Monday, July 31, 2006

It's time to redeploy from Iraq

President Bush has justified our involvement in Iraq by making statements like the following:
"We will defeat the enemy there so we don't have to face them here. And at the same time, we will work to see that Iraq is free."
When I first heard this, I wondered how Iraqis would feel if they heard this. Would they appreciate being the prime battleground for the global War on Terror? It turns out that they figured it out on their own what was really going on. From the New York Times:
Two high-ranking Iraqi government officials said today that their country was fighting international terrorists on its own soil on behalf of other countries and, as a result, should be compensated with economic and military assistance.
I hope they don't want us to foot the bill.[I wonder who they're addressing...] Despite the Bush administration's "best intentions" of fighting the global terror proxy war in Iraq with US and Iraqi troops, the death toll from internal violence (civil war) has exceeded that of terrorism. Our current involvement equates to a disabling of US military force and a depletion of our so called budget (aka, skyrocketing deficits over the past and next couple of years).

At a time attacks are on the rise (doubled from 2004) and our soldiers dying almost as fast as they were two years ago, 100 civilians being killed each day, maybe we should start to consider Congressman Murtha's 10-month-old plan for redeploying our troops from Iraq as the best strategic choice.

[UPDATED 21:45 EST | I recently found out about presidential candidate Mark Warner, who is a seasoned politician and successful businessman. He supports net neutrality and seems to have a good chance without a lot of baggage like Hillary Clinton. According to the linked article at Slate, Warner feels he can compensate for not having much foreign policy experience by leveraging his skills as an executive. Warner doesn't support withdrawal, feeling that it will lead to a collapse of the Iraqi government. I think that we need to start fresh with the right objective, necessary allies, and make sure we're not digging ourselves too deep.]

Source: Strength By Redeployment (statistics),,

Last two days to pre-order the Optimus mini three

If you've heard of the Optimus Keyboard, then you may know of the mini which serves as 3 multi-function shortcut keys with OLED displays. You can write your own plugins, but it looks like they plan to support a bunch of apps including Office, Adobe CS, etc.

optimus mini three-key keyboard

Image used without permission :/

Just a friendly reminder to both you and me, but after Tuesday, August 1, the price jumps 25% from $120 to $160. Windows only at first.

SOURCE: Digg (for the mini), although I believe I was sametimed about the original keyboard.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray

HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray is becoming a classic case of superior implementation vs. superior stats. While Blu-Ray has higher potential capacities, data-rates and greater potential interactivity due to it's Java support, HD-DVD has a simpler web-scripting based technology called iHD, mandatory dual-encoder inclusion, persistent storage, and a network interface.

It really took listening to a podcast from a Microsoft XBOX marketer for half an hour to blow my 'Blu-Ray is technologically better' bubble. The truth is that the Blu-Ray we're expecting is still in the works. Due to it's simplicity, HD-DVD content-providers achieved a lot of its potential advancement in a relatively short time, while Blu-Ray discs have no where approached theirs. Implementation is what really matters. HD-DVD has employed Microsoft's VC-1 compression to overcome Blu-Ray's future capacity advantage, while Blu-Ray discs currently use MPEG-2 (even though H.264 and VC-1 are supported).

Meanwhile, neither camp has settled their respective formats and there is news of HD-DVD discs being incompatible with certain HD-DVD players. Future firmware upgrades will address issues such as these but their presence indicates that it isn't too late for Blu-Ray content-providers to show the market whether their alternate standard is up to snuff.

MORE: XBOX Live's Major Nelson: Show #183 The one about HD-DVD via [Addicted to Digital Media]

edited for clarity

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Settlement approval is good news

Just wondering why Google's stock is down, especially since the 90 million dollar class action settlement, which was originally met with objection and a rush by some advertisers to exit the class in order to be entitled to further compensation has been approved following an independent report by an NYU Information Systems professor. It appears that the terms were fairly beneficial to all parties, seeing that the advertisers who were (at least) originally unsatisfied with Google's attempts to thwart click-fraud get some free advertising and that Google has significantly increased transparency over how it handles click-fraud, first with opening its operations to a suprising level of scrutiny as well as showing AdWords customers how many invalid clicks Google is catching.

SOURCES: Official Google Blog, BetaNews, Download Squad

Monday, July 24, 2006

Two, maybe three, official Zune links

Thanks to CNET's blogma blog, we have two links to official Zune sites. A product information site (sign up for a funny wallpaper plus updates) called and a blog called ZuneInsider authored by Microsoft employees.

Very interesting. [The ComingZune site teases with phrases like "thanks for sharing" and "we're all friends here".] One thing that might play a role in the Zune software is that old Microsoft patent about using software to train users and then letting then describe and categorize music in many new and interesting ways (mood, rhythm, etc.)

SOURCE: Blogma and Techdirt

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I'm giving jogging a shot

So you don't get disappointed [in the least] with [the] Nike+iPod [Sport Kit], here are couple of things you might not have known about it.

First, it has a non-replaceable battery. Second, I couldn't get the sensor and receiver out without damaging the packaging. Third, It doesn't record a heck of a lot of distance vs. time data points as I would've liked. Whether that's enough is another story.

For example, for a 20 minute jog then a 10 minute walk, it graphed about 6 data points. Fourth, a nice thing you can get is a nice long continuous sequence of workout music where a guy talks you through your run. That's extra stuff that you have to pay for.

Asides from those surprises, the Nike+iPod kit was great to use just by sticking it under my laces (I'll probably go the velcro way promoted on digg) and sticking some masking tape over it just to be safe. Even though it runs on batteries, I think as long as you're not moving it, it doesn't consume much and presumably lasts a long time or at least your 30 dollars worth. There is a button underneath that lets you turn it off on an airplane.

Some nice features of the site are the ability to track your last 1000 runs and being able to challenge fellow 'community members' to races and when you dock your score, it'll compare the result with your challengee and declare a winner.

Anyone up for a challenge? A really easy one?

[And, what you probably did know is that it only works with iPod nano and it doesn't do magic. I found that even the power song was unable to keep me from slowing down to a walk as you can see from the chart. I think it's a matter of conditioning.]

Text in brackets added 2:39 AM

Friday, July 21, 2006

Google Inc. doesn't disappoint

I got a lot more information from the Q/A session than from the prepared portion of the Q2 2006 conference call, but the gist is that Google is happy to have done well in what is a "seasonally weak" quarter. They're stock price didn't change too much at the end of the day, which probably means people are not too surprised. That as opposed to Yahoo, who dropped 20 percent cause they waited too long to announce a delay in their service upgrades.

Here's what I thought was worth sharing from the Q/A session:
  • Distribution deals relating to the Google Toolbar (presumably with companies like Adobe) cost Google on the order of 24 million according to a question-asker during the Q/A session.)
  • In response to a question about macroeconomic issues, Google remarks anecdotally that after 9-11, while they thought customers would cut back in spending, they experienced accelerated customer aquisition. They take this as a testament to the cost efficacy and reliability of advertising through Google.
  • Customers have larger budgets than Google can deliver on, so they're working on increasing inventory (more effective ads like video, increasing number of adsense publishers, ad real estate). In otherwords, when a customer says, place 5000 dollars worth of relevant ads and Google can't satisfy demand.
  • Net neutrality: Google doesn't foresee itself being significantly impacted by a compromise of net neutrality. Why? They have good relationships with ISPs and they have good content that is virtually essential. If ISPs were to start charging more for premium content, Google would probably be part of the package. They could probably get into the ISP game themselves in one way or another. They fight for it because it helps internet companies like themselves a couple of years ago (who'll probably be their customers or provide content for them to index). Finally, they mention how while the internet is fast, end-user access is slow and bottlenecked to the point where if ISPs want to upgrade this connectivity for end-users, they'd want to make tons of money from it. However, this seems to only be a problem in the US, as other developed countries don't have that "last mile" bottleneck and don't have an issue with net neutrality. I think that was Sergei talking.
  • Google isn't using Google Checkout to charge advertisers per purchase and before doing so would inform users that their data is being used in such a way. Google has a page that explains Checkout very nicely. In principle, Checkout could help people sell stuff with low processing costs no matter how they market it but there are big pluses for AdWords customers. For example, processing is free/discounted proportional to Adwords spending, etc.

SOURCE: their webcast

Bush finally addresses NAACP

... and doesn't once mention the war on terror. Times coverage and the original speech. Seemed like he did it as a personal favor to the current President of the NAACP.

I'd be curious to know, however, why he pronounced it N A A C P instead of N double-A CP.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Notes from Apple's Q3 2006 webcast

categorized under I'll post good news about CREAF when I find it

Apple always finds some excuse to be conservative in forecasting future profits. Last time, it was delayed purchases for the Intel transition (which was still the case this last quarter with respect to their 'pro' line in anticipation of the new Core 2 Duo-based Mac Pros and the Adobe product suite's transition to Universal binaries that can be natively run on Intel Macs). This time, it's that we can't expect a repeat of the fantastic components market we had last quarter or past Tiger/iLife-driven sales.

But, great news overall. iPod sales were relatively flat, which was expected, but education (highest in 210 years against what was thought to be a shrinking market), back-to-school sales (free iPod nano with Mac purchase), and portable Mac sales (new Macbooks and Pros) were great. Interesting tidbits include:
  • Ninety something percent growth in non-iPod music related revenue (accessories/made-for-iPod licensing program, iTunes (probably less so)
  • Investing heavily in iPod and iTunes (maybe a quote, not sure), very confident in product pipeline.
  • 50% of Mac buyers at retail stores are new to the platform (switchers). I stand corrected on my previous speculation.
  • 12% of portables market share up from 6 according to someone (check webcast), in the course of just 6 months (Jan-June '06) (have to check this out later)
  • Can't forget about the Apple employees selling Macs at Best Buy pilots started not too long ago.
  • [Out there: Possibly working/collaborating on developing better music phones (although at this point, I can't imagine how this could be), saying that phones today don't make the best music players and soon later saying that they're not sitting around doing nothing (I'm not sure this isn't referencing their continued work with Motorola, but this was in response to a question about Sony Ericsson's succees with music phones elsewhere.]

SOURCE: [Apple Computer, Inc.] Conference Call Webcast

Earnings webcasts for Apple and Google

Apple is due to announce their quarterly earnings today at 5PM ET (2PM PT). You can listen to their earnings conference call or catch it later in their earnings podcast. Tomorrow, Google follows suit but a half-hour earlier at 1:30PM PT, so check their page at 4:30PM on Thursday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Just 6 days ago, we saw on digg that South Korea decided to earmark 150 billion over the next 5 years to enhance their capacity for national defense. That amounts (annually) to more than a 20 percent increase over their estimated military spending for 2005 according to the CIA World Factbook.

China, which already spends in excess of that amount, aims to spend 150 billion over the same time span to address their own pressing problem--no, not North Korea--environmental pollution. Take for example this factoid from the Wall Street Journal, that China dumps 40% of its contaminated water into the river it's spent on the order of 25 billions to dam exacerbating a projected shortage of water for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

SOURCE: digg, wsj asia, [BBC News]

That was rather pointless

Today, I finally caved and sold my Creative stock (x100) and bought some Apple stock (x10) back. I figured, keeping the money in AAPL was probably better. This analysis pretty much sums up what I had been afraid of for a couple of weeks. Apple's quarterly conference call is tomorrow afternoon and today's as good a day as any. Other times I've considered making the switch*:
  • After Microsoft makes their iPod killer announcement.People know about this already and the announcement will probably be after whatever Apple announces at WWDC.
  • After their settlement with Creative.Any settlement is probably good news for both parties.
  • After their earnings are publicized. No... There's been pessimism about Apple lately (iPod delays, Microsoft competition) that's probably, well, not justified. I think people just need to be reassured.
*I didn't really want to add any money to my brokerage account, hence I had to sell Creative before buying AAPL.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Verging on a nightmare

Pirates 2 gave me this weird dream where I refused for the duration of a meal to eat a thumping brain. I ate the accompanying cold-noodles, though.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Not preaching to the choir

I can finally see how those Apple ads may not be as effective as I had thought they would be. I'm not sure who Apple PR was (NOT WERE) targeting, but if they were as obnoxious as this parody (you like I may not have been able to see them before due to high traffic) makes them look, most purchases of new Macs were probably by existing Mac users/iPod snobs like me.

SOURCE: gizmodo and nadyne

Saturday, July 08, 2006

My Inspironic Anatomic Ignorance

Amazing. All this time and I didn't even know about the coolest part of my Dell laptop: the battery has a built in charge meter. Of course, I always saw it but wondered why it never lighted up. Now, I know. I have to push the little circle! It has 5 leds that represent 20% charge a piece. It also shows battery health if you hold down the button. I have 1 led's worth of incremental degradation : /

Go: Dell Battery FAQ: For what use is the strip of LED lights on my battery?

Friday, July 07, 2006

A possible answer to an eternal question

categorized under likely boring

I admit that I often let little things get in the way of big things. I have posted about this before, but recycling poses a big problem for me. It turns out that it's much crazier in Taiwan where you have to recycle all kinds of paper (think of the box that holds your big mac), buy special garbage bags, get fined for not recycling, and bring your trash at specific times to the garbage truck. Regardless of how much easier it is to dispose of trash in the US, I still wonder about whether the little clear windows on envelopes are worth tearing out before recycling.

Behold the possible answer, glassine:

Thursday, July 06, 2006

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