" /> CTDATA: February 2002 Archives

« January 2002 | Main | March 2002 »

February 28, 2002

Weblogs Influence Results of 1 Billion Google Searches Per Week

Corante published an article by John Hiler called Google Loves Blogs. This article explains two important but little understood aspects of Google's PageRank technology that is the primary determinant of which web pages show up first on a Google search result page:

  • Google treats links that point to a web site an indication of the target site's relevance.
  • Google crawls sites that are updated daily much more often than other web sites.
  • Google values links on recently updated pages more than similar links on older web pages.

As a result of these policies, weblogs and news-oriented web sites have a greater influence on Google search results than many users realize. This makes sense because any search engine with access to such huge volumes of information must use some time factors in its page relevancy calculations.

The article also points out the emergence of sites like blogdex and Daypop, which provide a sort of "daily greatest hits" of the most popular weblogs. These sites are interesting to look at because they demonstrate the breadth of topics covered by weblogs and the degree to which some weblogs cover the same stories as others.

These meta weblogs also have slightly different audiences and weblogs that they cover. Blogdex, hosted by MIT Media Lab appears to pickup more technology-oriented weblogs than Daypop does.

Winston Cup Points Key to Understanding NASCAR Championship Competition

scott pointed out an article on NASCAR.com which explains how the Winston Cup points system works. The Winston Cup is the NASCAR championship trophy and it is not necessarily awarded to the driver with the best overall finish positions in each race.

We also found an explanation of Winston Cup scoring on howthingswork.com. This document presumes a bit less racing knowledge than the other.

CBS Urged to Remove Graphic Footage from Naudet Film

The Drudge Report pointed out a story from Reuters/Variety that reports that the head of an advisory board of 9/11 victims families has urged CBS to drop any graphic footage from a documentary about the World Trade Center attack that the network plans to air in March. William Schmidt, who is also the prosecutor of Bergen County, NJ, is reported to have written:

While we do not object to the showing of the documentary, we are particularly concerned about the potentially negative psychological effects that graphic details of death and destruction may have on the thousands of individuals who have been traumatized by the events of September 11th.

This is the latest development in the story of CBS's attempt to produce a program that includes portions of the video shot by filmmakers Gedeon and Jules Naudet on September 11. CTDATA.com previously reported on the contract between the Naudets and CBS and the content of the video itself in January and February.

February 27, 2002

Gallup Poll of Arabs: US is "ruthless, aggressive, conceited, arrogant, easily provoked and biased"

Many media outlets, including FT.com, published the results of a Gallup poll of 10,000 people in 9 Islamic countries. In the survey's words, the respondents held a general "belief that western nations do not respect Arab or Islamic values, do not support Arab causes, and do not exhibit fairness towards Arabs."

Many westerners familiar with the politics of the Islamic world have suggested that these beliefs stem as much from propaganda flowing out of state-controlled media outlets in Middle Eastern countries as they do from any actual U.S. policies or actions. Many Arabs also deny, or do not know, of the obvious culpability of their fellow citizens in terrorist attacks on September 11: "... most of those questioned reject the idea that Arabs, specifically Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, carried out the attacks. Significant numbers believe that Israel, or even the US itself, was responsible."

There is a lot we do not comprehend about each other. For instance, The Associated Press published a photograph of four year old Palestinian boy aiming a real AK-47 while he is in the prone position. The photo was taken Monday at an anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rally organized by the Palestinian Public Resistance on the Gaza Strip. Regardless of how we, in the West, would interpret this provocative picture, do any of us expect a child raised in this environment to be open-minded toward the United States when he grows up?

Embattled Music Industry Honors Itself Amid War with Its Own Customers

In one of the most link-rich articles seen lately on a major web site, Ken Layne points out the many problems that the recording industry faces as it gets ready to honor its greatest achievements of 2001 at tonight's Grammy Awards. The article points out that there were four concerts put on by major artists last night in Los Angeles in protest of the current policies of the recording industry.

These policies lock popular musicians into long term contracts that are illegal in the movie and television industries, while limiting the profits that artists can realize from their work to a very small percentage of gross sales. Meanwhile, this same industry is seeking to impose unprecedented restrictions on customers in an attempt to dramatically curtail the distribution of digitized music via the Internet.

There is something seriously wrong when industries as politically influential as the recording and film industries must lobby Congress to try to force electronics manufacturers to change the design of personal computers, VCRs, CD and DVD players, and Personal Video Recorders simultaneously. Especially since, in some cases, the electronics manufacturers are different divisions of the same companies that own the recording and film production companies.

February 26, 2002

OLN Publishes Its 2002 Cycling Schedule

The Outdoor Life Network, otherwise known as OLN, has published its schedule of televised cycling events for the 2002 season. Included in this year's schedule is a re-airing of Tour de France highlights from 2001, many of the Spring Classics including Paris-Roubaix, the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France 2002, and the Vuelta a Espana.

There will also be coverage of a number of NORBA and World Cup Mountain Biking races, and important US races like the Sea Otter Classic and the Housatonic Valley Classic.

Secret Service Agents Lost Security Plan for Closing Ceremonies While Shopping

The Associated Press reports that Secret Service agents shopping for souvenirs lost a security plan for protecting Vice President Cheney at the closing ceremony of the Olympics. The article said:

"It had a pretty detailed description about what was going on," said store owner Clayton Greenhalgh, who discovered the document on a counter Sunday after the agents each purchased an $11 Olympics hat.

Clear Channel Trying to Fool Listeners in Small Markets

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal reported that Clear Channel Communications is using "voice-tracking" to fool listeners in small radio markets into thinking that music programming is originating locally. This is done by using digital recording technology to assemble a program from soundclips of a Disk Jockey's voice and individual songs.

To make the station seem local, the same DJ also voices local commercials and creates soundclips that mention local events, people, and places that fit the context of the show. This allows an on-air personality named Geoff Alan to appear to be a local host in San Diego and Boise, Idaho simultaneously. According to the article, he voice-tracks his program for the Boise market, so that he seems to be present in Idaho and he is also on the air live when his program is actually recorded in San Diego several hours earlier.

Companies have been running "virtual radio stations" for years in small markets like Boise, Idaho, but they've never had the digital technology at their disposal to fool so many listeners into thinking that programming is originating locally.

February 25, 2002

MIT Technology Review Groks Blogging

MIT Technology Review published an article by Henry Jenkins of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT that discusses the growing importance of weblogs and attempts to put weblogs in context with other sources of news and opinion. According to the article:

At a time when many dot coms have failed, blogging is on the rise. We’re in a lull between waves of commercialization in digital media, and bloggers are seizing the moment, potentially increasing cultural diversity and lowering barriers to cultural participation....

In practice, the evolution of most media has been shaped through the interactions between the distributed power of grass-roots participatory media and the concentrated power of corporate/governmental media.... {Now} grass-roots intermediaries may have a moment to redefine the public perception of new media and to expand their influence.

There have been many similar articles in mainstream publications that have attempted to define weblogging and its place in society. But, Henry Jenkins seems to have done a better job than most writers of capturing the spirit of the weblogging community and explaining the role that some webloggers hope to occupy in society.

How to Write a Better Weblog

A List Apart published Dennis A. Mahoney's piece called How to Write a Better Weblog. This article discusses how a unique writing style can differentiate a weblog from more staid, professional writing. It also suggests that the best ways to build audience are to "offer something new" and "amuse your readers" while avoiding repetition of subjects covered by others.

Nikon Announces Six Megapixel Prosumer Digital SLR

Last week, Digital Photography Review reported that Nikon announced the D100 digital single lens reflex camera. According to the article, "The new D100 digital SLR is based on the popular F80 film SLR. The D100 features a six megapixel sensor (1.5x field-of-view crop / focal length multiplier), ISO 200 - 1600 sensitivity, three colour modes (inc. sRGB & Adobe RGB), pop-up flash, five area AF, AF assist lamp, 3D Matrix Meteringplus full Nikon F mount lens support." The D100 is designed to by sold at the high end of the hobbyist market, also known as the "prosumer" niche.

If this camera comes out at any price below $1500, it will cause a lot of serious digital camera hobbyists to rush out and buy it. No word on the estimated retail price, but it is expected to be available this summer.

Dave's Complete Review of "Running Weblogs with Slash" Published on Slashdot

Dave Aiello wrote, "I wrote a full review of "Running Weblogs with Slash", which was published on Slashdot earlier today. This is the first time I have ever had anything I've written published there, and I consider it an honor."

"I'd like to thank my wife, Kathleen, for reading several drafts, and making corrections and suggestions. I'd also like to thank Tim Lord, one of the Slashdot editors, for encouraging me to expand upon the First Impressions of "Running Weblogs with Slash" review that I published on CTDATA two weeks ago."

February 23, 2002

Roots Has Big Expansion Plans in United States

The New York Times reports that Roots plans to open 300 stores in the United States in the next eight years. The article says that the Toronto-based company currently has seven stores in the United States, including Salt Lake City, Manhattan, and Birmingham, Michigan.

The interest in Roots clothing in the United States currently stems from the fact that the Roots is the official uniform supplier to the U.S. Olympic Team. The article explains the history behind the USOC's choice, which hasn't been widely known until now:

The company seems to have clinched the United States Olympic Committee uniform contract more or less by default. A Nike spokeswoman said her company, based in Beaverton, Ore., considered making a bid for the Olympic contract, but could not agree on terms with the committee. The committee signed a contract with Tommy Hilfiger, but rejected the proposed design, and is now suing the company.

The committee then turned to Roots. "It was the quality of the Roots merchandise and the enthusiasm they expressed at the initial meeting," said Matthew B. Biespiel, the committee's managing director for brand development. "When we showed them where we wanted to go, they became extremely excited."

RedHat 7.2 Upgrade: Cleaning Up Gnome Configuration Issues

Dave Aiello wrote, "This is a follow-up to the article I wrote on the RedHat 7.2 upgrade process graphics system problems that I posted in January."

"For several weeks, I have been wondering why both Enlightenment and Sawfish were loading when Gnome was starting up. When I upgraded to RedHat 7.2, I had wanted to switch to Sawfish, because it appeared to be the preferred window manager for Gnome. However, I was having difficulty getting Sawfish to work properly because Enlightenment was loading despite the fact that it was not selected as the window manager. Read on to learn how I solved the problem...."

Dave Aiello continued:

As is the case with everything I do these days, I ended up turning to Google. The key to finding the solution was figuring out the terminology that was used in web pages related to Gnome that could help me solve my problem.

From looking at a number of Gnome-related documents, I determined that a user's desktop manager preference is stored in the session file, generally located at ~/.gnome/session. Once I realized this, I did a Google search for:

Gnome session file

From there, I found a document called Runtime Problems in the Gnome FAQ. This gave me the idea of removing (well, initially renaming) the session file while I was not running Xwindows. In order to do this, I:

  1. logged out of Gnome
  2. pressed Ctrl-Alt-F1 to switch to text mode
  3. logged in as myself (not root)
  4. changed directories to /home/username/.gnome
  5. renamed session to session.old
  6. logged out again
  7. pressed Ctrl-Alt-F7 to switch back to Xwindows mode
  8. logged in as myself again

When I did this, Gnome loaded its default configuration, and this meant that only Sawfish loaded.

My month and a half working with both Enlightenment and Sawfish loaded simultaneously was frustrating in many small ways. I put off solving the problem to "when I get around to it", and today, I just didn't want to deal with it anymore. Now, I need to really learn how to configure Sawfish properly. If I find this difficult or frustrating, I'll write about it here.

In Memory of Chuck Jones

Dave Aiello wrote, "When I sat down at my computer early this morning, I learned that Chuck Jones passed away yesterday at age 89. He was an animator for Warner Brothers who created many of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons that I loved as a kid, and still love today."

"He is personally responsible for the creation of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote characters. I think I identify with Wile E. Coyote often, when I am seeking an elegant solution to a technical problem, and my reach exceeds my grasp."

February 22, 2002

Wall Street Analysts Believe iMac Sales are Strong

News.com reports that Wall Street analysts are seeing evidence of strong demand for Apple's new iMac line of computers. The article quotes Don Young of UBS Warburg as saying, "There is an overwhelming amount of demand for the new iMacs, despite the higher price points." Another analyst speculated that Apple may sell 1.3 million new iMacs in 2002.

Nowhere in this article is any mention of the value customers may be putting on bundled digital content management software called iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and iTunes. The first three applications provide fairly sophisticated editing capabilities to novice digital content producers. Of equal importance, the applications provide organizational help for digital content, filling a major gap in the arsenals of most home computer users. These application definitely eliminate some of the difficulty that regular folks have in choosing digital content management and manipulation software. (iTunes also plays an important role, but, it does not have the same editing capabilities as the other three applications.)

These applications are free to purchasers of the new iMacs, and a tremendous incentive to give the platform a try, even as the second machine in a household where a Windows PC already exists. It's hard for us to understand why the article talks only about boxes moved, and not about the reasons consumers are choosing these machines over other, cheaper alternatives.

February 21, 2002

State Department Confirms Murder of WSJ Reporter in Pakistan

Reuters reports that Dow Jones believes that Daniel Pearl has been killed in Pakistan and that the U.S. State Department has evidence of his execution. Pearl was a Wall Street Journal reporter covering the war in Pakistan when he was kidnapped on January 23. Separately, we learned that The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Pearl is definitely dead, and is running several statements from executives that eulogize him.

This is, of course, an outrageous development and a sign of the desperate lengths to which terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan will go to retaliate against the United States. If they can't beat the United States and its allies on the battlefield, and they don't have the strength to use guerrilla tactics to hit U.S. troops or U.S. facilities, then the next best thing is to kidnap and execute innocent Americans working in country. Further evidence that terrorists and those that aid them must be dealt with severely.

Spinervals Kinetic Trainer: a Heavy Duty Indoor Trainer for Cyclists

Dave Aiello wrote, "Last night, I started using the Kinetic Fluid Trainer that I purchased from Spinervals. This is a stationary cycling trainer which allows you to use your own road or mountain bike for indoor training. It is a so-called fluid resistance trainer, meaning that it contains a hydraulic mechanism that provides resistance to the rear wheel of your bicycle as you pedal."

"I bought this device because I needed a solution that allowed me to exercise at home in the early morning or late evening. This trainer is a relatively cheap way to utilize my bicycle to get that exercise without having to deal with the additional safety measures that are required to ride outside in the dark. Also, using a fluid resistance trainer and a bicycle at home is an 'all-weather' solution."

"I am hoping that the Kinetic Trainer will allow me to get the exercise that I have been missing since I started working long hours, 5 to 6 days a week, at a client site 60 miles away from home. After carefully examining the unit while I was assembling it, I'm fairly confident that it is sturdy enough to take whatever punishment I can dish out to it. More about my experiences with the Kinetic Trainer after I put some miles on it."

Perl.com Provides Tips on Preventing Cross-Site Scripting Attacks

Yesterday, Perl.com published an article by Paul Lidner called Preventing Cross-site Scripting Attacks. This article takes a shot at explaining one of the more poorly understood dangers of Internet programming. It also offers some good tips to help programmers who use CGI.pm and mod_perl to avoid vulnerabilities.

February 20, 2002

Government Reportedly Identified Anthrax Suspect

The Trenton Times is reporting that Barbara Hatch Rosenberg told a group at Princeton University that the FBI has a suspect in the anthrax mailing cases under surveillance. Dr. Rosenberg, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Chemical and Biological Weapons Program, reportedly said that the FBI has known of the suspect since October and, according to her "government insider" sources, has interrogated him more than once.

The Federation of American Scientists is a group known for its advocacy of disarmament, particularly with respect to biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. Rosenberg has published many of her findings in a document on her organization's web site, called Analysis of Anthrax Attacks.

Supreme Court to Take Up the Issue of Length of Copyright Protection

Yesterday, a number of news outlets reported that the Supreme Court has agreed to rule on the constitutionality of The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. This law went into effect in 1998, and it is the latest in a series of laws that has gradually extended the period for which an author or a rights holder can maintain control over a copyrighted piece of intellectual property.

Dan Gillmor wrote an excellent article for today's San Jose Mercury-News that explains why this issue matters to all Americans. In the article, Gillmor points out that media conglomerates are the prime beneficiaries of this law. The impetus for it was the impending loss of copyright protection for a number of cartoon characters, including Mickey Mouse.

Gillmor goes on to point out that the Sonny Bono copyright law and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act have been abused by media companies to stifle technological innovation, prop up markets for otherwise obsolete products, and dramatically constrain the Fair Use doctrine. He cites a number of obvious incongruities, including: "anyone using the image of Santa Claus as a fat man with a beard and red suit would have had to pay royalties during much of the last century if the Bono law had been in effect when a cartoonist dreamed up that caricature in the 1880s." Gillmor says this is an absurdity and we agree with him.

Are They Serious About MPEG-4 License Fees?

Technology news sites have reported on the debate around proposed fees for the use of the MPEG-4 patent collection. The best article we have found summarizing the fees was published on News.com on February 8.

One of the proposed fees is a sort of an exhibition fee that amounts to approximately two cents per hour, each time a work encoded in MPEG-4 is viewed. Many people in the technology industry (example: Doc Searls) find this proposal unworkable.

We could understand an exhibition fee if the only place MPEG-4 were going to be used was at theaters or amusement parks. But these patents will almost certainly be required for future consumer electronic devices. Consumers will never fork over a fee each time their son or daughter watches The Lion King on the TV in the living room. They're used to buying DVDs and VHS tapes for a low, one-time fee and being able to play it as often as they wish. This genie can't be put back in the bottle.

Questions Persist about Microsoft's .NET Architecture, Business Model

Yesterday, News.com published an article providing an overview of Microsoft's progress toward deploying .NET My Services. According to the article, these services are "for hosting and delivering personal information while providing an array of services ranging from commerce to communication in partnership with Web retailers such as eBay."

The problem, as the article points out, is that Microsoft has invested more time and effort in the underlying technology than it has in developing a viable business model that is saleable to companies with which it can partner. The article says, "The almost universal response from potential partners was: 'We don't understand the business model; we don't know how we or Microsoft will make money on the plan; and we don't necessarily trust Microsoft to be the single repository or host for this model....'"

Now, Microsoft is considering integrating the Kerberos distributed security system into .NET. This would allow companies to maintain greater control over their customer information than they would have if Microsoft had been the sole provider of authentication-related services. Will this make companies more likely to partner with Microsoft?

February 19, 2002

Comcast Under Fire for Monitoring Customers' Browsing

Last week, a controversy erupted over Comcast's recent decision to monitor the web surfing habits of its cable modem subscribers. Now, WiredNews reports that Rep. Ed Markey has written a strongly worded letter to Comcast President Brian Roberts, questioning the company's policy.

The most interesting point in the WiredNews article is the revelation that Comcast's Terms of Service with at least some of its customers states that "Comcast may collect information in accordance with applicable law concerning customer's use of the Service ... and other information about a customer's 'electronic browsing.'" We verified the claim made by WiredNews: the provision still appears on the Comcast Online web site.

IBM to Ship VMware Software with Some Large Servers

Martin O'Donnell told us that IBM announced it is partnering with VMware to ship virtual machine software with certain x360 and z800 servers. This is intended to provide customers with a way to consolidate servers on to larger, more powerful machines. This will also allow the IBM servers to simultaneously operate under multiple operating systems.

An article on this subject published in The Wall Street Journal today says, "{IBM} said that a machine equipped with the software will be able to simulate up to 20 individual computers running either Windows or Linux."

Doc Searls on Why Apple Will Not Do an Intel Port of OS X

Over on The Doc Searls Weblog, Doc explains why Apple will probably never port OS X to Intel. He believes that Apple is successfully executing a plan to expand its share of the consumer electronics / computing appliance business and that porting the OS to Intel would divert resources from that goal. Also, Apple now has a mutually profitable relationship with Microsoft, which it is not likely to jeopardize.

February 18, 2002

Handspring Treo 180/180g Now Shipping

Dave Aiello wrote, "Last week while I was away, Handspring announced the nationwide shipment of the Treo 180 and Treo 180g personal communication devices. These are the handheld gadgets that combine a GSM cellular telephone, a Palm OS personal organizer, and an integrated keyboard similar in size and shape to the ones on the face of the RIM Blackberry e-mail pagers."

"I have been having increasing performance problems with my Nokia 8860 mobile phone, and have been looking for a hybrid device so that I can reduce the number of small electronic devices that I need to carry on a daily basis. For those reasons, I decided to throw caution to the wind, buy a Treo, and sign up for a year of GSM service with VoiceStream. Supposedly, I will get the Treo in one to three weeks. Read on for a little bit of the risk analysis that I did before making this purchase decision...."

Dave Aiello continued:

The big risk that has been pointed out by my techno-savvy friends is that VoiceStream's coverage area is not nearly as wide as competitors like Verizon or AT&T Wireless. I plan to mitigate this by not giving up AT&T Wireless service on my wife's mobile phone. If worse comes to worse, and I know I am travelling to an area without VoiceStream service, I will trade phones with her.

Some people may see this solution as impractical, but my thought is that I plan to stay in areas with good VoiceStream coverage most of the time. I also have really wanted to get more experience with GSM/GPRS-compatible devices, and don't want to wait months for Handspring to come out with a CDMA/1x-compatible version of the Treo.

Finally, I hope that either AT&T Wireless or Cingular to deploy GSM service in Central and Northern New Jersey sometime in the next 12 months. So, I am betting that VoiceStream service will be "good enough" to tide me over for the next 12 months. If this turns out to be a complete disaster, I will buy my way out of my contract commitment and switch over to a more robust mobile phone network.

On the other hand, if the service is good enough, I will almost certainly be able to reduce my monthly charges by eliminating the Cingular Wireless Data service charge that I pay for my Blackberry. This will save me almost $500 per year, which will more than pay for me to upgrade my VoiceStream calling/data plan if I really like the way the Treo works for me.

I will write more about my experiences with the Treo here, once I receive the unit and start using it.

February 16, 2002

Harvey Cohen Reaches 400 Victories in NJ High School Ice Hockey

Dave Aiello wrote, "Congratulations to Harvey Cohen of Chatham High School. He is the third ice hockey coach in NJSIAA history to reach 400 career wins. The 400th victory came against Toms River East High School, 3-2, on February 7."

"This is a truly amazing accomplishment and a testament to Harvey Cohen's ability to win consistently with players of widely differing abilities over many years. He's had every type of player in the past 31 seasons, from National Hockey League-caliber players like David Williams to boys in their first season of organized ice hockey. My brother, Scott Aiello, and I each played four seasons for Mr. Cohen, and we wish we could do more to draw attention to this great achievement."

CTDATA Back from a Mid-Winter Hiatus

Dave Aiello wrote, "Kathleen and I spent several days at DisneyWorld this week. We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, a very nice resort that used to be called Dixie Landings."

"The week before the President's Day holiday is a great time to go to Orlando. The weather was good: 65 - 70 degrees F and mostly sunny during the day. The crowds were minimal because most school-aged kids are in school. We needed the break. I got in about 10 miles of jogging, which more than doubled my mileage for the month."

"You may have noticed that the amount of new information that appeared on CTDATA.com fell slightly while I was away. So did I. I'm not apologizing."

February 15, 2002

GM to Layoff 1,100 at Linden Truck Plant

The Associated Press reports that General Motors will layoff 1,100 workers at its Linden Assembly Plant. This is the second major layoff at an automobile industry plant in New Jersey in the last six weeks. Ford announced layoffs at its Edison plant in January.

February 8, 2002

ArsDigita Liquidated, Assets Sold to Red Hat

Slashdot pointed out this Mass High Tech article that says that ArsDigita has shut down and sold its assets to RedHat. Most of the valuable assets were apparently related to ArsDigita's professional services business.

ArsDigita was the consulting vehicle that implemented many of Philip Greenspun's ideas about web publishing systems. Over the past few years, ArsDigita developed some high profile web sites for large companies and non-profit organizations. However, its roster of large corporate customers was never as large as their PR material indicated.

It's too bad that this company failed, because its strategy of leveraging OpenSource tools to build large Content Management Systems is one that we also support in some instances. However, they tried to become a big company, and this strategy probably had more to do with their downfall than their choice of web tools.

Why Getting Laid Off is Better than Building a Proprietary CMS

You have to appreciate CMSwatch's editor's ability to write a headline that grabs and holds the reader. They published an article by Barry Bealer in August, entitled Why Getting Laid Off is Better than Building a Proprietary CMS. We agree that corporate IT departments starting to build a "from-the-ground-up" Content Management Systems in 2002 ought to have their collective heads examined. Everyone should begin a content management project by building on a CMS platform that has been used in other projects of similar scope and importance.

However, notice that the opinion piece does not call upon all corporations to license one of the expensive, enterprise-level content management systems like Vignette or Broadvision. According to the article: "The more open the solution, the better able you are to complete system maintenance and upgrades and the less tied to a resource you are. The key is to be sure your system is built using industry standards and is well documented."

There are lots of publishing systems, including big, expensive solutions, less expensive commercial solutions like Manila, and Open Source solutions like Zope and Midgard. BTW, how can the folks at CMSwatch leave out systems like Slashcode and Bricolage?

Hat tip for locating this goes to Camworld.

February 7, 2002

Target Exec Explains Importance of Brand in Competition with Wal-Mart, Kmart

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Jerry Storch, a senior Target Corporation executive, said Target's differentiation from Wal-Mart is the key to its prosperity. He also talked about the difficulties that Kmart is having competing on a national basis with other discount retailers.

This article is interesting because it lays out the competitive positions of Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart, as well as their success (or failure) in executing their business plans. It also talks about Target's market capitalization (the value of its business) relative to a number of large corporations that are considered its competitors.

Coincidentally, Reuters reports that Target and Wal-Mart are definitely benefitting from Kmart's difficulties in bankruptcy and that analysts expect them to reap further benefits in the future.

First Impressions of "Running Weblogs with Slash"

Dave Aiello wrote, "Yesterday, I received my copy of Running Weblogs with Slash from our friends at Amazon.com. After browsing through it after dinner, I have come to the conclusion that it's a must-read for people who are installing or trying to maintain a Slash 2.x-based site."

"Running Weblogs with Slash seems like a well balanced book. It devotes an equal amount of space to an overview of Slash architecture, installation, community building, look and feel customizations, and advanced administration. These subjects represent about 75 percent of the book. The remaining 25 percent, which is actually the middle of the book, is devoted to basic administration of a Slash site. As far as I'm concerned, this section takes a lot of the trial-and-error out of the process of starting up a Slash site, from an administrative perspective."

"You may know that I run CTDATA.com and RCNJ.org on top of a substantially modified version of the Slash 0.3 codebase, which we refer to internally as Slash 0.4. I have been waiting for the right moment to embark on The Big Upgrade, and lately, I've been holding off on moving ahead because I thought this book would help us. At this point I have to say that I'm glad we waited."

"I hightly recommend purchase of the book. Practically everyone who has a Slash site or is trying to build one will learn something from it. I will try to post a more detailed review here, after I have a chance to read the book in greater depth."

February 6, 2002

TiVo Provides Some Insight into SuperBowl Viewing Habits

Dave Aiello wrote, "On Monday, The Associated Press reported that TiVo provided some high-level analysis of a select group of its customers SuperBowl viewing habits. Among other insights in the article, 'TiVo did not release actual numbers on how many times viewers used instant-replay or slow-motion functions. But it said the special features were used an average of 44 times per household during the broadcast.'"

"I watched the game on my TiVo-powered set at home, along with my wife and sister. We definitely used the replay feature several times. We also recorded the entire game, so that we could go back and watch any commercials or plays that proved to be important in retrospect."

"The biggest problem we experienced was that the SuperBowl broadcast was sub-divided into a pre-game and a main game program, and the main program was only scheduled to be 3 hours long. We ended up having to record the next scheduled program (something called 'Malcolm in the Middle') in order to capture the end of the game and the post game show. We could have worked around this by using the advanced schedule features, but we did not think that far ahead."

Jim McKay "Lent" by ABC to NBC for Winter Olympics

The New York Times reports that Jim McKay of ABC Sports will be lent to NBC for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. McKay will play the role of "senior correspondent".

The article explains the extraordinary negotiations between ABC and NBC over employment of McKay, whose voice is inseparable with Olympic television coverage for many Americans. Part of the reason that the negotiations initially took place was that so many of the senior executives from ABC and NBC had trained under Jim McKay early in their careers. The fact that all parties involved in this negotiation agreed to work together is truly amazing, considering the mistrust that broadcast networks have had for each other in recent years.

Palm Announces Palm OS 5.0

Yesterday, Palm announced some of the details of the next version of its operating system in the Palm OS 5 Preview. The new version focuses on improvements in security, multimedia support, and wireless connectivity.

This announcement has been much anticipated and will be carefully scrutinized. Hopefully, the designers have done their homework, and the Palm platform will remain competitive with Windows CE. We certainly believe that it will be easier to create mobile Internet access devices under Palm OS 5 than it has been under Palm OS 3.5 and 4.0.

ActiveState Releases Perl Dev Kit 4.0

ActiveState is now shipping Perl Dev Kit Version 4.0. This is the latest followup to the successful book/CD set that it co-published with O'Reilly several years ago.

The new Perl Dev Kit includes support for .NET, HP-UX, and Windows 95-98. Read on for a copy of the announcement mailed to registered users of previous versions....

ActiveState is pleased to announce the release of Perl Dev Kit 4.0, the
essential toolkit for Perl programmers.

Key new features in Perl Dev Kit 4.0 include:

* PerlNET - Existing Perl scripts can now be turned into .NET components and
used seamlessly in .NET Framework applications
* PerlApp - Support for Windows 9x/Me and HP-UX
* PerlCtrl - Support for Windows 9x/Me
* Smaller footprint for executables - PerlApp and PerlCtrl binaries reduced by

Included with Perl Dev Kit 4.0:

* PerlApp - Turn your Perl programs into ready-to-run executables
* PerlNET - Perl component builder for the Microsoft .NET Framework
* Perl Debugger - Painless, simple debugging for Perl scripts
* PerlCtrl - Build ActiveX controls with Perl
* PerlCOM - - Embed Perl interpreters into client applications
* PerlMSI - Use Perl programs to create Microsoft MSI installation files
* PerlSvc - Convert your Perl programs into Windows services
* Visual Package Manager - Manage your Perl installation locally or remotely

** Pricing and Licensing **

The Perl Dev Kit 4.0 is available for only $195. For more information, free
evaluation licenses, or to purchase, see:

Registered users of previous versions can upgrade to Perl Dev Kit 4.0 for only
$79.95. To upgrade, see:

Perl Dev Kit 4.0 is also included with membership to ASPN Perl, the complete
solution suite for Perl programmers. ASPN Perl also features Visual Perl, the
Perl plug-in for Visual Studio .NET; Komodo, the cross-platform, multi-language
IDE; plus access to Perl reference materials, interactive tools, and
comprehensive programming resources. For more information on ASPN Perl, see:

** Important installation information **

Please note that you *must* uninstall any previous versions of Perl Dev Kit
before installing Perl Dev Kit 4.0. If older versions are present the
installation will not replace certain key files, despite appearing to complete

** Patch available for PerlCtrl **

Earlier versions of the Perl Dev Kit contained a bug in the PerlCtrl component
that may result in deletion of the file system. This bug is not present in the
Perl Dev Kit 4.0 release.

Registered users of Perl Dev Kit 2.0 build 206 and up who do not wish to upgrade
at this time may obtain a free patch here:

The patch is a single file "perlctrl.bin" that replaces the file of the same
name in the \perl\bin directory.


Programming for the People

* * * * *

We'd like to hear what you think! Please send any comments and suggestions to:

Naudet Film of WTC Attack to Air on CBS in March

The New York Post reports that CBS has secured the rights to the video shot by Gedeon and Jules Naudet during the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11.

As CTDATA.com reported last month, the Naudet video was intended to be part of a documentary on the NYFD. Shooting was coincidentally taking place in Lower Manhattan the morning of September 11. Since the unedited video contains footage of one of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, the response of firefighters to the site, and subsequent rescue efforts, it has been shown repeatedly at firehouses and police stations throughout New York City. But, up to now, this video has been largely unavailable to the general public.

It will be interesting to see how extensively CBS edits the video. The brief segments of the video that have been shown on TV have been disturbing, and it is quite likely that some viewers will be disturbed by any segment of this video if it is aired on national television. However, we believe that the networks have gone too far in limiting public access to historical footage of the September 11 attacks. This has contributed to greater public confusion over the specific events of that day, as images recede further in individuals' memories.

Update: CTDATA has learned that DVD and VHS versions of the 9|11 documentary will be released by Paramount Home Video on September 10, 2002. For more information, read our story on the release of the film.

February 5, 2002

AOL's Vision of an Integrated Digital Future May Not Mesh with Customer Wants

Heather Green wrote an excellent article in BusinessWeek relating her mother's reaction to a vision of the future presented by AOL's CEO at a meeting of a Virginia county chamber of commerce meeting. According to the article:

Barry Schuler, CEO of America Online... laid out AOL's grand vision of being the digital heartbeat of a household. A magic combination of wireless, broadband, and networking technology would control and link every device in the home -- and deliver AOL Time Warner's music, movie, and online content.

My mom had a couple of questions after being presented with this glimpse of the digital future.... She knows why AOL Time Warner wants to keep pushing itself into her life -- and pocketbook. But why would she buy everything the media giant wants to sell her{?}

iFilm.com Provides Complete Set of Superbowl Ads in Windows Media and Real Formats

We noticed that iFilm.com is providing a handy archive of all of the Superbowl advertisements broadcast on Fox in the United States. The ads are available in two major Internet video formats (Windows Media and Real Player), so most people will find a copy that they can easily play over a broadband connection.

It would be nice if iFilm.com kept these ads around until next year, so that these ads can be compared to the ones on SuperBowl XXXVII. Can you imagine what the comparison between this year's ads and last year's would be like?

February 4, 2002

Amazon.com Now Shipping "Running Weblogs with Slash"

Dave Aiello wrote, "I received an email from Amazon.com today indicating that they shipped me a copy of Running Weblogs With Slash. This is the first place I've seen this book available. If you've been waiting for it as long as I have, now may be the time to place your order."

"Once I receive my copy, I will go through it as quickly as possible, and post an initial review here at CTDATA.com."

SF Chronicle: Verizon Wireless' Express Network "Not that Great"

Henry Norr writes about the Verizon Express Network in today's San Francisco Chronicle. The Express Network is the first widely-deployed 3G mobile data network in the United States, currently operating in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Northeastern United States, and the Greater Salt Lake City Area.

Norr points out that the service will not be confused with broadband, regularly producing throughput of "only" 30 to 35 kbps in the San Francisco Bay area. But, then he relates the comments of a Verizon engineer: "...Ricochet is gone, and {an} 802.11b network works only within a radius of about 150 feet {of the base station}. The Verizon network is up and running today, and it encompasses most of the Bay Area from Gilroy to Petaluma."

In the East, the network basically works along the coast from Norfolk, VA, to Hartford, CT, and inland for a distance of 75-100 miles. It also works in the Providence-Boston-Nashua metroplex and the Portland, ME metro area. See the service maps at verizonwireless.com.

We believe that the Verizon Express Network is a significant step forward in wireless networking capability, and we will continue to seek out reviews and first-hand accounts of user experiences. We are trying to determine if this technology is good enough to make us choose to purchase devices compatible with Verizon's CDMA network instead of the GSM networks deployed or under construction from VoiceStream, AT&T Wireless, and Cingular.

Patriots Win SuperBowl XXXVI in an Upset

The Boston Globe is reporting that the New England Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams, 20-17 on a last minute field goal by Adam Vinatieri. This brings an end to a 16 year professional championship drought for the City of Boston.

Due to the timing of the end of the game, television coverage of the celebrations around Boston and throughout New England was limited. But, Boston.com has a number of good slideshows showing local celebrations.

mlife Turns Out to Be AT&T Wireless

Over the past couple of weeks, many people have commented on the mystery surrounding the What is mlife? advertising campaign. We suspected that the meaning of the campaign would be revealed during the SuperBowl, which came to pass. It turns out that mlife is a new branding effort for AT&T Wireless Services.

We had searched the web for mlife about a week ago, but very little information had been available at that time. It turns out that real information about the ad campaign started appearing on the web on Friday and Saturday. The first article we saw that explained the bulk of the campaign appeared on internetnews.com on Friday. An even more definitive story came from Bloomberg News on Saturday, which was published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

We would have expected that mlife was the AT&T Wireless brand name for GSM wireless services, particularly given the mention of Short Message Services (SMS) in the ad that followed the revelation of the relationship between mlife and AT&T Wireless. But, this idea was debunked in a conference call on Friday by John Zeglis, AT&T Wireless chairman and chief executive officer. Zeglis said, "With this new brand campaign, we are making a bold break from our industry's obsession with plans, prices, promotions, and patter about esoteric technology issues."

February 2, 2002

Governor McGreevey Breaks Leg Walking on Cape May Beach

CNN.com reports that new New Jersey governor James McGreevey broke his left femur when he stepped off a sand ledge on a Cape May, NJ beach before dinner on Friday night. He ended up having surgery instead at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

February 1, 2002

FAA Possibly Building Massive Passenger Profiling System

The Washington Post reports that the FAA and a number of technology companies are working on a prototype for a passenger profiling application that may incorporate access to travel itineraries, credit and drivers license records, and a number of other public and private databases of information about individuals. The purpose of this application would be to profile everyone who is scheduled to fly on a commercial flight, and identify any potential terrorists.

If an application of this nature were implemented throughout the country, it would greatly improve supervision of foreigners from non-visa countries. Many travelers from non-visa countries are never checked against government watch lists. However, Americans would probably consider routine use of this type of application on all airline passengers an invasion of their privacy.