03 July 2003

Presidential candidate John Edwards asks why income from investments should pay lower taxes than income from salaries. When you cut taxes on dividends, capital gains, and inheritances, you raise property taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes. The result is to reduce the tax burden on people in upper income brackets at the expense of people in lower income brackets.

(Link by way of Lawrence Lessig's blog.)

Posted 12:18 PM

Some companies reorganize so often that employees joke about the size of the budget for new business cards. Such companies often forget that the costs of frequent change can exceed the rewards. Reorganization for its own sake is unlikely to address the real issues facing a company.

Posted 10:04 AM

02 July 2003

Clay Shirky has posted an interesting talk on social software and online communities. Among other things, he points out that an online community needs rules and a hierarchy, in the sense of a group of users who are "trusted" enough to defend the community against vandals, and have the tools to do so. He also argues that social software can only facilitate interactions, it can't control them, and it loses much of its power if it tries to.

Posted 11:33 AM

It all started when Silicon Strategies reported the results of this year's VLSI Research customer satisfaction survey. Among other things, the story described Nikon as "the loser in the large vendor category," after the lithography giant fell out of the industry's top ten. Not surprisingly, Nikon objected to the characterization, claiming that it was unfairly singled out when other companies had larger drops in the rankings.

Now, VLSI Research has clarified the original story, noting that their survey has much more complete results than were detailed in their press conference, or in the Silicon Strategies article.

After all of this, I suspect no one is happy. Silicon Strategies is unhappy because they wrote a quicky article based on a press conference and accompanying release, missed important nuances of the story, and got nailed on it. VLSI Research is unhappy because their results were misinterpreted. (And also because they gave me an excuse to complain that they still have the worst web page in the industry.) And Nikon is unhappy because they inadvertently called attention to the fact that they ranked below both ASML and Canon.

Posted 10:56 AM

01 July 2003

Publishing scientific research used to be expensive. Technical material is a lot harder to typeset than plain text, and then you've got to transport all those dead trees to subscribers, without the large advertising base and economies of scale that make consumer-oriented newspapers and magazines viable. To support these costs, most of the important technical journals demand that contributors cede copyright to them, and then charge exorbitant fees for both print and online subscriptions. As a result, most research, though funded by tax dollars, is inaccessible to those members of the general public who don't live near research libraries.

With the Internet, it doesn't have to be that way. Readily available software tools simplify the layout task, and the marginal cost of distribution is vanishingly small. Biologist Michael Eisen argues that traditional journals now do more to inhibit scientific progress than to help it. His Public Library of Science is lobbying to place all government-funded research in the public domain (Salon link, asks non-subscribers to watch an ad.).

Posted 11:11 AM

Wrapping up June, I had 2550 words since my last update. That's 22,130 since May 31, and 140,480 since the beginning of the year. I'm unfortunately about 10,000 words short of halfway to my goal of 300,000 for the year. I'll need to average 26,587 per month to get there.

For July, my goal is once again 1000 words per day, targeting 171,480 by August 1. I'll lose most of a week to Semicon West, but I've been averaging better than a thousand per day for the last week or so. So we'll see.

Posted 09:18 AM

30 June 2003 is my latest interesting web toy. The site offers Internet radio with a brain. You tell it which tracks you like, and it tries to give you more like them. In part, it does that by looking at the preferences of other users. If you like Miles Davis, the system will offer you tunes that other Miles Davis fans liked. My selections were pretty random at first, but they improved very quickly.

Broadband connection required. This is Internet radio, not file sharing, meaning that you get access to a music stream, not individual tracks.

Posted 03:18 PM

The Register makes a point about Linux that I was just thinking about myself. Until small businesses and home users clearly understand the advantages, Linux will remain a niche operating system, of interest primarily to software experts. As a business owner, I'm much less interested in software industry politics than in getting useful work done. If it's easier to get work done with Microsoft than with an alternative, and so far it is, then that's what I'll buy.

Posted 03:12 PM

29 June 2003

I guess it's been a while since I posted a word count update. It's been going surprisingly well. After treading water for most of June, I have 6750 words since my last update. That's 137,930 since January 1.

Posted 10:58 AM


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