An excellent piece from Robert Cringely on stupid Microsoft tricks. Why, in a business deal with a small company, have 35 weeks of Microsoft email disappeared, and why has a trial judge ordered the company to make it reappear? Read the article to find out.
Nick dePlume over at Think Secret gets the scoop: Apple’s market share for portables in the US jumped by two full percentage points over the last quarter. I’d love to see a breakdown on that of how many are upgrading and how many are switchers – that’s the most important figure of all.
Imagine my surprise this morning when the second to lead story on the Today programme was that MSN has shut its chatrooms, citing their use by paedophiles and spammers. Of course, in the US, you’ll still be able to have access to MSN chat – as long as you have a credit card. And that important caveat underlines that this is fundamentally a financial rather than moral position, as correctly pointed out by Joe Wilcox at Jupiter Research. Microsoft has long been moving away from free online services, and MSN loses money. Policing chat is expensive, and hence unless people are paying for the service in the first place, not worth doing.
This is ultimately an issue of policing, rather than technology, although as usual the child safety “experts” are taking the more usual “ban this technology now” stance. Chris Atkinson, “internet safety expert” at the NSPCC, told BBC News: “This announcement is a very positive step forward and will help close a major supply line for sex abusers who go to great lengths to gain access to innocent children by grooming them on the internet.” Other “experts” from charities such as NCH are publically claiming that there has been a big increase in child sex abuse directly from contact through chat rooms. Notably, they cite no evidence to back this up. There’s the usual pull-quote statistics, of course – one in ten children who use chatrooms having met face to face, for example – but without the important caveats that go along with them: the research that produced the “one in ten” figure also found that the vast majority of face to face meetings were with other children, and the children reported having “a really good time”. The Internet Crime Forum, chaired by the Association of Chief Police Officers, pointed out in a paper from 2001 that “the danger of online solicitation by a stranger is thought to be relatively much lower than offline risk from someone known to the victim.” But that truth – that you are far more likely to be sexually abused by a parent, relative, or friend than strangers – is one that Britain as a whole still refuses to confront, and so we must again and again go through the same cycle of fear when it comes to the safety of children.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that we shouldn’t be concerned about the potential for paedophiles to use chatrooms to entice children into meetings. But, as research consistently points out, paedophile use of chat rooms follows a predictable pattern – and that means it’s remarkably easy to prevent or catch them as long as you know what rooms they are using. Ban chat rooms from companies like MSN and Yahoo, and what will happen is that kids will switch to other, less policable technologies like IRC, making it harder to actually catch paedophiles. In fact, the Internet Watch Foundation acknowledged this way back in 2000, when it claimed that “the danger comes when users progress from heavily regulated child chat rooms, to other forums.”
But the key is in that phrase, “heavily regulated”. MSN’s move is all about the fact that it doesn’t want to have to heavily regulate its forums, or act as a policeman online. That would cost money – and that’s a fact that a lot of chatroom providers aren’t willing to confront.
Tom has a genius post about David Blaine, entitled “On the weirdo in the perspex box…”. Should be required reading for anyone (a) American, (b) a celebrity, or (c) wannabes who’s life’s ambition is to be on Fame Academy.
If you’re pushing updates out to your users, you’d better make sure there aren’t any major bugs in them, or else you’re going to look silly – aren’t you, Apple?
An excellent Gore Vidal interview on politics post-September 11. The man’s intellect is immense. Why doesn’t he get elected president?
Here’s the scenario: Robert Scoble links to noted Microsoft hater Russell Beattie’s article on “M$ SmartPhones Catching Up.”. Russell rdirects any inbound links from Scoble’s site to one of the Microsoft/DOJ judgement documents (Scoble is a Microsoft employee these days). So far, so witty.
But then you read the comment that Beattie has posted to Scoble’s site, and you realise this guy has a really unhealthy perspective on the world. “Hey Fuckwit… I think Microsoft (and those who work for them) is scum… Go away, don’t come back, and don’t bother linking to me any more” for example.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m back using the Mac more – or at least I will be when the thing is up and running – after what turned into a full week of using Windows. There are several things that I’ll miss about moving back to the Mac as my main computer, things that will probably keep me drifting back to using Windows more often than I would have predicted.
First thing, Windows itself. It really isn’t bad. It’s official: Windows doesn’t suck, at least no more than any other operating system. Notably, the things that really do suck about Windows actually tend to be things where Microsoft hasn’t actually focussed, such as Bluetooth support (which is a royal pain in the behind). The one area where Windows is miles behind Mac OS X is synchronisation and Bluetooth. I really missed iSync a lot, so much so that I ended up keeping two completely seperate diaries and address books, simply to have the convenience of the Mac version.
But the thing that wins me over for Windows is the sheer variety and overall quality of the applications that I’ve come across. Whether it’s the outstanding FeedDemon, FranklinCovey’s time management things, or Quicken XG, there’s such a lot of variety for Windows that inevitably there’s a lot of quality stuff. There’s a lot of crap as well, but when a Windows application is good, it’s often very, very good.
Now if only I could get Bluetooth working properly…
Today is turning into one of those days. First of all, I find that my email is down. Next, the Mac’s hard drive dies – again – which means that I’m back on the PC (more of that later). Now, this is double annoying because sat inside the Mac is a perfectly new, perfectly usable 120Gb drive that has no system on it – and I have no system disks to hand, so it will have to wait until Claire comes home tonight to fix.
Absolutely annoying. Absolutely, and totally, annoying. And to make matters worse, the PC now has the 17in Mitsubishi monitor on it – which either runs 1024×768 at a nice 75Hz, or a higher, more usable resolution at a brain-aching 60Hz. Argh!