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Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, July 19, 2000. Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Today's *really* big news 

AP: Taco Bell replaces CEO, and Chihuahua too. "The Chihuahua has faded from ads in recent months as Taco Bell decided to focus on its low-price menu items. Second-quarter results released Tuesday showed sales at Taco Bell restaurants open for at least a year dropped 6 percent."

5/6/98: "The dog is cool, and Taco Bell owns him, for a while. Then some ad guy at some agency realizes that he could get a dog too and that dog could eat dog food and like all dogs that we love, the dog farts. Yay!"

I'll miss you, my little Mexican friend!

Thanks for the credit! But.. 

Upside: "Companies like UserLand Software, which develops content management software for Web publishers, have perfected systems for easy upgrades: with UserLand's Frontier, the user simply clicks on 'Update' in a menu."

This reminds me of a story. In 1983, I got a call from a fact-checker for NY Times' columnist William Safire. He was doing a column on words the computer industry had introduced into the English language. I found out later that Safire is considered authoritative on these matters.

They wanted to verify that I had coined the term "laptop", since I had the first usage of the term in an article I co-authored with my brother in Byte. I said no, I didn't invent the term, I had heard it used by Esther Dyson. I still got a mention in the column, but what if I had just said yes? So many other people would have, I learned later in my career.

Anyway, in that spirit, I decided we should have one-click updates after seeing a demo of Windows 98, which had the feature. So credit for inventing this, as far as I'm concerned, goes to Microsoft. On the other hand, we're doing more of this kind of stuff in future products, as you can see people really like easy updating. (Me too!)

BTW, the feature is implemented with XML-RPC.

Another BTW, it got even easier in 6.1. You just click a checkbox in the Control Panel, and updates happen automatically around midnight local time.

What about P2P? 

Yesterday I threw in the towel, and decided to go crazy with everyone else. P2P all the way!

However, it's not about P2P, specifically, that people should be getting excited. It's the realization that there's a lot more than a dumb terminal and a dumb human at the end of the net connection.

We're not just eyeballs, we create stuff too. And the PCs are powerful things, capable of doing much more than being an HTML browser and MP3 player. I'm getting a new machine any day now that runs at 900Mhz and has a 70+ gigabyte hard drive. Today's machines are marvels of power, much of it untapped.

It's quite possible to use the Internet to store user-authored stuff, with no compromise to anyone's intellectual property, and for those applications, having a central server is kinder to the Internet. Don't misunderstand, I *love* the idea of a distributed Internet, but you still have to have common resources. Servers are still important.

Evhead is blissing out on AppleSoup P2P crap. "Supposedly, they're going to take the concept of Napster and incorporate payment schemes so people can do legitimate copying. But then what is the point of the peer-to-peer thing? If I'm going to pay for content, I want to download it from a server with a high speed connection -- not from some random person's PC, who might go offline at any moment."

Oh the bliss of enlightenment. The problem is two-fold. Evan has a brain, and integrity.

Hard to get excited over this deal 

CNET buys ZDNet. As far as I know, neither publication has an editorial page, so there's no place to turn for an internal comment, perspective or point of view on this deal.

What was ZDNet? I was confused. It's a remnant of Ziff-Davis, one of the pioneers of the PC era, however some of the magazines are not part of ZDNet.

Tucker Goodrich: "CNET is buying all of Ziff-Davis, except for the tradeshow business, which will be spun-off to ZD shareholders. CNET is also buying ZDNet, which is the Internet businesses of ZD, and is 83.9% owned by ZD. the remainder of ZDNet is publicly traded."

Tim Bray: "Looks to me like the interesting part of that story is that Seybold is independent again, if I read it correctly."

As far as I'm concerned, neither publication broke out of the mold of the computer industry press. Their articles are often quotable, and helpful for breaking news, but they usually get just soundbites, and rarely go deeper than the surface.

Wired: Why CNET bought ZDNet.

MacInTouch is here 

Earlier today I ran a survey here asking if people could get through to MacInTouch. I couldn't get through, but most other people could.

Even so, Apple's hardball tactics with independent journalists are not welcome. In the big picture a company's supposed right to keep its products secret is not a publicly guaranteed right comparable with the right to free speech.

Given a choice, I'd prefer to know what MacInTouch thinks; I have little regard for company press releases.

BTW, Apple enthusiasts can be really tough. They get so personal so quickly. Their efforts to keep people intimidated backfire, they drive us away. FYI, there is foundation for believing Apple plays hardball with independent journalists. Imho, this is a much bigger story than more megahertz, or a new mouse or keyboard or form factor.

OK, just to show that I'm a reasonable person, let me argue this from an Apple point of view. And a rebuttal, from my own pov.

For Apple news I recommend AppleSurf.

Speaking of Macs 

Emailing with Woz today about Napster, I said "The Mac is behind in this area. We must help Napster get their Mac version working. Think of all the musicians that use Macs. They don't know how cool it is."

He said: "There is Macster. My son uses it but I had horrible problems one night. I'd create an account and the password I created would be declared incorrect when I tried to log on, except for two times. I haven't tried it this week, but I'll give them another chance soon."

Reading his site, I learned that the big banner on the side of Apple, facing 280, is not Woz. He says: "It's Francis Ford Coppola, whom I resemble." Wow! I was fooled too.

Open Source Convention 

Right now the O'Reilly Open Source Convention is going on in Monterey, CA. Are you there? It's been very quiet, haven't seen any reports. If you're there, please post a report on the discussion group and I'll link to it tomorrow. What's going on? Tell us more. Tell us something. Or don't.


Last update: Wednesday, July 19, 2000 at 8:57 PM Eastern.

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