Participants in Amazon’s affiliate program — the thing where you publish links to products for sale at Amazon and receive a percentage of each sale from anyone who places an order through those links — get access to detailed daily statistics. For obvious privacy and security reasons, this information contains no personal information about the customers whatsoever. So, I see what people buy through the Amazon links here on DF, but nothing at all about who bought those things.
The links for pre-ordering Leopard are doing well; as of last night, 579 orders have been placed by DF readers. One thing I find interesting is the breakdown between single-license copies and five-license “family packs”: 408 and 171, respectively.
What’s interesting about this is that the single-computer license isn’t enforced in code by the operating system. (Or at least that’s been the case with Mac OS X 10.0 through 10.4.) And, I suspect, most DF readers are aware of this. Which means many readers are doing the right thing simply because they’re honest.
Gee, guess what – if you don’t treat your customers as if they were thieves, it turns out that they are actually not thieves.
The people who buy enterprise software aren’t the people who use enterprise software. That’s where the disconnect begins. And it pulls and pulls and pulls until the user experience is split from the buying experience so severely that the software vendors are building for the buyers, not the users. The experience takes a back seat to the feature list, future promises, and buzz words.
This is one of the reasons we think enterprise is a dirty word. It’s also why it’s an absolute pleasure to design products for what we call the Fortune 5,000,000.
The Fortune 5,000,000 are the the small businesses, the side-businessess, the freelancers. The people who buy our products are the people who use our products. If they don’t get value on the financial side and the productivity side they don’t stick around.
We have to make the money happy and the people happy. In our market they’re the same person. In the enterprise market they are often different people in different departments in different buildings who sit at different tables during lunch.
In the world of small business software the product — not the salesperson — does the talking. There’s no camouflaging value when the buyer is the user.
(and some excellent comments in this article as well)
Copyfightin’ law prof Michael Geist tackles the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a new global treaty proposal that has expanded to cover all the bad stuff that we’re more used to seeing from the World Intellectual Property Organization (which bears the same relationship to bad copyright law that Mordor has to evil in Middle Earth), like prohibitions of breaking DRM and the use of public money spent to police the private interests of a few giant corporations.
Unlike WIPO, ACTA is undertaken without input from those pesky consumer rights groups and developing nations, and without the need to come to consensus.
Despite the absence of any independent data (indeed, there is evidence that some numbers have been fabricated), politicians are easily convinced that action is needed since the lobbyists often come armed with compelling props (exploded batteries, unsafe toys) and no one actually supports counterfeiting. Of course, the issue is not whether you are for or against counterfeiting, but rather whether the proposed reforms have anything to do with health and safety or significant economic concerns.
The information security market is riddled with mediocre products because buyers are often sold on a story rather than having enough information to make a rational choice, a security expert has said.
Bruce Schneier, founder and chief technical officer of BT Counterpane, said many security products offered the feeling of being secure rather than actual security. Vendors can’t be trusted to give a reliable precis of a product’s capabilities, he warned.
The field of information technology security is so complex that purchasing decisions are based on feelings and hunches rather than reality, a process that suppliers play into, in what Schneier described as “security theatre”. Products sold through this process often either fail to live up to their promises or address a threat that is overstated.
“For every supplier with a good product or service, there is at least one more out to make a quick buck before customers find out,” Schneier told delegates to the RSA security conference during a keynote presentation on Tuesday. “There’s a problem when feelings and reality are out of whack.”
Just like in the real world – just compare BBC World with Fox News…
This Halloween consider the giraffe costume.
A high profile Vatican cleric suspended after he was shown on television making advances to a young man allegedly had a list of homosexual priests and bishops in the Roman Catholic Church’s governing body, Italy’s Panorama weekly reported Friday.
Father Tommaso Stenico, 60, had “a detailed dossier” of all the homosexual clerics at Vatican “with a list of names and circumstances implicating a certain number of priests and even bishops working at the Curia,” Ignazio Ingrao, reporter for the conservative news weekly said.
Stenico also sent his superior Cardinal Claudio Hummes a report denouncing the moral degradation within the Curia, which could make the Vatican “tremble,” Ingrao said.
The Bush administration is known for its two wars. There is one on a feeling – terror; and one upon a country – Iraq. In 2003, the war on terror was used to justify the war in Iraq. How ironic, then, that today the war in Iraq helps demonstrate the absurdity of the war on terror. The evidence is found in an October 23rd New York Times article entitled, “In Iraq, Conflict Simmers on a 2nd Kurdish Front.” The piece discusses Kurdish insurgents from the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK, who are proudly waging a guerrilla war against Iran. The PJAK is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, who instead of on Iran, proudly wage a guerrilla war against Turkey.
Now, the absurdity of the situation lies in the fact that while the US classifies the PKK a terrorist organization, it doesn’t classify the PJAK as terrorists, because of the fact that it wages war on Iran. In fact, as the article notes, PJAK commanders boast of having significant contacts and consultation with American military officials. Astonishingly, the leader of the PJAK, which it should be emphasized again, is an off-shoot of a terrorist group, was actually allowed to visit Washington last summer.
The “war on terror” has been a complete political failure. It has not increased the American fan-base. It has not convinced anti-American populations to show sympathy to the US. It has, if anything, shown the complete lack of common sense in the administration. For example, recently the US labeled members of the official Iranian military a terrorist organization. The act of referring to members of a government as terrorists implies that the US believes in such a thing as State Terrorism, leading one to ask: if being a terrorist is merely a matter of someone applying a label, how is the US to resist being referred to as a state terrorists itself?
If you have not seen the movie Idiocracy, you should. The dumbing down of the masses is a problem in this country and it’s the only real way to keep Americans etherized. We all know who benefits from that — monarchs and dictators. But why isn’t the press helping to wake us up? Here’s a story that might help you understand.
Nearly one year after recapturing control of Congress, House Democratic leaders will embark on a publicity blitz starting in November to combat a dismal 25 percent approval rating.
A PR campaign is easier than growing a spine, I guess.
California’s experiment in wholesale incarceration is one of the great policy failures of our times. Thirty years ago, California had 12 prisons and fewer than 30,000 prisoners. Today, after a generation of “tough-on-crime” legislation pushed through the legislature and the initiative process — from three-strikes-and-you’re-out to draconian anti-drug and anti-gang legislation — the state has close to 175,000 inmates living in 34 prisons. That means almost one in every 200 California residents is now a prisoner of the state. (And these numbers don’t even include the tens of thousands more prisoners in county jails.) The annual cost to taxpayers is about $10 billion per year, just shy of the amount the state annually puts into its vaunted public university system. If current spending trends continue, California will soon be spending more on prisons than on universities.
The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative ideologist whom Bush has consulted on this topic, has written that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is “like Hitler … a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism.” For this staggering proposition Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence.
Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland’s and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?
When the relatively moderate Mohammed Khatami was elected president in Iran, American conservatives pointed out that he was just a figurehead. Real power, they said (correctly), especially control of the military and police, was wielded by the unelected “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now that Ahmadinejad is president, they claim his finger is on the button. (Oh wait, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear button yet and won’t for at least three to eight years, according to the CIA, by which point Ahmadinejad may not be president anymore. But these are just facts.)
In a speech last week, Rudy Giuliani said that while the Soviet Union and China could be deterred during the cold war, Iran can’t be. The Soviet and Chinese regimes had a “residual rationality,” he explained. Hmm. Stalin and Mao—who casually ordered the deaths of millions of their own people, fomented insurgencies and revolutions, and starved whole regions that opposed them—were rational folk. But not Ahmadinejad, who has done what that compares? One of the bizarre twists of the current Iran hysteria is that conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history’s greatest mass murderers.
The one time we seriously negotiated with Tehran was in the closing days of the war in Afghanistan, in order to create a new political order in the country. Bush’s representative to the Bonn conference, James Dobbins, says that “the Iranians were very professional, straightforward, reliable and helpful. They were also critical to our success. They persuaded the Northern Alliance to make the final concessions that we asked for.” Dobbins says the Iranians made overtures to have better relations with the United States through him and others in 2001 and later, but got no reply. Even after the Axis of Evil speech, he recalls, they offered to cooperate in Afghanistan. Dobbins took the proposal to a principals meeting in Washington only to have it met with dead silence. The then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he says, “looked down and rustled his papers.” No reply was ever sent back to the Iranians. Why bother? They’re mad.
In Shirley MacLaine’s new book, the actress and longtime friend of Dennis Kucinich makes an interesting claim: During a visit to her home in Washington state, Kucinich said he saw a UFO and heard messages from it.
“Dennis found his encounter extremely moving,” MacLaine writes. “The smell of roses drew him out to my balcony where, when he looked up, he saw a gigantic triangular craft, silent, and observing him.
“It hovered, soundless, for 10 minutes or so, and sped away with a speed he couldn’t comprehend. He said he felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind.”
Just imagine if the USA had a president who believed he was receiving orders beamed directly from some powerful being in the sky. Ludicrous.
The State Department does not know specifically what it received for a billion-dollar contract with security firm DynCorp International to provide training services for Iraqi police, a U.S. watchdog agency said on Tuesday.
The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said it was forced to suspend its audit of the DynCorp contract after administration officials told investigators they had no confidence in their own accounting records.
The inspector general said the agency had not validated the accuracy of invoices received before October 2006 and described bills and supporting documents as being in disarray.
After weeks of gruelling troubleshooting, I’ve finally had it confirmed by Microsoft Australia and USA — something as small as swapping the video card or updating a device driver can trigger a total Vista deactivation.
Put simply, your copy of Windows will stop working with very little notice (three days) and your PC will go into “reduced functionality” mode, where you can’t do anything but use the web browser for half an hour.
You’ll then need to reapply to Microsoft to get a new activation code.
And people pay money for this crap?
Timothy Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, acknowledged that as many as 250,000 iPhones had been purchased but then not activated for service with AT&T, Apple’s exclusive wireless partner in the United States.
An interesting observation I saw: AT&T should take notice of the fact that a significant number of potential customers dislike there service so much they are willing to risk bricking a $400 device to avoid it. Perhaps they should improve their product a bit…
Suspected lead- paint-tainted Barbie dolls face firing squads in China.
BEIJING—In an attempt to assure the world’s children that the millions of Chinese-made toys currently being recalled for containing toxic lead paint and tiny choking hazards can no longer hurt them, high-level Chinese officials announced Tuesday that millions of playthings are being rounded up and immediately put to death.
“We are assisting the authorities in destroying toys,” said Chen Hai, a senior manager at Joy Sing Industrial Plastics Co., a supplier contracted by several major American toy companies. “This is not all talk. We invite any concerned American parents to come here and tour our toy torture chambers to see the toys’ agony for themselves.”
Chen added that, as a precaution, the factory also executed 5,000 workers.
A toy-abuse-monitoring group, the Association for the Advancement of Plastic People (AAPP), said it has gathered evidence suggesting that the Chinese government has also detained an additional 20 million toys for questioning. According to the group, even toys that contained only trace levels of lead paint were loaded onto trains bound for detention centers in remote provinces of Western China, where they were allegedly deprived of sleep, burned with cigarettes, and subjected to traditional Chinese water torture.
Has the Clean Air Act done more to fight crime than any other policy in American history? That is the claim of a new environmental theory of criminal behavior.
In the early 1990s, a surge in the number of teenagers threatened a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. But to the surprise of some experts, crime fell steadily instead. Many explanations have been offered in hindsight, including economic growth, the expansion of police forces, the rise of prison populations and the end of the crack epidemic. But no one knows exactly why crime declined so steeply.
The answer, according to Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, an economist at Amherst College, lies in the cleanup of a toxic chemical that affected nearly everyone in the United States for most of the last century. After moving out of an old townhouse in Boston when her first child was born in 2000, Reyes started looking into the effects of lead poisoning. She learned that even low levels of lead can cause brain damage that makes children less intelligent and, in some cases, more impulsive and aggressive. She also discovered that the main source of lead in the air and water had not been paint but rather leaded gasoline — until it was phased out in the 1970s and ’80s by the Clean Air Act, which took blood levels of lead for all Americans down to a fraction of what they had been. “Putting the two together,” she says, “it seemed that this big change in people’s exposure to lead might have led to some big changes in behavior.”
Reyes found that the rise and fall of lead-exposure rates seemed to match the arc of violent crime, but with a 20-year lag — just long enough for children exposed to the highest levels of lead in 1973 to reach their most violence-prone years in the early ’90s, when crime rates hit their peak.
Such a correlation does not prove that lead had any effect on crime levels. But in an article published this month in the B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy, Reyes uses small variations in the lead content of gasoline from state to state to strengthen her argument. If other possible sources of crime like beer consumption and unemployment had remained constant, she estimates, the switch to unleaded gas alone would have caused the rate of violent crime to fall by more than half over the 1990s.
About 30 million low-income American households who will need help paying heating bills this winter from a U.S. government program will be left in the cold because of a lack of funding for the program.
The poor, already digging deep to pay for expensive gasoline, also will face much higher heating fuel costs, especially if oil prices stay near record levels.
Consumer groups and state energy officials have sounded the alarm, saying a federal program to help poor families pay heating bills will have nowhere near the money needed to cover those expected to seek assistance.
The government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP, only has enough funding to cover 16 percent of the 38 million poor households eligible for the program.
The current $2.16 billion LIHEAP budget in only $300 million more than what the program had when it was created by Congress in 1981. Despite higher energy costs, the Bush administration has proposed cutting the program’s budget.