Monday, January 29, 2007

Response to Cringley...

I often find Robert Cringley to have a lot of good ideas and such. He has, as of late, been getting into a few rants on Google. While I posted the below to the comments section of one of his articles (see here), I would also like to post it here. I think this is really likely. Enjoy...

A couple things....

1) Between AOL, Yahoo, and MSN - well, AOL needs to die. It's old, and decaying, and built on AOL-based (non-standard) protocols that AOL controls. I love AIM (which needs to somehow survive AOL dieing), but AOL needs to go. Also, MSN needs to die too. Sure, Microsoft will fight tooth and nail to keep it from it, but let's face it - it (like AOL) does not really offer anything but a lock in to a certain vender (Microsoft, as opposed to AOL), and we all know how evil Microsoft is. A nail in MSN's coffin is what is needed - well, not just one nail, but enough to seal the lid shut sow we can put it six feet under. Which leaves Yahoo - Yahoo actually offers something useful, though they may not offer it well enough to survive. Yahoo does not lock in users to any one vendor (Windows/Linux/Mac, AOL/MSN/home-town-ISP), but does provide a number of services (small business hosting, good e-mail, etc.) that do well. So, Yahoo needs to survive; but AOL and MSN need to see the mortician.

2. There are two problems with the rest of the article. (a) Interconnecting the ISPs as you suggest really only puts more Internet connections together - that is, after all, how the Internet is actually formed. ISP A agrees to allow traffic from ISP B to ISP C; ISP D - peered with ISP C - has someone trying to access ISP B, so ISP C lets it through to A which lets it through to B. It's really a simple formula. Putting more ISP-to-ISP lines in, while not riding on the central backbone providers (the really BIG ISP - L3, etc.) simply extends the Internet traffic that much more. It would primarily create a second Backbone network; sure it may not go directly to the primary backbone but it would still do the same thing with a slighly higher latency. It'll be quite hard to do otherwise.

(b) It is also just as likely that Google is looking to sell those datacenters as really big versions of their already selling search appliances for companies; thus competing more with main-frame systems than with ISPs or video, etc. Given Google (i) already has such appliances on a smaller scale, and (ii) focuses their primary business in search, I think this is a more likely scenerio.

Remember - Google is not really trying to compete with Microsoft; but if they happen to, so be it. In this case, Google would be leveraging Open Source technologies that they are already using in their own datacenters to sell a really large appliance to businesses to supplant main-frames that do heavy data crunching (analysis and searches). Think searching the FBI fingerprint databse, or facial recognition search type facilities.

They would be competing with Microsoft in terms of supplanting Microsoft Windows in the main-frame market. They would also be competing with Sun Microsystems (oh wait - isn't Eric Schmidt on their board?), IBM, SGI, HP/Compaq - and their AIX, Irix, Dynix, HP-UX, etc. products; which are already being eaten alive by Linux, which also happens to be Google's OS of choice. Ironic, isn't it? And doesn't this sound so much more like Google to start with?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I have been planning to primarily stay away from political stuff, trying to stick more to technology and related things; but I was thinking (as I was waiting on Slackware 11 to install) about the State of the Union Speech last night by President Bush and some of the reactions I had heard thereafter, such as the Democratic response.

The part of the speech I would really like to focus on is Iraq. Many - the media and the Democrats - are flailing about trying to get the US out of Iraq. However, pulling out of Iraq is just going to be a mistake - and (like it or not) the President was very, very right about how we need to deal with Iraq.

Iraq is a long term project - it was always a long term project. Back after WWII, the US spent a decade or so rebuilding Japan - and it took more than a decade to do so for a compliant nation without additional outside interferences. Comparatively, Iraq - with a majority of its citizens being compliant - differs in that it does have some non-compliant citizens and it has a lot (and I mean a lot) of outside interference. To really be successful in Iraq we need to have a 20, 30, 40, or even 50 year strategy, stick to it, and follow through.

The problem, however, is that since the WWII the media has learned just how much they can sway the public, and they are doing so against the better will of the nation, and against the better interests of the nation. That is not to say that mistakes have not been made, but to face the reality of the commitments we have made and to stick to them.

But then, perhaps that is the problem. As of late, people do not want to have commitments. They leave marriages after years, abort children in the womb, jump around from job to job, and the list goes on and on. May be that is the lesson that US really needs to learn - to start keeping commitments again.

Perhaps, if the Democrats and the Media have their way and the US exits Iraq, the fall out and the impact that it will have on the US (and there will be one) will teach our leaders that they must start keeping the commitments the country enters into, whether or not the citizenry always cares for them doing so.

And no - the Democrats do not have an edict from the people of the United States to pull out of Iraq. And they are just as guilty as the Republicans. But then, it does not really matter who is in power in Washington D.C - it will always run as it always has, and neither party can control that.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The New Tax to Support Corn Farmers: Ethanol

Ok, so I know a lot of me may flame me for not having some hard evidence in this, but I am sure there is a lot out there if you do the research. This just one issue that really, really, really bugs me...

Ethanol has been all the rage for quite a while now. In fact, some states are now requiring gasoline to have a minimum ethanol content. For example, a few months ago Virginia started requiring something like 10% ethanol in the gasoline mixtures. Unfortunately, this really ends up being more of a tax than anything else. Why?

Most ethanol in the US is made from corn, which is (to start with) highly government subsidized - it keeps the cost of corn low; but the problem is we make so much corn we don't know what to do with it. So, instead of bringing down the price (as that would hurt the farmers further), they decided to make it into fuel - ethanol - and there are a number of factories starting up to convert corn into fuel. This sounds good and all, until you consider how efficient corn-based ethanol is, at least when mixed with regular gasoline.

From my own, personal experience - ethanol is the worst thing I can put into my car. While adding it does bring the price of a gallon of gas down, say from $2.50 to $2.00 (or really liberally $1.50), it increases the consumption of gas by my car by nearly 2 - so for every gallong of gas that I was using, I am now using nearly two gallons. Thus, that gallon now costs me $4.00 (or $3.00 on the liberal), an increase of $1.50 (or $0.50 on the liberal). Not only that, but in increase the emissions of the vehicle similarly.

Now, figure this - the state is taking a cut on every gallon for (i) sales tax, (ii) taxes for use on the roads, and many other taxes for other things therein related. And then big oil takes it cut per gallon, as well as all the costs for production and distribution, and finally the station gets its miniscule $0.02 cents per gallon. So, all those cuts now get doubled by simply adding in a little ethanol. Everyone is richer except the consumer...*cough* customer *cough*. And they wonder why the American public is so concerned about the cost of a gallon.

Me - I want my hybrid that I can plug into an outlet and perhaps never use a gallon of gas with unless I chose to. But that's another time.