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9 November 1999

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.
-- The 'Conformity' poster by Despair, Inc.

Microsoft == Monopoly? Duh!, as many folks have already said. However, I share with various observers a general wariness toward any 'remedy' that might be forthcoming. I still think that Microsoft's power is waning of its own accord as their products get too big to work properly and too expensive and complex for customers to waste time and money on.

The market is working -- perhaps more slowly than it would have if Microsoft hadn't been stamping other people's innovations out by whatever means necessary for so long, but it is working. Linux coders and Apple are both making strides toward providing better value propositions for people than Microsoft. Give them time, they'll catch the attention of the 'mainstream' market even more.

Also, the fact that MS has been under scrutiny has already been emboldening for the folks they usually bully, the PC makers -- Dell, Gateway and others are planning to offer boxes without Windows loaded on them, which is a big step for both competition and innovation. (Anybody big going to offer BeOS preloaded yet?)

These things are already happening, and desktop machines are becoming somewhat less relevant now anyway; no further action is really required by the government. Everybody go home!

Slap Microsoft with a fine or something, maybe make them publish their secret APIs (but not the Windows source code), but don't change their structure or there will be a mountain of unintended consequences and unnecessary disruptions.

Peter Coffee (a columnist I trust) argues that Judge Jackson didn't get everything right:

  • Analysis: Jackson's ruling reflects serious misunderstandings [Zdnet]
    Jackson's narrative gives IBM and Apple too much credit.

    It was Apple that maintained profit margins substantially greater than those of other PC makers, for as long as its edge in proprietary software made this possible -- until Windows closed, or appeared to PC buyers to close, the gap in ease of use. When PCs appeared to be just as friendly, and were clearly less expensive, Apple's sales imploded, devastating the market for independent software developers.

True enough, and Dave Winer makes a similar point about Netscape -- just because someone doesn't win against Microsoft doesn't mean Microsoft did them in; sometimes failure is the result of someone's own poor execution (or poor strategy).

Still, I don't think the larger conclusion (Monopoly!) is wrong.

Yesterday morning on NBC's Today Show, it was kind of amusing/kind of sickening to listen to Matt Lauer take extra care to emphasize that Microsoft's shareholders shouldn't just dump the stock.

I don't think I heard either Matt or Katie mention that Microsoft is a partner of NBC.

Hey, and are being held for ransom. What, was NBC asleep?

I've been told this month's colors are "obnoxious".

Yeah, that's pretty much what I was going for. :L)

Republican strategist Ralph Reed (remember him?) was on Hardball last night (a show I'm trying not to get in the habit of watching...). They were talking about George W's SAT scores (566 verbal, 640 math), which for some reason made it into the news.

Reed said something along the lines of "Yeah, but no matter who's advising him, I believe he'll always be the smartest person in the room", which is of course A) scary and B) what he has to say, but also: "His scores are higher than most people's."

...speak for yourself, bucko...

Side note: There seem to be no transcripts available, online or off, for either Hardball or The Today Show. Or at least I wasn't able to find them with a quick search. Weird. Annoying.

Lynette M. of Medley notes the new calendar from Despair, Inc. (with 12 new 'Demotivators'!) from which today's quote was taken. I think I'm going to have to get one.

If a man can make $15,000 a month for ineffective and questionable political advice, why can't Naomi Wolf?

Has anybody checked the salaries of everyone else's advisers? Is that information available anywhere?

Oh look, another security hole in Outlook. Give me Eudora or give me Pine!

  • Outlook vulnerable to masquerade attack [CNET]
    Ordinarily, when a Microsoft Outlook user clicks on a file that has been received as an "attachment," the program will ask whether the user wants to open or save the attachment. Programs which exploit the vulnerability, however, fool Outlook into executing the potentially harmful software without asking permission.

    ... The last stage occurs when a JavaScript program in the email then can execute the potentially malicious program...

    To protect against the problem, Security Focus recommends changing the default location for temporary files ... "You can also disable JavaScript," the company said.

Yes, yes, disable JavaScript! Always! Turn it on only when a site won't do what you want it to. You'll have fewer headaches (read: crashes) than if you let all sites do whatever they want to your browser all the time...

Why is an e-mail client executing JavaScript, anyway? That's just asking for trouble.

(Why did CNET quote "attachment"? Heck, they may as well quote "file", "program", "virus" and "software"...)

Newsweek spotlights both Bradley and McCain...count me in as someone who thinks that having these two run against each other and present a choice between opposing but coherent, sincere and reasoned approaches would be refreshing as all hell.

Of course, Newsweek questions whether their authenticity is authentic...sigh. Well, if it's not, it's the closest thing we've got to it.

What, we should want the candidates that do make our skin crawl?

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