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Month: January 2004

Twin masters

The killer combo is the War College report on the foolhardiness of war on Iraq plus the unsurprising revelation that Bush wanted to go to war with Iraq from day one.

The first story confirms that Iraq is a distraction from the dangers of Al Qaeda. The second story explains why Bush would allow himself to be distracted. It’s time to give up on the claim that Bush knows things we don’t about Iraq’s danger to the United States.

Further, it’s time to stop claiming that Saddam’s defiance of the UN justified the invasion. Even if you still believe that Saddam was hiding WMD from Blix, it doesn’t matter. What’s more important: deposing Saddam (and remember that the UN had inspectors on the ground looking for WMD), or dealing with Al Qaeda? Even if you think Iraq was important, do you think it was more important than the people who blew up the World Trade Center?

Phil Carter has some nice additional commentary on the War College report.

Monday Mashup #23: Robin Hood

Today we’re gonna mashup Robin Hood. Yeah, there’s a thematic link to last week’s mashup there; it must be the long winter nights getting to me. The core of it all is the old steal from the rich, give to the poor thing — and from there on in it’s all about the variations. Merry Men, Maid Marian, kings away at the wars: what’s not to like?

A tip of the hat to GURPS Robin Hood seems in order as well.

Oh, and a reminder: there’s a mailing list for the weekly announcement of this writing meme and Game WISH. It’s free, and who doesn’t like free? Now, on to the mashup.

Time and place

Say what you will about Dean’s mythical temper (Real Video, will likely go away soonish), but I can’t see how he was out of line here. You get up at a Democrat’s stump speech, you call the candidate pompous and mean-mouthed, and then you try to interrupt him when he responds to you — perhaps just maybe you ought to expect to be told to sit down.


I’m not a big reality show guy, although I watched the first couple seasons of Tough Enough. However, my TiVo enables all kinds of degenerate behavior, including reality TV addiction, so I figured I’d watch a couple of episodes of The Apprentice. The basic setup is simple; Donald Trump brings in 8 men and 8 women to compete for a job with him. They split up into two teams, men versus women, and every week they have a different competition. At the end of each show, Trump fires someone from the losing team.

The first week’s competition was selling lemonade. Both teams were fairly pathetic. The women were exceedingly disorganized, but managed good sales by selling lemonade at five bucks a shot with a helping of sex appeal on the side. Seriously. One of ‘em was hawking her phone number along with the lemonade. The men were fairly well organized but hampered by the inherent difficulty of selling lemonade when you’re wearing a tie.

If you figure it by sales volume, assuming the startup costs were around $50 and the guys were selling lemonade at $1.50 per glass on average, the men and the women both sold around 200 glasses based on the final asset figures quoted at the end of the show. I’d call it a tie, but that’s me. It’s pretty reasonable to set up uneven competitions, which I figure is what was going on, even if Trump didn’t acknowledge that he was doing it.

What really disappointed me is that nobody got clever. Trying to sell a glass of lemonade for a thousand bucks doesn’t count as clever, it counts as stupid. You don’t need a full team of eight people to sell lemonade; either split the teams so you’ve got two teams of four at good locations, or put four people on individual lemonade sales and put four people at figuring out some way to sell en masse. Sell lemonade on the subway. Get creative. You aren’t competing for a sales job, you’re competing for an executive job, so act like executives instead of competing on individual sales ability.

The men looked terrible in the segment where Trump chose his victim, anyhow. If I’m managing a team, and Trump asks me “who’s the weakest guy on your team?” I’m gonna say “Sir, I’m not going to damage the cohesion of this team by criticizing one person in front of everyone else. I’d be happy to express those criticisms with you and the person in question in private, but I’m not going to do it in public.” I’d say something similar as a rank and file team member, for that matter. It’s better business and it’s better reality TV show strategy.

That’s probably going to be the main failing of the show, though; it’d take some pretty amazing management style to get through a competitive process like this while still displaying good team leadership qualities. Troy, who got stuck with the management role this time, was very rough on Sam in front of everyone else. He clearly thought Sam was going to be fired, but Sam’s going to be there with him for at least a little while longer. Ooops.

I suppose it’s a test of who can work well together despite personal feelings. Still, once you’ve said you don’t trust someone on a business level, how do you explain why you’re delegating to them next time around?

And yes; this is my Mr. Sterling for this year.

Motion like molasses

There’s a smidgen of movement in the White Wolf vs. Sony case. On 12/26/03, someone filed a proposed revised expedited discovery consent order. On 1/6/04, White Wolf moved for leave to file an amended and supplemented complaint.

There are two major changes requested:

  • Addition of claims for infringement of Under A Blood Red Moon and Time of Thin Blood.
  • Clarification that the claims relate not only to the movie but to the entire Underworld IP.

And then there’s a lot of explanation as to why the changes should be permitted, which I am not competent to judge. I’ll get the PDF up as soon as I can.

Broken, but

Coming this fall: TiVo to computer functionality. It’s not what I’d like, since you don’t get full functionality — it’s some encrypted video format. Mind you, DRM is generally broken… but in any case, it’s more than we had before. I would very much like to be able to easily copy programs from my TiVo to a DVD.

Cory Doctorow, bless him, is up in arms. However, I think his analogies suck. While TiVo is a disruptive technology business, it is not much like steam engines. It’s a different delivery mechanism rather than a new media form.

And as such, right now, it’s dependent on the content providers who TiVo is attempting to pacify. TiVo, as a company, gets absolutely nothing from the legions of amateur moviemakers out there. It doesn’t have a business model without the networks. TiVo has little choice about pacifying the networks. It sucks, but it’s true.

And when Cory says “There is no market demand for TiVo’s DRM,” he’s right. But there is going to be market demand for what TiVo is offering, even if there’d be more market demand for the same thing sans DRM. TiVo has to decide if they’ll make more money by removing DRM after figuring in the cost of lawsuits.

I’m inclined to cut TiVo some slack. They’ve introduced the disruptive technology to the mainstream. Someone had to take that risk, and it wasn’t going to be the open source community. MythTV is great but it’s not the innovator; that’s TiVo. I appreciate what they’ve done.

And now I hope that someone does pre-package MythTV as a commercial offering without DRM. That’d be great. I’m just not going to savage TiVO for not going as far as I’d like.

Over the years

Since it’s the 20th anniversary:

128K Mac (original; later upgraded to 512K Fat Mac)
Mac SE/20
Mac SE/30
Performa 630
Performa 6400 (later ran linux on this)
G3/450 (currently next to me running OpenBSD)

iBook tangerine clamshell
iBook SE Firewire
Powerbook 12” G4/1 GHz

Loved ‘em all.