Saturday, August 04, 2007

Celebrity Report: Elton John's a Luddite

Celebrity Report: I like Elton John's music, but this CNET stories shows him to be just a bit bonkers when it comes to technology. Then again, he was around in the '60's.

Intel Owes AMD $60 Billion?

Here's a fascinating looking into the seamier side of antitrust law (if antitrust could possibly have a seamier side). Basically, this CNET article alleges (or just states, one can't quite tell) that AMD has hired a consultant to show how much money Intel has essentially "stolen" from AMD through anti-competitive practices.

This is, of course, essentially the same as the Microsoft case, without the dubious economics. You have a competitor in AMD (among others) who simply haven't made the best product and marketing decisions, while Intel has done pretty well. In fact, there was a recent period of time when Intel was doing everything wrong, and AMD simply failed to capitalize on it.

Antitrust law is just a way for disgruntled competitors to stop successful companies. I refer you to this article at the Ayn Rand Institute for more.

2008 BMW 535i Is a Beauty

I have a bad tendency to lust after things I can't have. The 2008 BMW 535i is a good example.

CNET reviews it, and it sounds like heaven on wheels.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 4345 Diggs, is a rather plaintive request for Digg to do something about a group that games Digg to, I guess, drive traffic to their site. I suppose that's a real issue, and also seems an inherent issue of Digg itself (because, of course, special interest groups can do this as well, for, say, political purposes).

Mob rule. Gotta love it.

Boing Boing Misinterprets Freedom of Speech

In this Boing Boing post, they go postal on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC's) decision to require employees to get permission to blog if they identify themselves on their blogs as CBC employees. To Boing Boing, this is the epitome of infringement on free speech.

To anyone who understands free speech, however, this is basically saying, "If you want to remain an employee of CBC, then you'll either blog without mentioning that you're a CBC employee (thus avoiding any chance that your opinions will be taken as ours), or you'll get permission first."

Every CBC employee has a right to blog. They just don't have a right to a job at the CBC. The CBC can't stop someone from blogging, the most they can do is stop someone from working at the CBC. Only government could actually, physically stop someone from blogging, and that's what freedom of speech is all about.

Boing Boing Advocates News be Created by Special Interest Groups

From what I can tell, this Boing Boing post proposes that "citizen journalism" will be better than "real" journalism. But, what they describe sounds to me a bit like the creation of a sort of partisan journalism, turning all of the "news" into opinion pieces.

Imagine if the only news we received was essentially editorials created by special interest groups. It's really quite chilling.

Secure You're Wireless Network (Will be Obvious to Some)

Just a quick public service announcement: if you're wireless network isn't secure or you spend time on unsecured public networks, and if you're not using encrypted connections to your email provider, you're juts asking for trouble.

It's trivial for someone to get all the information they need to make your life a living hell. I once had someone hack into my PayPal account (because I was an idiot and used a weak password for both my Yahoo! email account and for PayPal), change the information on my bank and credit card accounts, and in general hijack my identity. I acted quickly enough--or should I say, PayPal acted quickly enough by calling me about a suspicious transaction--that nothing really bad happened, but I spent the next few weeks closing and opening all sorts of accounts.

So, get that security thing going, eh? My apologies if I sound preachy.

Congress Introduces Bill to Allow Governments to Compete in the Broadband Market

This would be bad news: via Ars Technica, it appears that Congress has introduced a bill that would overrule state laws that prohibit munipal broadband. Essentially, it would allow cities and towns to build their own broadband networks in competition with private providers.

Now, government has no special intelligence when it comes to providing such services. In fact, it really knows very little about it, as evidenced by the millions of dollars wasted every year by incompetent government IT departments.

It also has no money to spend on such ventures, other than the taxpayer money that it expropriates from its citizens. This means that government would necessarily be taking money from some group of citizens who either already have their own broadband connections or could care less about it, to provide broadband services to those who, for whatever reason, don't have it. And, of course, there's also the issue of those who current pay for broadband services with private companies to cancel and take advantage of the government-subsidized service.

Finally, government is by definition that entity that possesses a monopoly on the legal use of force; in one sense, government is force, because all of its legitimate functions (police, courts, military, etc.) are aimed at retaliating against those who initiate the use of force. Introducing force into the market does not create "competition," it creates coercion, no matter how the bill might be written. Government corruption stems from its ability to influence lives and business; we don't need more opportunities for it.

In other words, there's no good reason for municipalities to setup broadband services, and plenty of bad reasons. And I haven't even touched upon the economic impact that forcing broadband connectivity with current technologies will have on the development of new technology.

I hope to hell that this bill doesn't pass. Incidentally, it's the Community Broadband Act of 2007, if you feel inclined to contact your Congressperson.

Ahmadinejad States the Obvious

Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) spells out American foreign policy in this story in The International News (sorry, link is to a print-ready page). It's remarkable how precisely he defines it, given how obvious it is. I say, the fact that he brings it up at all means it bugs him, but I doubt that it bugs him all that much, since he's insane.

I link to the story, but really, it's not worth the time.