brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell


Fascinating glimpse into the past

Wow.  You find some interesting things on the web when you look.  Here's dozen years of internal email for Atari, providing a fascinating glimpse into one of the companies which helped fuel innovation in the Silicon Valley.   Some amazingly candid emails, fascinating to read, even though I only skimmed 'em.

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God to Robertson: You don’t speak for me…

I think Pat Robertson deserves a Dumbass Lifetime Achievement Award.

Robertson Links Sharon Stroke, God's Wrath

I can't imagine any God worth worshipping has Robertson as a spokesman.


In Digital Music, Its Gates Vs Jobs

Om Malik writes about what he sees as an inevitable collision of industry juggernauts, Microsoft vs. Apple, Gates vs. Jobs in a battle for downloadable music supremacy. But I'm confused by one of his comments:

The MTV’s Microsoft-powered Urge online music service will be selling to the ultimate demographic: the teen set.

I'm left wondering why he thinks teens are the ultimate demographic. You want guys like me in your demographic: guys from about 25 to maybe 45. Why? Because we are still young enough to be gadget conscious, but old enough to have disposable income. Trying to get money out of teens to young adults is essentially a zero sum game: they already spend all the money they have, so you have to make a product more compelling than any other product they are already spending money on. I suppose it is possible that URGE might be such an endeavor, but I doubt it, particularly when some kind of annoying DRM is going to be part of every Microsoft solution.


Live coverage of Bill Gates CES keynote

Engadget blogged with Live coverage of Bill Gates CES keynote, and I'm left with a couple of questions/remarks:

  1. Is this really what a keynote is supposed to be? It seemed like little more than a presentation of a particular company's product plans. That is normally not what I think a keynote is for: even at CES. (Okay, it looks like Intel did it too, but sheesh.)
  2. Gates pulled out lots of gadgets, none of which (as far I know) you could actually go out and buy today, tomorrow, or even within a month. He lead with "I though I'd start off and show a scenario that we think will be real in the next four years", with no indication how we are actually going to get there. That seems pathetic.
  3. Then, the demo of Vista. Oooh. Quicktabs. Transparency. Parental controls on games. Oooh. Big deal.
  4. Join venture with MTV. Wow. I'm asleep with excitement. Justin Timberlake makes an appearance. Wow. That's really innovative: using a celebrity to sell a product. How 'bout using a product to sell a product?
  5. You'll see more Tablet PCs, apparently from Gateway. Reviewing their product lines, you might actually be able to buy one of these, but Gates' message is diffused by generality. No clue as to why the average human might think a tablet was a good idea.
  6. Discussion of Windows Mobile and Palm. Fine, whatever. Phones are phones. It's a pretty low margine business, I'm not sure why its good that Microsoft is participating, but I have a Smartphone and a Windows Mobile PDA, so I guess I understand.
  7. We'll see more Media Center stuff, including portable devices. Doesn't seem like they have anything actually new to see though.
  8. "We're all going to have fun using these systems."

Someday. Really. You can't buy them today. You can't order them today. But they are coming, and you should be ready.

Next week, when Mac World is underway, compare and contrast this keynote with what Steve Jobs does.

Addendum: David Pogue writes in the New York Times a sentiment that I can empathize with:

But I think that what most people want from the next Windows isn't more stuff added, but rather stuff to be taken away--like crashes, lockups, viruses, error messages and security holes.

Amen, David, amen.



Last night, I upgraded my Linksys WRT-54GS router to DD-WRT, a more flexible set of firmware with greater capabilities.  It seems to work just fine, and includes many neat additions, such as the ability to adjust the router output power, new security measures, telnet and ssh access, improved QoS routing, and all sorts of other neat things.  If you've got one of these routers (check carefully for versions, some recent Linksys routers are incompatible) I'd recommend this distribution as easy to setup and configure.


All your bricks are belong to us!

Next Generation Lego MindstormsAs Tom Duff put it:

Finally, after years of sitting on their robotic asses, Lego is showing Lego Mindstorms NXT this week at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Check out the announcement. Pretty neat! I could arrange for this guy and my Robosapien to battle to the death!


Christmas 1980

Christmas 1980, Kevin and I with my new Atari 400While i was home visiting my mom, we spent some time going through my mom's collection of old photographs. We ran across this old Polaroid of myself (left) and my brother Kevin in Christmas of 1980. I was sixteen years old, and had saved for the better part of a year to get about three hundred dollars to buy this computer, and my mom kicked in the last of the money as a Christmas present. This little gem had 16K of memory, and I couldn't afford any storage device (not even tape at the time), but I think I see the box for the Atari Basic cartridge in the foreground, so I must have sprung for that. I also see in the little shelf above my desk what appear to be prescription bottles, but are in fact small bottles of paints (I used to paint miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons). I also remember the Moosehead beer shirt that I am wearing: Kevin gave that to me, and I wore it alot, most of the way through my undergraduate years at college.

Just thought I'd share this blast from the past. Oh, and here's a bigger scan showing more details.

Filed under: My Diary 2 Comments