Halloween, Daylight Saving Time, Bill Gates' new company and other mysterious things I've read this week
Here's a blast from the past (December 2006): What do candy, Microsoft products and Congress have in common? You can read more about this in the latest news on the subject. If you thought tracking the machinations of various daylight saving time and time zone changes around the world was tough, Paul Tennant of the Eagle-Tribune reports that in Haverhill (MA), trick-or-treating is Saturday night this (and every) year rather than on Friday, October 31.
"While Halloween is always Oct. 31, in Haverhill trick-or-treating is always the fourth Saturday of October. This year it will be Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. City Human Services Director Vincent Ouellette said that the earlier time for trick-or-treating was established several years ago by the mayor and City Council for safety reasons.
"There is a lot less traffic on a Saturday night," said Ouellette, who supervises the Recreation Department. Also because it is still daylight saving time, having trick-or-treating between 5 and 7 Saturday gives people an extra hour of daylight, he said."
"After killing and dissecting an endless amount of Lego minifigs, artist/designer/mad doctor Jason Freeny has created the definitive anatomy map of the iconic figure, showing all the details and naughty bigs that we weren't able to catch in our exclusive tour to Lego Minifig factory in Denmark. Jason has plenty of experience on cutting apart other species too, like gummy bears and balloon animals…"
And a bit of Halloween-inspired humour from YouTube - The Dark Knight Trailer Recut - Toy Story 2. It really must be seen to be fully appreciated.
And last for this scary holiday, a real fear fest with a humourous bite: The Financial Crisis, as Explained to My Fourteen-Year-Old Sister — The Bygone Bureau. "You’re 14 and have no source of income. What would convince me to lend you money if I’m not sure you can pay it back?"
Surely my boys have read this post and are preparing to leverage their extensive collection of Pokémon and other "valuable" trading cards to help finance their next major investment, likely a heavily leveraged credit default swap fund or collateralized debt obligations.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
CNET reported how Mac buyers may face an "Apple tax" (October 13, 2008). Ina Fried posted that "Apple may offer lower-priced machines on Tuesday, but one top Microsoft official said Monday that Mac buyers will still be paying an "Apple tax" following her interview with Brad Brooks, the vice president of the Windows Consumer Product Marketing team.
TechBlog: Updated: Want proof that Microsoft is feeling threatened by Apple?: October 13, 2008 -- "Updated: Want proof that Microsoft is feeling threatened by Apple? "In the past, when Apple has been on the eve of releasing new notebooks or desktops, Microsoft has let that event pass. Maybe the company would make a spokesperson available to react to the announcement, but that's about it."
Bill Gates' mysterious new company - TechFlash: Seattle's Technology News Source -- Bill Gates' mysterious new company By Todd Bishop and Eric Engleman on Oct 22, 2008 at 11:38 AM – "The bgC3 logo.Just months after his Microsoft farewell, Bill Gates is quietly creating a new company -- complete with high-tech office space, a cryptic name and even its own trademark. Public documents describe the new Gates entity -- bgC3 LLC -- as a “think tank.” It’s housed within a Kirkland office that the Microsoft co-founder established on his own after leaving his day-to-day executive role at the company this summer." Also see BGC3.com, not to be confused with "m3"
Windows 7: A Turning Point for Microsoft? - PC Magazine's Lance Ulanoff posts that "Microsoft reverses the years-long practice of building everything under the sun into its popular personal computer platform. The now officially named Windows 7 carries the heavy burden of Vista's disappointments. Consumers, business users, and pundits have foisted such high expectations on the currently in development OS's back, that it will be a miracle if the final result satisfies anyone. However, lost amid all the hand-wringing is Microsoft's startling decision to lighten Windows 7's load. "In a stunning reversal, Microsoft announced that future versions of Windows would no longer feature e-mail, contact management, calendar, photo management, and moviemaking in the initial install. Instead, Microsoft customers will be encouraged to download these apps from Windows Live online services."
Want to go back to school? Then you'll take interest in in how Yale's MBA dean will found Apple University – (October 22, 2008 1:50 PM as posted by Tom Krazit) "Joel Podolny will leave his position as dean of Yale's business school to join Apple in early 2009. Apple has hired the dean of Yale's School of Management to head up a new program called Apple University. It's not clear exactly what Joel Podolny will be working on at Apple..."
Selling Computers Without Performance Anxiety? – Rob Pegoraro posted (October 20, 2008) that "Something odd is happening in the personal-computer business: While a lot of manufacturers still lead off their ads with the usual blizzard of numbers -- processor speed, installed RAM, hard-drive capacity -- some new models come with sales pitches that largely ignore those traditional performance metrics."
"Apple's new MacBook and MacBook Pro may be the most public example of this -- the company's presentations for each model lead off with a loving description of the new manufacturing process used for each. "But Apple has prominent company in this marketing approach. Dell touts the compact size and environmental appeal of its Studio Hybrid desktop, not how fast it can crunch through an Excel spreadsheet. And this morning, HP announced two new desktops and a monitor, all designed to have a "reduced impact on the environment"; the clock speeds of these PCs' processors was saved for a footnote in the press release."
How Microsoft will compete with 'free' | Outside the Lines - CNET News' has a guest post from Jean-Louis Gassée, who I first met at Apple and nearly worked for at Be a few years later (I didn't pursue the job opening). Gassée cover how "Microsoft's future business model will borrow from both Apple and Google to compete with the free world of software." Gassée is a smart man, and this is a good read.
I also saw this past week how some new Apple ads tweaked Microsoft marketers (October 20, 2008 11:09 AM PDT, posted by Tom Krazit).
"Still, negative advertising, while effective in an election year, grows old. And it plays into the sorely outdated fanboy us vs. them mentality that the vast majority of consumers couldn't care less about; most people in America do not define themselves by the computer that they use, as hard as Apple and Microsoft are trying to make that happen."
"The new ads will get a chuckle out of most viewers, as the polished comedy team of Hodgman and Justin Long could teach Seinfeld and Gates a thing or two. But God forbid that Apple should ever stumble with the rollout of a new operating system; they've taught Microsoft just how to respond."
Annals of Culture: Late Bloomers: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker -- Malcolm Gladwell has an article in the New Yorker (October 20, 2008) and asks "Why do we equate genius with precocity?"
"Thanks to Sabrina for this link. "Genius, in the popular conception, is inextricably tied up with precocity—doing something truly creative, we’re inclined to think, requires the freshness and exuberance and energy of youth. Orson Welles made his masterpiece, “Citizen Kane,” at twenty-five. Herman Melville wrote a book a year through his late twenties, culminating, at age thirty-two, with “Moby-Dick.” Mozart wrote his breakthrough Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat-Major at the age of twenty-one. In some creative forms, like lyric poetry, the importance of precocity has hardened into an iron law."
If you are into the audio, Gladwell also offer Better Late: Online Only: The New Yorker Podcast – "This week in the magazine, Malcolm Gladwell asks why we equate genius with precocity. Here Gladwell talks about how artistic prodigies differ from late bloomers and the kinds of support over decades that some artists need to realize their gifts."
Microsoft fights legal ‘hijack’ of Windows Update – On October 15th, I read how "Microsoft Lawyers representing consumers in a suit over Microsoft's "Windows Vista Capable" marketing program recently proposed distributing the class-action notice via Windows Update — the same mechanism that the company ordinarily uses to automatically send out its security patches. In a new filing in U.S. District Court in Seattle (PDF, 15 pages) the company reacts strongly to the idea." No kidding.
Read Kara Swisher's article on how "Yahoo Shares Dropped on AOL Non-Deal: Here’s Why and What That Means" from AllThingsD
A must download: the Microsoft Security Assessment Tool – The Microsoft Security Assessment Tool (MSAT) is a free tool designed to help organizations like yours assess weaknesses in your current IT security environment, reveal a prioritized list of issues, and help provide specific guidance to minimize those risks. MSAT is an easy, cost-effective way to begin strengthening the security of your computing environment and your business. Begin the process by taking a snapshot of your current security state, and then use MSAT to continuously monitor your infrastructure’s ability to respond to security threats.
Vista Wow Starts Now … at Apple – John Paczkowski of AllThingsD reports that "Apple COO Tim Cook demonstrated a new MacBook running Windows and said this of the "dramatic increase in the Mac’s market share... was driven partially by "something we didn't do: Vista." "I think it's fair to say that Vista hasn't lived up to everything that Microsoft hoped it would,” Cook said. "And consequently, it's opened doors for a lot of people to consider switching to the Mac. And Apple has been the beneficiary of this."