Archive for July, 2008
When you thought Hillary Clinton supporters couldn’t go any lower (or get any dumber), here they go again (from The Wall Street Journal):
“He’s too new … and he needs to put some meat on his bones,” says Diana Koenig, 42, a housewife in Corpus Christi, Texas, who says she voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.
“I won’t vote for any beanpole guy,” another Clinton supporter wrote last week on a Yahoo politics message board.
The first woman, I understand. She’s a housewife from Corpus Christi, which is as good as braindead. But this second person …how do you attain such grand wisdom so as to think of choosing political candidates based on the size of their gut? Isn’t this sort of discrimination-based-on-physical-characteristics thing supposed to be drowned out of use, along with racism and sexism?
There is a monumental shift going on in the computing world. Increasingly, users are using web apps instead of those on the desktop. The shift began with email, but now, people are using web apps to create documents, spreadsheets, store photos and video; even rich applications like photo editing are now available inside of the web browser.
With “the platform” shifted to the web, there is no need to use Microsoft Windows anymore. We can use any old OS (Linux/OSX) with FireFox and we’re good to go.
This shift has created a whole new hardware category: netbooks. Netbooks are a cheap and mobile version of the long-heralded “NC”, or network computer. In the 90′s, tech gurus called the death of the PC more than a decade early, and welcomed a future of ultra-cheap NCs. With NCs, they prophecized, we’d store all our data on the web and get by with tiny (<4GB) hard drives, relatively slow processors, no disk drive, and an internet connection.
The ASUS Eee PC was the first netbook to make it on the scene. Its selling point: a $245 price tag, WiFi, a 7″ screen, a 2GB solid-state disk for storage, 256 MB of memory, and Linux. ASUS promptly sold millions of Eee PCs in its first 6 months on sale, and has since expanded the line to include larger models with bigger solid-state disks, bigger screens, more memory, Windows XP pre-loaded, and even a desktop version.
This development is a huge disappointment for Microsoft and all the major computer makers, including Dell, Lenovo, Apple, and HP. Microsoft will be devastated because there will be no reason to pay extra for Windows Vista. The computer makers will lose because there’s no longer any reason to upgrade one’s computer, and computer sales will shift to ultra-low priced (not to mention low-margin) NCs.
This process, as I’ve described it, is already occurring. The best example is Japan, where we’ve seen more than 5 consecutive quarters of falling PC shipments. The reason: most consumers would rather spend money on a new mobile phone (itself a capable mini-computer), video game console (ditto) or flat-screen television over a new PC.
Laptops have seen their share of PC sales increase, but combined sales of PCs and Laptops have fallen.
This is horrible news for the industry, but it’s also an opportunity for innovative firms that can foresee the future of computer use, and build that future into their products. It’s also a victory for consumers, who will presumably pay much less for their hardware going forward.
Apple is poised to unleash its redesigned MacBook/MacBook Pros on us.
AppleInsider reports that Apple “issued an advisement bulletin to some of its channel partners hinting at a manufacturing ramp down of iPods and certain Mac notebook models, which will result in limited supplies of those products in the coming weeks.”
This is standard practice indicating that a new product launch is coming. I believe it will be on us by October 1st at the latest.
What he have to look forward to:
-redesigned/updated iPod Touch
-redesigned MacBook Pro
Apple stock isn’t cheap, but it’s trading at a 15% discount to its price in early June. With these impending product introductions and the ensuing monster sales revenue, Apple shares could be buoyed, but the specter of lower margins due to the entrance of the low-price netbook into the market could be a destabilizing factor. In the end, perhaps, it’s a wash.
The tremor today centered in Chino Hills, CA reminded me of a photo my girlfriend took of me and my friend Charlton last year, inside of the Safeway supermarkey just 15 miles from Chino Hills, in Upland/Claremont:
“Earthquake Kit: $8.99 + tax”
We were sure surprised to see it; definitely one of those things that you’ll only see in California.
On the positive side of the quake: Charlton’s private lemon orchard probably rained down a bounty of citrus:
I called Charlton today. He said he felt the quake all the way in San Diego.
I got this phishing scam in my email box today, and, I must admit, if I was some poor idiot and didn’t notice the numerous grammatical errors, I’ probably would’ve clicked on it:
From: Internal Revenue Service
to: Cameron Newland
date: Jul 29, 2008, 12:34 AM
subject: Tax refund (28371231) $620.50
You have get a Tax Refund on your Visa or MasterCard.
Complete the formular, and get your Tax Refund.
(Your Refund Amount Is $620.50)
Copyright © 2008 – Internal Revenue Service. All rights reserved.
You’d have to be completely retarded to even think about clicking through on this.
A few evenings ago, I was dining at Nordstrom Grill with my girlfriend and there was a table full of young Russian wives, mostly in their early thirties. They were AMAZED, just AMAZED at one woman’s suggestion, that you should never click on links in your email that appear to come from banks because it was obviously a phishing scam targeting your personal information. (Banks often note that they will never ask for your personal information in an email.) This realization was some sort of surprise to some of these women.
Never underestimate society’s insatiable need for mindlessly communicating information that we already know. Just look at Oprah and Dr. Phil. They make their living doing exactly that.
THIS JUST IN! Don’t let your kids meet strange adults on the internet. Exercise and eating well may improve your health. Don’t give out all your personal info if an email requests it. You don’t say!
Bashing Dr. Phil and Oprah for raising awareness among the braindead masses is a little misguided. After all, if it wasn’t these two clowns telling us how to live our lives, we’d probably be taking advice from prescription-drug-swilling talkshow host Rush Limbaugh, the adulterer Jessie Jackson, or, GASP, Bill O’Reilly.
The service that Dr. Phil and Oprah provides is unquestionably positive, I just wish people would be intelligent enough to reason on their own so that they wouldn’t need to rely on television personalities for their conversation material.
Must read for Starbucks fans/customers:
The Coffee Fix: Can the $11,000 Clover Machine Save Starbucks? by Matther Honan, Wired Magazine
Over the last month, Iran’s tone has changed. Now more than ever, a diplomatic solution is looking likely, instead of a military action on behalf of Israel or the United States.
I believe that a diplomatic solution has emerged only because Iran’s defense improvements purchased from Russia aren’t yet operable. Had they been operable now, Iran would be much less likely to come to the bargaining table with the west. The Iranians’ reticence to bargain is partly due to the fact that strongman, anti-Western babble constitutes a legitimately bankable policy: the people like their leader to stand up against the United States. The policy, however domestically convenient, sure isn’t helping international diplomacy along.
How is this going to end? War? More sanctions (which only hurt the Iranian people and fail to sufficiently punish its leaders?
Really, it would be best if both sides stopped beating the chests for one minute, long enough for them to compromise.
If Iran really just wants nuclear energy, they can compromise and buy their nuclear material from others (subsidized by the West) in exchange for shutting down their domestic production effort.
If the United States really just wants peace, they can stop threatening Iran with sanctions and come up with a diplomatic solution that benefits both sides. I really don’t see how threats can be seen as legitimate peace-seeking policy, but then again, with hawkish firebrands like John Bolton having been installed as US ambassadors to the world, what do you expect?
I’ve often heard that the inflatable exit slides and oxygen masks on airline flights are useless in any real emergency, and are really there just to reassure us. After all, in the event of a water landing, everyone would be dead before they’d have the chance to use the exit slide.
I’ve never thought about the dual-use of oxygen masks in the event of an onboard emergency: the masks help to maintain order. A contraption covering everyone’s mouth ensures that nobody will talk; thus anarchy and fear are suppressed because creating chaos requires communication. Who knew that instead of serving oxygen, they’re really there to shut you up?
Earlier today, a Continental flight from Houston to Washington, D.C. demonstrated this theory flawlessly:
“Continental Airline’s personnel and staff were exceptional; executing what seemed to me a textbook performance in emergency procedure. I was very impressed,” [Congressman Nick] Lampson said in a release.
[…] the flight was about an hour late leaving Houston because of mechanical difficulties with an engine. Things went downhill from there not long after taking off from Bush Intercontinental Airport.
“Suddenly, we started to descend more rapidly than normal and the oxygen masks came out,” Poe said. The pilots told everyone to fasten their seatbelts.
“There wasn’t any talk because a lot of people had their oxygen masks on,” according to US Rep. Ted Poe. “Everyone seemed to be quite calm.”
It’s amazing that little mask with instructions can keep people so calm in chaotic circumstances. What will they think of next?
Apple stock has fallen 14.5% in the last two weeks, to $153/share (it sold for as little as $147 this morning). Apple has just reported third-quarter earnings, and though they beat expectations, their tempered outlook for the future gave analysts cold feet and sent shares lower. Steve Jobs’ health problems surely didn’t make analysts any happier.
Mac sales, however, are through the roof. This is particularly cheery news considering Mac computers haven’t had any significant redesign (less the MacBook Air) in ages. If people are going nuts buying the old, outdated Macs, they’ll surely buy more of them (or pay a bigger premium for them) once the redesigned MacBook Pros/MacBooks are available (sometime in the next 12 months). Count me as one of those who is waiting for the redesign(s) to buy a new Mac.
This quarter’s iPhone sales clocked in at only 717,000, due to the shortage of first-generation iPhones prior to the iPhone 3G’s launch (remember, 1 million iPhone 3G’s were sold in the opening weekend alone). Next quarter’s report will be much more telling as to the iPhone 3G’s sales numbers, which will be stellar (somewhere in the realm of 2 or 3 million units).
Apple stock is no bargain even after its recent fall, but those growth investors looking for a well-branded firm with solid growth prospects and a reliable track record of innovative design (not to mention intense consumer loyalty) need look no further. Apple isn’t leaving the stage anytime soon.
VintageSeattle.org just threw up some of the first Space Needle mockups, made before the World Fair in 1962:
Check it out.
My Motorola Q9C tethers easily to my MacBook running Vista so that I can browse the internet at broadband speeds from anywhere, even on a Metro bus. The iPhone didn’t allow this sort of tethering (in fact, it’s banned in the service agreement).
That’s changed as of today. The hack isn’t convenient, but it works.
Check it out over at http://cre.ations.net.
I’ve translated the following from a Spanish-language article from El Blog Salmon: Europa ayuda a Africa de la peor forma
The European Commission has proposed an aid package to poor African farmers in light of rising global food prices.
The idea is to help them with auxiliary goods, including seed and fertilizer, so that they can increase production. In the midst of rising prices, this production bump is to have a double positive-impact for poor farmers: more production and higher prices for their goods.
This all sounds good and fine; however, there are two problems with the announced project.
First, the €1.5 billion that have been announced for the project will come from leftover funds from the EU’s agricultural subsidy fund. If there would have been €2 billion left instead, would that have been the amount of aid given to African farmers? And had there been nothing left in the fund, where would this agricultural aid project’s budget come from?
This is definitely not the way you finance a serious aid project. If the project is legitimate, there would have been a professional evaluation of project cost and financing would come from the pertinent fund, as opposed to being sourced from unplanned leftovers.
It sounds like the authorities are wasting this money that’s ended up in their coffers instead of spending it on a project that’s considered necessary and important.
The second problem: the project changes nothing with respect to the repressive agricultural policy of the EU. Under the proposal, African farmers could indeed produce more and will benefit because global food prices are indeed high, but the EU still won’t let African farmers sell their goods in the EU, so how are we to believe that any of this is helping the Africans in the long-term?
We’re all for aid to the poor in Africa, put this stands as just another botched job by the Europeans.
Pope Benedict, speaking to the people of Australia, said today that the world’s natural resources are being squandered in the pursuit of “insatiable consumption.” What he didn’t tell you was that his position on family planning ensures that our world is less sustainable than ever.
“Perhaps reluctantly we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth: erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption,” he said.
The Pope failed to note that his policy of denying condoms and birth control to developing nations allows for irresponsible and unsustainable population growth, which increases human resource usage and damages our planet. Such irresponsible policy simply forces our future generations to deal with the problem of environmental destruction, though they will be even less able to act because of their untenable population.
“The concerns for nonviolence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity,” Benedict told the crowd.
My question has always been, “why does the Pope support this garbage population policy that only destabilizes humanity and brings us closer to the demons the church so opposes?”
The answer lies in plain sight. First, the Church thrives off instability. Those who have nothing often come to the Church as a last hope and seek salvation, which the Church is only so happy to provide –in exchange for complete devotion.
The second reason that the Church supports unsustainable population growth is that doing so furthers its own means. Membership has risen exponentially in the last 200 years. In 1970, the Church counted some 654 million adherents. In 2007, due to a lack of family planning in church ranks, membership now numbers 1.131 billion — a 73% increase.
What the world needs is reason, and little or none of it is coming out of the Catholic Church. To them, it’s like the Enlightenment never happened!
At the Karachi Stock Exchange:
In Karachi investors today broke windows, threw plant holders in the parking lot of the building, burned shareholder statements and at least one protester was injured, prompting intervention by police and the paramilitary.
“We demand that all stock prices be frozen at current levels,” said a fellow called Kauser Javed, who heads the Small Investors Association.
Hopefully, the Small Investors Association will learn their lesson. Stocks are the best tool for building wealth, but at times they can be volatile. The wealth you build in stocks may only be apparent in the long term, when the upside and downside volatility is averaged out.
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