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January 26, 2002

I spent the afternoon at Vericon, Harvard's own SF convention. I dipped my toes in comic art, a fascinating area that I know essentially nothing about; learned a little bit about ritual, religion, and SF; learned a lot about what makes some novels take off while others fall flat; and even managed to meet an online acquaintance in person. (Hi Bryn!) I don't know how hardcore gamers or anime or comics fans liked it, but for me it was a good balance of different stuff. Gave me a lot to think about, which I'm mostly still processing. I'll definitely be watching for next year's edition.
posted 23:22 |

January 25, 2002

Blogger Pro is out, and I just upgraded to it. Promised features include priority server access, better security, and (upcoming) an end to the archive problem. We'll see. But if all the money does is help Blogger keep the lights on, it's money well spent.
posted 22:32 |

January 23, 2002

Also discovered that Blogger dumped the archives. Again. This is getting to be really annoying.
posted 12:23 |
Everything I need to know, I learned playing Pong. Cute Shockwave animation. Shockwave plugin required, and check the volume on your speakers.

(Link by way of Metafilter.)
posted 12:22 |

S. L. Viehl, author of the Stardoc series of novels, added this page to her Star Lines blog. Many thanks, and welcome to readers visiting from her page.

She also made some interesting comments about why blogging is worthwhile:

"But then . . . there's that last 10%. These are folks who write about what matters to them, what they really worry about, the little victories and defeats of each day. They're from all walks of life, working all kinds of jobs, well-off, poor, struggling, settled, alone, happy, in love, searching, etc. What they do is spill a little of their lives into a brief or lengthy weblog entry and send it out into the world. It's like a thousand copies of one letter thrown out into the ocean in as many bottles. Free to whoever picks it up and wants to read it. And that ten percent is why I cruise weblogs every day. To make that connection, to read the words, to hear what they have to say."
posted 11:23 |

One of the many lessons emerging from the Enron scandal has to do with accountability, brought into sharp focus by both massive document shredding at Arthur Andersen, and by recent reports that Enron employees were shredding documents well into January. The people who actually did the shredding claim, probably correctly, that they were only doing what they were told. The top executives at both companies have pronounced themselves "simply shocked" by any attempt to impede the ongoing investigation. A few hapless middle managers somewhere in between will end up taking the blame because they were stupid enough to put their instructions in writing.

The phrase "plausible deniability" emerged in the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal. The participants claimed that they did not tell the President what they were doing, but that they knew he would approve. Those hapless middle managers were probably operating on the same principle. The documents were damaging to the Corporation (or its executives), so of course the Corporation wanted them destroyed. If their misguided loyalty lands them in jail, I hope the Corporation takes good care of their families.

The good news is that in the computer age, most documents are electronically generated. There's a good chance the shredded materials are still sitting on hard drives and backup tapes somewhere, and the investigators have now been given a reason to look for them. When they emerge, maybe we'll find out who's really accountable in this mess. I'm guessing it isn't the middle managers.
posted 10:50 |

January 22, 2002

In the midst of the hype, I expressed doubt that Amazon would ever reach profitability. Their business model at that time asked investors to shoulder substantial losses (US$3 billion so far) in order to build market share fast. I was wrong. The company's fourth quarter results showed a small, but real, 1 cent per share profit.

Congratulations, Amazon and Jeff Bezos. Want to try for two quarters in a row?
posted 13:47 |

Mike Sanders has added me to the blogrolling list at his Keep Trying blog. Thanks for the link, Mike, and welcome to any readers who got here that way.
posted 08:34 |

January 21, 2002

Micron Technology's latest 10-Q filing includes the previously undisclosed terms of the company's agreement to acquire Toshiba's DRAM business, including the Dominion Semiconductor fab in Virginia. Micron will pay nearly US$300 million in cash and stock, roughly a quarter of the fab's replacement cost.
posted 11:29 |
In a clear sign that the microprocessor industry is maturing, the new president of Intel, Paul Otellini, has an MBA, not a technical degree. He's the first non-technical person to reach Intel's top ranks.

Otellini's appointment merely confirms what industry watchers have known for a while: Intel's success comes from marketing and manufacturing excellence, not from bleeding edge technology. Other companies have superior architectures, more advanced fabs, and faster chips, but none has been able to challenge Intel's dominance of the desktop, or of the public imagination.
posted 11:13 |

Finished 7.5 pages last night, and got past a major sticking point. I've figured out who my antagonist is, and he's much more interesting than I originally thought.
posted 09:02 |
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