Software Nerd

Friday, June 30, 2006

A Collaborative Net

Most folk with home Wi-Fi would not like the idea of a "roaming stranger" piggy-backing on their connection. Many ISPs would like to restrict a customer's ability to share access (say, with his neighbor).

Now, however, there's a Spanish ISP that's encouraging its customers to open their Wi-Fi access to others who use the same ISP (password access would be required). Customer's who are willing to do so will be given wireless a router at the (supposedly) discounted price of $5.

This is an interesting idea....but, imagine something more...

Suppose hardware prices keep dropping and technology keeps improving. Imagine a time when you could use some part of the radio spectrum to communicate securely with a friend's computer about half a mile away. Imagine you could communicate with another friend a half-mile in another direction. Imagine you set up your machine as a router for them, so they can communicate with each other (via your router). Imagine a wiki-type explosion of collaboration. Imagine such home-based wireless routers all over a suburban area. With enough power (and IPv6), you'd only need an ISP for long-distance communication (across sparsely populated areas).

Monday, June 26, 2006

Fun: Needlework, Knitting, Crochet

While I can't appreciate these particular hobby, I do understand the fun from hobbies like these... (pictured are, a heart made from candy, a needlework tea-cup and a cross-stitch sistine chapel)...




There's more:
Coral-reef out of crochet
A knitted Ferrari
A soccer ball

A Fender guitar


The pro and con of commission-based Salespeople

There was a time when Best Buy salespeople did not work on commissions, while Circuit City's folk did. I always found the City-City salespeople pretty knowledgable about the product, while the Best Buy ones would read back the text on the label -- as if I had not done that myself, before asking for their help.

I had a similar experience while shopping for new mobile phone services recently, I went to a Best Buy store and the salesgirl seemed to be "kinda" doing her job, but was not too well-informed and not too enthusiastic. So, I walked over to a Sprint store where a commissioned salesperson gave me a whole lot of detail, did not try to up-sell me products that I did not want, and added a few sweeteners to the deal. I ended up switching service to Sprint. Funnily enough, I also ended up enjoying the experience.

The down-side with commissioned sales-folk is that they can be pushy: they often get extra commissions for selling you something you do not want or need. Often, they're also compensated for making you pay more for the same service. I believe that most of this downside is caused by poor management who have a "pull a fast one" attitude.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Did Bill Gates shrug?

Bill Gates announced that he was going to phase himself out of MSFT. We'll never know for sure, but I suspect he would have stayed if he thought he could take the company places and enjoy the process. His lessened ability to do so, over the last decade or so, is not just a function of his competitors -- it was also, in part, the result of government intervention.

Sen. Orrin Hatch should be rejoicing today, since he played a large role in crippling MSFT. The worthy senator granted certain types of monopoly-power to MSFT competitors [i.e. a government-sanctioned power to engage in some business activity, which the government denies to others, without legitimate cause].

Hatch's anti-MSFT crusade was fought on behalf of a constituent Utah company that MSFT was thrashing in the marketplace. Today, the worthy senator is going to bat to help another Utah constituent -- the internet-based OverStock.com, whose whining CEO, Patrick Byrne. This so-called businessman and the senator he funds are trying to get back at short-sellers of Byrnes lousy firm.

(Here's a little announcement: "Oct 11, 2005: Fundraiser for Senator Orrin Hatch, 5 to 7 pm, Overstock.com, 6350 South 3000 East, Salt Lake City. Hosted by Patrick Byrne. Please RSVP to Kristy Jensen at 801-836-2935 or... ")

Now you know why good people shrug.

Thank you Bill Gates, for the great stuff you made happen.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The War is Over

Oh joyous day, the Spanish-American war is over! The tax imposed to fund the war (108 years ago) has been repealed. It won't be added to your long-distance and cell-phone bills henceforth. If you do pay after repeal you can claim a refund on next year's tax-return-- a princely sum that will probably be under $20. I guess that's a "peace dividend". (HT: Slashdot)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I too am Black!

Most people in the US have seen forms asking for your race, with a note saying "this section is optional and is used for statistical purposes only". I was looking at one such form today and had a crazy idea...

What if I check "Black"?

The institution asking for this info was probably collecting it to prove that they were not discriminating against blacks, hispanics and native-americans. So, I could help them by saying that I was one of those. That way, everyone is happy (except the folks who had no business to meddle in the first place).

It has a flavor of the "I too am Spartacus" campaign. If everyone were to mark himself down as a minority, these optional sections of forms would be rendered useless.

A related thought: in some countries where discriminatory quotas are enforced by law, people have to produce some proof of their ethnicity. As far as I know, this is not the case in admissions for US colleges. While reading about the discrimination practiced by US colleges, I had a second crazy thought: could a regular white guy get into college claiming to be a Native American? My guess is that it ought not to be too hard.

(Ah, the devil in me must have come out a day late -- yesterday was 6/6/6)