube in FireWire disk mode. I used Disk Utility to initialize the drive, and then CCC to copy all the files. I shut down, removed the FireWire cable, and booted the Cube. It wouldn’t boot! I ran Disk Utility from the Jaguar boot disk, and there were no significant permission errors and no disk catalog problems. Reboot, reboot, reboot, checked jumper settings, no luck.
I ran the Jaguar installer, archiving the installation that was in place (as it was 10.2.4 and I only have 10.2.3 disks), and then downloading about 150 Mb of OS X updaters, since I didn’t have those stored at home. The system is fine now, and, once again, pretty much like the iMac’s was.
I can’t figure out the common factors in both cases. Perhaps I need Disk Warrior to make sure I can create or migrate bootable disks? I’ve never had these difficulties with even older versions of OS X or ever with OS 9. (Do you have to bless System folders in OS X?)
A great day for consumers! Bush signed a national do not call list, which will hopefully destroy telemarketing.
A duo of The Cluetrain Manifesto authorship quadumvirate, Doc Searls and David Weinberger, are back with the latest screed that makes me pump my fist in the air like I just don’t care. Or, rather, like I do.
The World of Ends is a set of simple statements which rock the datasphere. When I was at Supernova 2002, where both Doc and David spoke and listened, we heard two messages crashing against each other like the immovable object and irrestible force: quality of service (QoS) in all its many manifestations and the Stupid Network in its clear vision.
The Stupid Network, a term coined by David Isenberg and expanded on by many of his cohorts, states that a network that doesn’t know what it’s carrying but only strives to connect all points — what Dave and Doc call, wisely, “ends” — works best.
The QoS vision says, insidiously, we want certain measures of performance, like video that doesn’t skip a beat, and people who pay more for their service being guaranteed packets as they need them. (I went on about this back in December.)
The two notions collide in that the smarter you make the network, the worse you guarantee it will handle anything, and the more control you exercise over its very nature. By abandoning control, which is impossible to perfect anyway, you open the network up to work just as well as it would have if you’d built all that expensive and conflicting QoS stuff.
In practice, it’s saying don’t try to force higher layer stuff in the network stack, like applications, on lower layer stuff like network or physical elements. If you make everything work the best it can at the lowest levels, including maximizing bandwidth and ensuring diversity of routing and peering, the upper levels can do very well on their own, thank you very much.
Bob Frankston practically hypnotized me into believing this at Supernova 2002, and it’s a testament to people that changed the world before that when they start talking in prophet mode, you’d better listen — in profit mode.
What Doc and Dave are pushing is a clear message aimed at reforming the basis of the contention. What they have done is provide a platform on which future arguments about QoS and the Stupid Network will have to be based. You can no longer argue about these issues without debating whether their syllogism and/or givens are legitimate. You can’t ignore them.
Obviously, a book follows, no?
(The World of Ends reminds me in part of a meme I’m pushing through my friends and colleagues in the Wi-Fi hot spot world: the physical part doesn’t matter. It’s a business of branding and real estate, because everything in between just works. Anybody with some competence can set up a wireless access point, create accounts, track usage, and bill people. There are lots of choices, and it’s a routine activity if not trivial. The hard part now in hot spots is creating a brand that people subscribe to — and by extension make partnerships to firm up the brand — and to sign real estate venues to put your hot spots in. The middle part can’t be ignored but it’s not hard. In the World of Ends, the network is a given.)
When I drive by “No War in Iraq” signs, I have some ambivalence about giving them the thumbs up. I don’t want to go to war by my nature. I don’t want children of any country buried in unmarked graves in lands far from home or sent home in body bags.
But Saddam is one of the most destabilizing forces in the world right now.
So is George Bush.
I’ve thought if the signs said, “Disarm Bush and Saddam through International Cooperation,” I might be honking madly. I can’t support the war as it’s been laid out, or, in fact, war at all in this case since we’re opposed to the dictator not the people.
But I also can’t wipe away Saddam’s blame along with several other key countries (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Paraguay, etc.) that are part of the connection of money, people, and opportunity that have led to the state of terrorism in the world.
I didn’t elect Bush. We didn’t elect Bush. And he’s taking Reagan’s legacy — of all things to have to praise the Great Communicator — and his father’s and Clinton’s and squandering it. Thank God for Jimmy Carter and his essay today.
Could you ever imagine France, Germany, and Russia standing shoulder to shoulder over avoiding a military action? Three nations that have spilt more blood on each other’s territory than possibly any others in history are all agreed.
The moral imperative is to continue to remove Saddam, to push for dismantling the means by which terrorism spreads even among our so-called allies, and to not engage in international war crimes ourselves.
I’m going to take a tiny bit of credit for the Seattle Times sports blog that launches today. I’ve been very unofficially offering some input to my long-time friend and colleague in charge of online content there, and put some fire to notions already floating around about blogs at the paper by raving about them. And raving.
The sports blog is a great way to start: it combines the excitement and immediacy of a live event without the overhead of attention required by a reader to watch unedited footage or listen to unedited audio. It’s not like a summary or analysis of the game, but more like what it’s like to be there.
I hope that this kind fo idea continues to spread. One of the problems at any modern newspaper is having the people resources, not technical resources, to make sure that a product can be put online that has the accuracy and quality of what goes into print. That’s a large task.
As breezy as bloggers like me like to be, or as rigorous as I fact check my own material, the gap between my Wi-Fi Networking News blog and a Seattle Times blog is liability, authoritativeness, and…liability. Did I mention liability? A paper has much more at stake because of its bigger footprint.
I don’t say that print publications or mainstream Web publications have more credibility than I do, but I do say they have more at stake.
(Note another Movable Type site, too. MT could easily integrate with the Times’s existing data operations.)
Another Oh, Boy, Maine 8th Graders Have Laptops story. You’ll note that the story teases us that there have been noticeable results. But when you read the article, you find vague statements by administrators and only a single concrete anecdotal piece of information with a number in it from one school.
One administrator notes 2 detention notices this year versus 30 last year. Since those are not objective measurements — other policy changes could have helped, or the computers could have reduced rowdiness just enough to lower the threshold or the administrator could have been under pressure to not issue detention notices in order to keep the computer project a success — this doesn’t tell us squat.
This is another in a series of articles in many publications that have a positive tone about the value of the 8th grade Maine laptop program without any quantitative results.
The writer does point out that people are looking five years down the line: does this increase college attendance?
The writer doesn’t point out that money has been put into laptops at a rate that, if applied to remedial education, preschool programs, and tutoring, could conceivably have helped students more immediately.
As a technology guy, I love the idea that kids are being more directly exposed to the kind of interaction that will dominate their working life if they wind up in any white collar job, and will be part of their life in any blue collar job.
But I wish they were actually treating this as an experiment — the article said they were gathering lots of information — so that it was possible to judge whether the $37 million spent for this program couldn’t have been better used elsewhere.
The article notes in that in Freeport, 90 percent of the kids have computers at home, but more remarkably, in a rural city surveyed, 35 percent have them. The schools ostensibly have computer labs. Why do kids need computers, which can distract not focus attention, every hour of the day in school?
Anyone who has attended a conference recently with Wi-Fi access and sufficient electricity has heard the sound of blogging and work during every session, noticed downturned heads typing: that light rain sussuration that falls on the blog and the unblog alike.
Does this need to be in the schools? Computers are a tool, not an answer.
Glenn No. 1, Glenn Reynolds, writes a bit about Wi-Fi. Reynolds is a leading political blogger. In one of those Lincoln-Kennedy situations, he’s the Instapundit and I’m the Unsolicited Pundit. We Glenns are catchy.
My desktop PC died weirdly a few weeks ago after months of chugging away. I went on the magical mystery PC experience that rebuilding a PC is all about. Ran Windows XP repair. Sort of worked. Kept failing. Put in a new, larger hard drive and installed XP from scratch. Kind of failed.
I figured the motherboard must have gone bad, so bought from Provantage a new motherboard that supported a Pentium 4, and a Pentium 4. All kind of cheap, as I don’t use this machine except for testing and Windows-only programs.
Installed it, but noticed it needed DDR333 RAM, not the PC100 RAM I already had. Okay, order RAM. Days go by. RAM arrives. Install. Hmm…not booting. Download manual (had accidentally given it away with old motherboard.) What’s this special plug? Ah, Pentium 4’s need a different power supply that has a special plug to power it separately.
Order power supply. Install. Will boot, no video display. The AGP+ card I had wouldn’t work; incompatible. True, it came from an old Mac, but it was an Nvidia brand! Order video card. It arrives. Install. Boot from CD-ROM. Install Windows XP.
And miracle of miracles, new, fast, zippy machine. The total cost wound up being something like $500 to $600 with all the parts and shipping. But a good experience for a neophyte configurer like myself. I’m always surprised to buy components these days, as the video card is about $60, 512 Mb of RAM was about $60, the power supply was $50.
I’m feeling old when everything seems cheap—the reverse of “I remember when bread was a nickel.”
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