I was too busy to think of anything good to post here, but didn't want to break multi-year tradition of posting each of the twelve days, so I posted this. What sorts of silly traditions lead you to do similarly odd things?
I hope everyone had a joyous holiday. Mine was a peaceful, wonderful time with family. And now I am looking forward to the second day of Christmas, which, if the weather front scoots over just a tad will make the Second Day of Christmas a White Christmas. It might be a bit late, but it would still be delightful!
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you have the most joyful of holidays as we celebrate the arrival of our Lord in the flesh so many years ago.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2.13-14 ESV)
Those who have heard my recommendations for Internet service often look at me incredulously. People so universally aim hatred at cable companies, they cannot believe I would insist Charter's service is superior to that of AT&T U-Verse. While I've worked with enough installations of the two services to say that Charter's Internet service is almost universally faster and frequently cheaper, many people hate the cable company so much, they insist otherwise. That's why a new ranking chart from Netflix is so interesting.
Netflix does a lot more to stress network connections than almost anybody else as they send “over 1 billion hours” of programming to members per month. The incredible amount of data they send out also gives them a great deal of data about how well different ISPs work around the country. In those rankings, only the two major consumer fiber services (Verizon FiOS and Google Fiber) beat out Comcast and Charter in the performance race, while AT&T U-Verse ranks at a dismal 11th place and AT&T's regular DSL is even lower at the 15th spot.
This isn't surprising from a technological standpoint. Unlike fellow Bell alum Verizon, AT&T opted to save money on its next generation offering by not running fiber to individual homes, instead using traditional copper phone wiring. The same copper wiring that has been around since Alexander Graham Bell. Traditional telephone wiring is definitely showing its age and while AT&T finds itself trying to squeeze every last ounce of capacity out of those aging lines, fiber and cable providers actually have a glut of capacity that should be able to maintain speed increases for years to come.
An example might suffice: Charter's “PowerBoost” allows customers to periodically “burst” at faster speeds than what one is paying for — it isn't unusual for me to see a Charter connection hit 10Mbps faster than its advertised rate, for example. AT&T on the other hand almost never actually achieves its advertised speeds and, even if it did, its fastest package (24Mbps) is 20% slower than Charter's more affordable, standard 30Mbps package.
Food for thought next time you shop for a new Internet package.
The Bloomberg Businessweek interview with Tim Cook is being widely quoted because of the media's interest in what Apple's CEO has to say, but I haven't seen anyone quote the sage concluding comment from Cook. Asked if he thinks of Steve Jobs often, he replied:
I do, every day. He was a friend, and it's””I guess the external view of that is that he's a boss, but when you work with someone for that long, for me anyway, the relationship is really important. You know? I don't want to work with people I don't like. Life is too short. So you do become friends. Life has too few friends.
So, Microsoft introduces a “full PC” and “tablet” combo that, in many ways, seems to be what the first Surface should have been and officially suggests it will get only about 60% of the battery life of a MacBook Air that has a larger display, includes a real keyboard and offers comparable processors, RAM and ports. Interesting.
So, apparently Windows 8 has advertisements within some of its core apps, a rather unprecedented move and one I am surprised there hasn't already been a commotion about. Even if you don't care about ads per se, there is a bigger implication than having screen space within parts of Windows 8 dedicated to generating revenue for Microsoft:
We can't talk about the inclusion of ads and not mention the “T” word: tracking. I haven't been able to find any information on whether or not Microsoft's tracking the ads you are clicking on, but if that is indeed the case, we'll find out soon enough. Unlike Windows 7 and earlier, your entire Windows 8 account can be tied to an e-mail account, so it would be rather easy for Microsoft to track things on a personal level - much like how Google does with its search engine, e-mail and so forth. This alone gives good reason to be concerned.
Can you imagine the outcry if the iPhone came out of the box with ads in its Weather or Stocks apps?
Just for the record, I get a lot of predictions wrong, but here's one I got right (at least long term) back before the iPad launched:
But, let's offer a wildcard alternative: fully wireless sync with your current Mac ecosystem. Perhaps this would be extended to some iPhones and iPod touches too ”” say just the 3GS. I expect Apple to play up sync in general in the future. As iTunes goes, so goes Apple's overall strategy. The introduction of “Home Sync” quietly last year is something I believe will be the harbinger of bigger plans, with Apple returning to sync in a big way this year after pretty much letting its previous strides rust and be forgotten (think of the big push on sync services in Mac OS X Tiger back in 2005 and those features integration with the service then known as .Mac and now christened MobileMe).
Clearly, iCloud is for Apple this decade what iTunes was for Apple last decade.
John Gruber linked to a story from Martin Kekkelund in which he tells of a friend whose Kindle was wiped and her Amazon account terminated for some alleged affiliation with another account. But, she didn't know what other account Amazon was referring to or what violation the company could have in mind — and Amazon refuses to tell her. Outrageously, she has lost her Kindle library of books and has basically no recourse:
Linn lives in Norway, far away from Amazon's jurisdiction. How will she ever find the means to get her books back? By suing a large corporation half-way round the earth?
Linn is outlawed by Amazon.
I might wonder if this is a legitimate story, save for that I have a similar one with Google. For years I ran several web sites, including Open for Business, which depended on Google AdSense for ad revenue. Google offers good rates for advertising and I liked using text based ads over the flashing garbage many ad networks put out.
It worked fine until Google decided I had violated some term of their agreement concerning the displaying of ads. But, they wouldn't tell me what I had allegedly done nor would they allow me to prove my innocence (I reviewed the terms and had violated none of them). Much as in Kekkelund's friend's case, I only received maddening replies from the company. They even refused to pay the last bit of ad revenue they owed me.
Also, as in the story I linked to, the impact was profound. It is very hard for a little web publisher to find a good quality, reputable advertising network that can generate even enough revenue to pay for site maintenance these days. Google has dominated the field for some time now with what is effectively a monopoly in actually profitable advertising, so that when Google permanently bans you from their system without any sort of corporate equivalent of “due process,” the result is crushing.
Why would Google ban my small business from its systems? Why would Kekkelund's friend receive such an unhelpful response from Amazon? In each case — and I would wager, many more — there is no good answer and that is frightening.
For many people and businesses, much of one's livelihood is tied up in just one or two cloud providers. I think the question we need to ask is this: “if any one provider shut down my account, would I be shut down?” If the answer is yes, you are too dependent on that provider.
My conversation with Google is below the fold.
Conor Friedersdorf reports:
Asked who won the town hall between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, Los Angelenos were emphatic. The problem: The event hadn't yet happened.
Frightening and yet seemingly completely in agreement with my own experience discussing candidates with people.