November 22, 2007

The Desolate Wilderness and the Fair Land

This article was originally published on on November 23, 2000.

There is no doubt in my mind that of all American holidays, Thanksgiving is the greatest. I often wonder how a holiday like this has survived through the constant change that is our nation's history. Yet all Americans, regardless of our beliefs, take the time to be with friends and family and to thank God for the blessings that He has bestowed on us.

Each year, The Wall Street Journal publishes two articles on its Editorial page on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I want to thank them for making these articles available on their free Web Site, Reading them is one of my favorite moments of the season.

The Desolate Wilderness, taken from Nathaniel Morton's New England's Memorial:

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits....

And the Fair Land written by Vermont Royster, 1949:

.... We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth....

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from everyone at CTDATA.

November 22, 2006

The Desolate Wilderness and the Fair Land

This article was originally published on on November 23, 2000.

There is no doubt in my mind that of all American holidays, Thanksgiving is the greatest. I often wonder how a holiday like this has survived through the constant change that is our nation's history. Yet all Americans, regardless of our beliefs, take the time to be with friends and family and to thank God for the blessings that He has bestowed on us.

Each year, The Wall Street Journal publishes two articles on its Editorial page on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I want to thank them for making these articles available on their free Web Site, Reading them is one of my favorite moments of the season.

The Desolate Wilderness, taken from Nathaniel Morton's New England's Memorial:

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits....

And the Fair Land written by Vermont Royster, 1949:

.... We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth....

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from everyone at CTDATA.

November 23, 2005

The Desolate Wilderness and the Fair Land

This article was originally published on on November 23, 2000.

There is no doubt in my mind that of all American holidays, Thanksgiving is the greatest. I often wonder how a holiday like this has survived through the constant change that is our nation's history. Yet all Americans, regardless of our beliefs, take the time to be with friends and family and to thank God for the blessings that He has bestowed on us.

Each year, The Wall Street Journal publishes two articles on its Editorial page on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I want to thank them for making these articles available on their free Web Site, Reading them is one of my favorite moments of the season.

The Desolate Wilderness, taken from Nathaniel Morton's New England's Memorial:

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits....

And the Fair Land written by Vermont Royster, 1949:

.... We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth....

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from everyone at CTDATA.

November 24, 2004

The Desolate Wilderness and the Fair Land

This article was originally published on on November 23, 2000.

Dave Aiello wrote, "There is no doubt in my mind that of all American holidays, Thanksgiving is the greatest. I often wonder how a holiday like this has survived through the constant change that is our nation's history. Yet, all Americans, regardless of our beliefs, take the time to be with friends and family, and to thank God for the blessings that He has bestowed upon us."

"Each year, The Wall Street Journal publishes two articles on its Editorial page on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I want to thank them for making these articles available on their free Web Site, Reading them is one of my favorite moments of the season."

The Desolate Wilderness, taken from Nathaniel Morton's New England's Memorial:

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they
knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to
Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits....

And the Fair Land written by Vermont Royster, 1949:

.... We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth....

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from everyone at CTDATA.

November 26, 2003

The Desolate Wilderness and the Fair Land

This article was originally published on on November 23, 2000.

Dave Aiello wrote, "There is no doubt in my mind that of all American holidays, Thanksgiving is the greatest. I often wonder how a holiday like this has survived through the constant change that is our nation's history. Yet, all Americans, regardless of our beliefs, take the time to be with friends and family, and to thank God for the blessings that He has bestowed upon us."

"Each year, The Wall Street Journal publishes two articles on its Editorial page on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I want to thank them for making these articles available on their free Web Site, Reading them is one of my favorite moments of the season."

The Desolate Wilderness, taken from Nathaniel Morton's New England's Memorial:

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they
knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to
Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits....

And the Fair Land written by Vermont Royster, 1949:

.... We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth....

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from everyone at CTDATA.

October 29, 2003

Getting Ready for the Holidays by Building an Wish List

Dave Aiello wrote, "The continued expansion of has made it even more enticing to establish a Wish List for yourself this holiday season. In order to help readers of identify some best practices in setting up a Wish List, I added some new items to mine over the past few days:"

(Note: Please consult Dave Aiello's Wish List while reading this article. If you find this article helpful, you now know how to show your appreciation.)

  1. Include items other than books, music, and recorded video. achieved early fame through its book, music, and DVD/VHS stores. But, did you know that Amazon has now established a Sporting Goods store with products from partners like Road Runner Sports? This is one of my favorite mail order retailers, where I buy most of my running shoes and exercise clothing.
  2. Include items at a number of price points.
    When building a Wish List, it's a really good idea to include items that are inexpensive in addition to things that would be considered more significant gifts. After all, you want to encourage people to visit your Wish List for any number of gift giving opportunities.

    I added things like a pound of my favorite candy and
    a moderately priced digital camera to a list that had previously been dominated by books and videos priced between $10 and $50.

  3. Add things you need to replace because you've overused them.

    Have you ever used a product until it broke? I've been doing that more and more recently. Over the summer, I broke the lens on my 35mm SLR film camera. I have had my Nikon N50 single lens reflex camera for many years. It's perfect for my film photography needs. But, until I get a new lens, the zoom feature of my original lens is stuck at around 40mm. This is clearly an opportunity for one of the members of my family to get me a gift that they know I'll use regularly.

  4. Link your Wish List to your web site.

    Once you're done adding things to your Wish List, you can publicize it in a number of ways. One of the more effective ways to publicize it is to add a link to it from your web site.

    The book Amazon Hacks from O'Reilly mentions a really simple URL shortcut to any Wish List: address of Wish List owner

    This is an example of the kind of time and effort saving hints that are found in the Amazon Hacks book. I recommend it highly.

These are the ideas that came to mind while I was updating my Wish List earlier this week. I hope they help you get the kind of gifts that you want during the upcoming holiday season.

September 26, 2003

RPM Corporation Promotes the "Value of 168"

Earlier this week RPM Corporation issued its 2003 annual report entitled The Value of 168. According to their report:

The Value of 168 is a statement of the corporate philosophy of RPM. This figure, often cited by our founder, Frank C. Sullivan, literally represents the number of hours in a week. On a deeper level, it serves to remind us of his belief that we are born with two great gifts: life and the time to do something with it.

This concept is interesting in at least two ways:

  1. With all the emphasis that people have placed on 24 x 7 in recent years, it's surprising that no one else has "done the math", realized that the product of the equation is 168, and used it in a marketing campaign.
  2. It's an interesting coincidence that this annual report comes out only a few days before the publication of Lance Armstrong's book "Every Second Counts". The founder of RPM was talking about the same thing that the great cycling champion is talking about today.

September 6, 2003

Back from a Week of Vacation

Dave Aiello wrote, "Some of you may have noticed that my wife and I were on vacation from August 30 to September 6. We stayed in beautiful Stone Harbor, NJ, aptly described as The Seashore at its Best."

"This is the first time that I have stayed in a rented house in Stone Harbor since the mid 1980s, and I forgot how much I enjoy it. The town has changed remarkably little since I was a kid. The weather was good for most of the trip, and we were there for enough time to really relax."

"In case you were wondering, I got 5,898 email messages during the week. I'm sure many of them are spam. It's taking quite a while to download them, and it will probably take longer to read through the ones that pass through Mozilla's filtering system."

"If you've been trying to get in touch with me, I'll probably contact you in the next day or two. I hope that you had as much fun as Kathleen and I did this week. But, I doubt it...."

August 25, 2003

Dave Aiello Finishes "2003 Lighter Than Air Duathlon"

Dave Aiello wrote, "A few of my friends and most of my relatives already know that I competed yesterday in the 2003 Lighter Than Air Duathlon at Lakehurst Naval Air Station along the Jersey Shore. This was a multi-sport race ('multi' in this case means two): a 3 mile run, followed by a 20 mile bike ride, followed by a 2 mile run."

"I finished in 1:55:20, good for 216th place out of 262 finishers. I think this is a good result. This was my first duathlon in 3 years, and I was riding a mountain bike against competitors who were riding 'road' or 'triathlon' bikes. (Those bikes can be ridden much faster than a mountain bike.)"

"The race was conducted under nearly ideal conditions. The weather was 10 to 15 degrees F cooler than normal with clear skies. The course was mostly flat. The worst parts of the whole event were the vehicle inspections (required by the Navy because this is war time) and the wind during the bike portion of the race."

August 15, 2003

Power Failure Leaves Much of Northeastern U.S. in the Dark

We note the massive failure of the electric power grids that serve much of the Northeastern United States. It began yesterday at 4:11pm EDT. At that time, there was a brown out at our office in East Windsor, NJ, that lasted about 30 seconds. After that, the power came back to normal and stayed there.

People in places like New York City were not so fortunate. Those of us who were lucky enough to have access to a TV watched people walk across the New York City bridges for hours after the lights went out. You could understand why people who were in Manhattan momentarily feared another terror attack.

Already there is a rush to find the entity that is ultimately responsible for this event. News reports have suggested that this event is a virtual repeat of the power failure that occurred in the autumn of 1965. We suggest waiting until the lights come back on for everyone before beginning the investigations.

August 13, 2003

In Memory of Peter A. Frank

Dave Aiello wrote, "Last Thursday, Peter Andreas Frank died as a result of a brain tumor. I have known Peter for 15 years, and he is one of my best friends. We went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute together."

"Peter was in the Krankenhaus Nordwest in Frankfurt, Germany for the last two and one-half months of his life. He was often visited there by his family and friends that live in the Frankfurt region."

"Peter's original brain tumor was discovered back in 1993. He outlived everyone's expectations, including the expectations of all of the doctors that consulted on his case. I went to visit him for the last time in May when he was still living in Zurich, Switzerland with his wife, Ramona Morel. At that time, most people familiar with his case thought he would die in late May or early June."

"The way Peter and his family dealt with the last stages of his illness was courageous and amazing. Over the past few weeks, it was clear to me that Peter's wife and his father were reaching a point of emotional exhaustion. Yet, they bravely hung on to the end."

"For the past month or so, it has been been painful for me to think about Peter's quality of life. I found myself torn between hoping for his quick and merciful death, and hoping for some sort of miraculous recovery that would allow him to be himself again."

"When Ramona called me to say that he had died, I was more than a little surprised. None of the difficulties that had happened to him had managed to kill him before. After 10 years of struggle, it seemed like he could live on through almost anything."

"Each summer for the last three years, I have read (or listened to) Lance Armstong's book,
It's Not About the Bike
. The first time I did this, I was primarily interested in Armstrong's book in connection with cycling. But recently, I have read the book with more interest in what it says about fighting cancer. When I read this passage, I thought of Peter:"

Good, strong people get cancer, and they do all the right things to beat it, and they still die. That is the essential truth you learn. People die. And after you learn it, all other matters seem irrelevant. They just seem small.

"Peter's death has definitely made my daily work seem insignificant. But, he would be the first person to tell me to pull myself together and do something constructive. So, I'll do my best."

June 10, 2003

New Jersey Devils Beat Anaheim Mighty Ducks for the Stanley Cup

Dave Aiello wrote, "On, I've been writing about the Stanley Cup Finals. Last night, the New Jersey Devils beat Anaheim 3-0 to win the Cup. I was really disappointed for Adam Oates, a Rensselaer alumnus nearing the end of a great hockey career, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the goaltender who came out of nowhere to have a brilliant playoff. I won't forget the pictures of Giguere crying moments before receiving The Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs for a while."

"The Devils are a great team and worthy champions. I know a lot of people who work for the Devils through hockey officiating, and I'm sure they are happy this morning."

June 5, 2003

Heads Roll at the New York Times

Dave Aiello wrote, "In one of the more momentus events in establishment jounalism, the executive editor and managing editor of the New York Times have resigned. Apparently, this was in response to continued internal division over the Jayson Blair case. This scandal and related events have sent shockwaves through the mainstream media in America."

"We can only hope that the editorial biases that reached absurd levels during Raines' tenure are reduced in the course of this leadership change. Many conservatives have commented on the obvious liberal bias that seeped from the Times' editorial page into feature stories. But, similar biases have crept into many aspects of Times reporting, including technology stories."

"CTDATA was chided by some webloggers for suggesting that an article that appeared in the New York Times in February about the acquisition of Pyra Labs by Google was subtly biased. It was said that David Gallagher, the author of the piece, was a card-carrying member of the weblog community-- therefore his article could not be as biased as we suggested."

"But, we were right about the Times' deep-rooted need to push its agendas. It should not be considered The Paper of Record, as it has been in the past, until it cleans up its act. The Times must demonstrate over a period of time that it can be trusted to give us the story straight, without spin, and without selective exclusion of issues that don't fit its world view."

"Until it does, we will do our best to find other news sources to reference in our articles."

May 29, 2003

Happy 100th Birthday, Bob Hope

Dave Aiello wrote, "I'd feel guilty if I didn't post an article on recognizing the 100th birthday of Bob Hope. When I think of the number of people who have been entertained by Bob Hope over the years, it makes the impact of the Internet seem small to me. This may be an apples to oranges comparison, but that's up to you to decide."

"Dave Winer of Scripting News pointed out this excellent online exhibit of Bob Hope's life and work, developed by The Library of Congress. I'd like to drive a little more traffic to it if I can."

May 8, 2003

Hitting the Reset Button

Dave Aiello wrote, "I've been in a funk this week for a number of reasons. The public ones are that the weather has been bad for a few days here in Central NJ, I had jury duty this week for the first time in my life, I'm waiting to hear the result of a presentation for new business I made several weeks ago, and I'm repricing the part of our experimental used book inventory that remains unsold. This is a deadly combination of boringness."

"The other way you can tell I'm not engaged is that I've posted almost nothing on CTDATA. In most cases, slow periods in the business are when I do my most prolific article posting. Not so this week anyway."

"Today I got tired of waiting for the skies to clear and decided to invent my own Spring Classic: A 27.3 mile (44 km) ride from the World Headquarters in East Windsor, NJ to Rocky Hill, NJ, via The Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath. I rode the towpath from Washington Road in Princeton to Route 518 and back (see the map). Lots of standing water after a day and a night of intermittent rain."

"This was the kind of ride a recreational cyclist needs to do once in a while, if only to demonstrate that you don't need perfect conditions. It was the kind of ride where you find gritty mud on the inside of your clothes when you get home. Too bad I didn't take a picture of myself."

April 22, 2003

New Jersey Modernizing Motor Vehicle Licensing

Dave Aiello wrote, "The Newark Star-Ledger reports that New Jersey will finally upgrade its motor vehicle licensing system in order to reduce the incidence of identity theft and fraud. The new issuance procedure will begin in July and initially target 'people whose documents raised suspicions', including absent or incomplete Social Security Numbers, duplicate licenses that have been issued, and undeliverable home addresses."

"This process cannot begin soon enough. Many people in New Jersey know that the Department of Motor Vehicles is a national security risk. Today's procedures have numerous loop holes that have been abused for years. People who have entered the country illegally have used the DMV to legitimize themselves, and most law-abiding citizens have no idea that this takes place."

"Although delays at DMV offices may be lengthy, New Jerseyans should realize that an overall increase in the validity of drivers licenses is in everyone's interest."

April 9, 2003

In Memory of David Bloom, NBC Correspondent

Dave Aiello wrote, "CTDATA notes the untimely death of David Bloom of NBC News from a pulmonary embolism. At the time of his death, Bloom was an embedded correspondent with the Third Infantry Division, en route to Baghdad."

"In the week before he died, David Bloom caught my imagination with the innovative broadcast techniques he was using to create visually clear and distinctive reports from the battlefield in Iraq. Apparently, I am not the only technology fan who noticed."

"The Bloommobile, a modified M-88 Tank Recovery vehicle, was the only mobile broadcast facility that seemed able to keep up with the army's rapid advance across the Iraqi desert. According to the tribute article on"

Bloom and his cameraman mounted a gyrostabilized camera — the kind that’s mounted on helicopters — to produce jiggle-free video even when the M-88 was bumping along at 50 mph or more. Then the sharper-than-videophone signal was sent via microwave to a converted Ford F-450 crew-cab truck, two to 10 miles farther back in the column. An antenna on the truck transmitted the signal in real time from its own gyrostabilized platform to an overhead satellite, which relayed it to NBC.

"This could never have been done before because the concept of embedded correspondents itself is novel in this war. I expect that this type of broadcast will become a staple of coverage of future military actions."

"I was so taken by the reports that David Bloom was making last week that I brought it up to friends of mine at an ice hockey tournament at which I was officiating. Normally, hockey offcials would not discuss new technologies employed by television news correspondents at a national championship tournament."

"It's a tragedy that Bloom died from an embolism. According to an account in BusinessWeek by Frederik Balfour, Bloom sought medical advice and was told that he might have deep vein thrombosis which should be treated. He probably interpreted this the way most young men would-- he was told there was a small risk of something very bad happening and he decided that it probably wouldn't happen to him. I'm not sure what anyone who was in the midst of one of the hottest news story of the decade-- who already had a large slice of America's attention-- would have done differently."

"The heartbreaking part of this story is that his family has lost a husband and a father. Bloom died doing something he obviously loved, but, I'm sure we all wish that he hadn't been so caught up in the intensity of the march to Baghdad."

March 27, 2003

A Number of Alternatives Exist in Ink Jet Printer Market

Scott Aiello is looking for a low cost ink jet printer for his personal computer and asked for some ideas on how to choose a good one. The most advertised brands in the market are Hewlett-Packard and Epson, although there are a number of other brands that offer good products.

One of the most useful sites for narrowing down the field is CNET. Their database of ink jet printers contains 425 different models. It allows you to search by release date, name, editors' ratings, value ratings, and price. CNET also has a fairly comprehensive price comparison service, although it primarily covers on-line merchants.

Another useful article related to the subject was written by Walt Mossberg and published in today's Wall Street Journal. Mossberg talks about one of Dell's new printers and compares it to a previously released printer from H-P. The article says that the Dell printer is essentially the same as another printer in the Lexmark product line. Both models, in fact, are made by Lexmark.

The new Dell model discussed is a multi-function device that is more of a printer-scanner-fax than a simple printer. Our point in mentioning this article was to illustrate the existance of yet another competitor in this market. We are sure that printers from Dell will be competitive in terms of price and features with most devices on the market.

March 25, 2003

CBS: U.S. Dropped Microwave Pulse Bomb on Baghdad TV Transmitter

CBS News is reporting that the U.S. Air Force dropped a so-called E-bomb on the transmitter for Iraqi TV in Baghdad. This is a microwave pulse bomb designed to disable electronic devices.

The existence of this type of weapon in the U.S. arsenal is not acknowledged by the Department of Defense. If it has been used in this case, it is the first time a weapon of this nature has been seen in combat. Such weapons have been talked about theoretically for years.

March 3, 2003

NY Times: Quake Players to Reenact 1994 Friends Episode

The New York Times reports in its Arts Online section that Quake III Arena players led by Joseph DeLappe will reenact a "Friends" episode in an on-line game:

On Saturday Mr. DeLappe and five fellow players will convene in cyberspace to perform "Quake/Friends." The actors will appear on the computer screen as typical "Quake" gladiators, but each will have assumed the role and identity of a "Friends" character. Then, using the game's instant-message system, they will re-enact the real show's 1994 pilot episode in the "Quake" space by typing and transmitting dialogue to other players' screens.

So far, so dull. But online performance is, in a way, a form of street theater, and audience participation is expected to enliven the action. While the "Quake/Friends" actors won't fire their weapons, unsuspecting "Quake" players will notice that a game is under way and will be able to enter the show with their own guns blazing. In a game whose sole goal is to kill as many as possible, Monica will be mowed down and Chandler chopped in half.

Hopefully, statistics will be published on the total number of times each Friends character is killed during the game.

February 27, 2003

In Memory of "Mister Rogers"

Dave Aiello wrote, "By now, everyone has heard that Fred Rogers died today of cancer at age 74. He was the host of the longest show on public television, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

"Fred Rogers had stomach cancer, a disease that tends to kill people quickly. His death makes a difficult period in our nation's history more difficult for many people. He might have been the most reassuring public figure in America during the last half of his life."

"The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a great article about Mister Rogers today. He was originally from Latrobe and produced the show from Pittsburgh for 33 years. The article says, 'The list of awards presented to Mr. Rogers runs more than 25 single-spaced, typed pages and includes lifetime achievement awards from the Daytime Emmys and the Television Critics Association.' He's one of the few people associated with television that I think most Americans would agree deserved every award and accolade he got."

"I can't remember why, but, the other day I started singing the song It's Such a Good Feeling (to know you're alive...). That song comes to my mind from time to time, often in times of stress. I think it helps me put my troubles into better perspective."

"I hope that one day my children will watch Mister Rogers Neighborhood and think of Fred Rogers as their neighbor. May his soul rest in peace."

February 23, 2003

NJ Turnpike Closed Due to Fog?

Dave Aiello wrote, "The New Jersey Turnpike has been closed for its entire length, since 10:45am EST, reportedly due to severe lack of visibility as a result of fog. This is the first time I can ever remember the entire road being closed for this reason."

"This highway has speed control signs that allow the speed limit to be reduced when conditions warrant. So, if fog is a problem, I'd think that they would just keep reducing the speed limit until the danger was of travelling was not great. I understand that the posted speed on the Turnpike for vehicles already on the road is now 30 miles per hour."

"What triggered the closing? Was there some sort of huge chain reaction accident or something?"

February 21, 2003

Explosion Rocks Staten Island Oil Transfer Terminal

Scott Aiello reports that he was driving a large truck across the Goethals Bridge at the time when an explosion rocked an oil transfer station in Staten Island, a mile or two south of the bridge. He said that most of the traffic stopped on the bridge to look at the plume of smoke. This was on the left side of the bridge, from the perspective of New Jersey-bound traffic.

Scott reports that he subsequently drove his truck the rest of the way across the bridge, and kept driving back to work. Now, the smoke extends across the sky for miles and is visible from The Garden State Parkway in Roselle Park, NJ.

The explosion is reported to have taken place at about 10:10am, Eastern Time.

BTW Scott, Happy Birthday.

February 18, 2003

Critics Charge that Arbitron Study Is Biased in Favor of Radio Consolidation

Dave Aiello wrote, "Reuters reported Tuesday that consumer rights groups are criticizing a new study of consolidation in the radio industry, produced by Arbitron, a media and market research firm with radio expertise. According to Reuters, the study reported that 79 percent of the listeners surveyed 'said they get more or the same amount of programming choices from local radio than they did five years ago'".

"The article contains quotes from the spokesman for a consumer rights group, the Future of Music Coalition, an organization critical of consolidation that has already taken place in the industry":

It's clearly in their best interest to say that radio is great.

The federal government is in the process of evaluating changes and potentially allowing further consolidation, while the broadcast industry has an obvious agenda to defend these changes and push for more.

Dave Aiello continued, "You would have to be incredibly naive to think that a study that says that relies on current listeners to subjectively judge the diversity of radio programming was indicative of successful evolution of the radio industry. What about people like me, who gave up on listening to music radio several years ago? The only sector of radio that seems to be growing from my perspective is talk radio, and that growth is primarily limited to politically conservative shows."

"Music radio appears to be controlled by large corporations that dominate station ownership and either outdoor advertising or concert promotion in each local media market. There is a steady stream of media reports that indicate that radio airplay is determined by promotional payments, the equivalent of supermarket slotting fees. This was once referred to as payola and was the subject of a number of federal investigations, dating back to the 1960s."

Read on for more....

Continue reading "Critics Charge that Arbitron Study Is Biased in Favor of Radio Consolidation" »

Kellner, Foe of TiVo, Steps Down at Turner Broadcasting

The New York Times is reporting that Jamie Kellner is stepping down as Chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting, a unit of AOL Time Warner. Although Kellner is credited with a leading role in the founding of the Fox and WB television networks, he has been under increasing pressure in his current role, due to the continued underperformance of Turner properties like CNN.

Kellner had been mentioned on CTDATA back in May, when we reported that he told Cableworld Magazine that typical uses of a device like TiVo amount to theft of service because viewers use them to skip advertisements.

Anyone who feels that they have the right to dictate how people watch television programs delivered to their homes in such a comprehensive manner is ill-suited to a career as a broadcast executive in the United States. Perhaps he would do better in a country that does not have the traditions of individual liberty and intellectual property rights that exist here.

Dale Earnhardt Inc. Web Site Opens

Scott Aiello pointed out that the new Dale Earnhardt, Inc. web site,, launched a few days before last week's Daytona 500. The site includes insider news about DEI, drivers, and other racing team information.

This site will be the primary distributor for tickets to a Dale Earnhardt tribute concert scheduled for June 28 at Daytona International Speedway. The concert will include performances from Sheryl Crow, Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, and Kenny Chesney.

February 17, 2003

First Shoveling Experience of the Blizzard of 2003

Dave Aiello said, "I opened our garage, and saw that my entire driveway was covered with snow to the depth of 2 to 3 feet (91 cm). The apron of our driveway (where it meets the street) has snow that is probably 4 feet deep."

"I decided that I would alternate one hour of shoveling with one hour of rest for at least today's remaining daylight hours. I hope the conditions at your house are better than they are here."

Update 10:15pm EST: "After 4 1/2 hours of shoveling, I cleared 500-600 cubic feet of snow from the driveway at my home. That gives me the ability to back my SUV out into the street. I'll have to shovel some more tomorrow in order to be able to free my wife's car from the snow bank that is our driveway."

Delaware Has Traffic Cameras as Well

Scott Kuykendall points out that Delaware DOT also has highway traffic cameras. He says that he finds these cameras more useful than radio traffic reports.

Traffic Cameras on Route 1 in Central NJ Show Depth of the Snowfall Problem

Dave Aiello wrote, "For an idea of how much snow Central New Jersey has received in the last 24 hours, take a look at the NJDOT's traffic cameras on U.S. 1. Obviously, this will only look like a snow emergency for a few more hours."

"I didn't realize that these cameras were on-line until I saw Edward Felten of Princeton University mention them on his weblog, So I Googled Route 1 Traffic camera NJ, and found them."

"It looks like we've got fewer traffic cameras than the State of Washington does. But, it's a start for our area."

February 16, 2003

Worst Snow Storm in Seven Years Hits New Jersey

If you live between Washington, DC, and Boston, you already know that the Northeast is experiencing the biggest snow storm since 1996 today. Here in East Windsor, we are expecting 18 inches to two feet by tomorrow night.

For those of you outside the United States, two feet is about 60 cm. That's more snow than we got in the entire 2001-2002 winter season, AFAIK.

If you have nothing to do tomorrow, bring your shovel.

February 13, 2003

NASA Releases Text of Emails Discussing Shuttle Landing Failure Scenarios

NASA has released an email thread about the possibility of landing gear failures during the attempt to land the shuttle Columbia on February 1. At this point in the investigation, it is not clear whether landing gear failure contributed to the disintegration of the shuttle.

This information has been reported in articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Associated Press. All of these articles analyze the same emails and point out nearly the same features of them, namely that:

  1. Robert Daugherty said he was "erring way on the side of absolute worst case scenarios", and
  2. James Heflin said that in his email, Mr. Daugherty was "what-iffing, which is something we do a whole lot of".

The New York Times also published excerpts of the emails that NASA released. This is useful because hardcopy readers deserve the opportunity to read the main points of the emails in context, not just summaries of what the emails said.

The fact that NASA released these emails yesterday is interesting. One conclusion that can be drawn from it is that a major difference between this disaster and The Challenger is the volume of email communication that could be made public through official or unofficial releases. This both maintains pressure on NASA administrators and provides them with a way to reassure the public.

Of course, there will probably be hell to pay if any emails materialize that attempt to raise red flags without the kind of preambles that Daugherty put in his email.

February 7, 2003

Former Astronaut Imagined Shuttle Breakup Scenario in "Liftoff!, An Astronaut's Dream"

Dave Aiello wrote, "Many of you know that CTDATA sells used books as part of our experiments in e-commerce. Yesterday, we sold a copy of a book called
Lift Off!: An Astronaut's Dream
, a 96 page book for school children, and the customer asked us to ship it out in an expedited manner."

"As I was packing the book, I glanced through it, and realized that it discusses a situation where the shuttle Atlantis was damaged by debris that fell off the right-side rocket booster at launch. This occurred on flight STS-27, December 2-6, 1988."

"Chapter 8 of the book, written by retired astronaut R. Mike Mullane, discusses his effort to check the shuttle for tile damage. Mullane writes:"

"Atlantis? Houston. We were wondering if you saw anything break off the top of the right booster during ascent.... In a review of the ground films of your launch, engineers thought they saw something come off the tip of the booster."

"Atlantis, we want Mike to use the robot arm to look at the belly...."

I shiver with fear as I imagine what would happen to Atlantis if there is major damage. On reentry, fire would melt a hole in the belly and then start buringing through wires and equipment....

Meanwhile, the commander and the pilot would be doing everything possible to keep the shuttle flying straight. But, in the end, atmospheric friction would win the battle. The shuttle would start groaning and vibrating as pieces of the wings burned off... and the shuttle would slowly spin out of control. From the ground it would look like a giant shooting star, scattering flaming pieces of aluminum across the sky. I would be dead.... That's what I'm thinking as I carefully twist the robot arm underneath the fusilage.

Finally, the belly heat tiles come into view on the television screen. We gasp. Hundreds of tiles are scraped and gouged! At least one tile is completely missing. What's going to happen to us on reentry?

Dave Aiello continued, "Of course, Atlantis and its crew survived and successfully landed at Andrews Air Force Base. But, more than 700 tiles on the bottom of the shuttle had been damaged beyond repair."

"The breakup scenario that Mullane describes may be very close to what actually happened to shuttle Columbia. The biggest difference between Mullane's story and the Columbia disaster may be that Columbia did not carry a robot arm on its last mission."

"This is a wonderful book that tells a lot of shuttle flight details that I did not know. I'll have to get another copy and read it cover-to-cover."

February 5, 2003

NASA Says That Alternatives to Attempting a Columbia Landing Were Not Feasible

On Monday, The New York Times published an article that listed the alternatives that NASA engineers had discussed to allowing Columbia to proceed with a landing attempt and why none of these scenarios was feasilble. One of the most oft-cited alternatives was accelerating the launch of Atlantis, the Shuttle closest to readiness. However, the article says:

...Atlantis is still in its hangar, and to rush it to launching would have required NASA to circumvent most of its safety measures. "It takes about three weeks, at our best effort, to prepare the shuttle for launch once we're at the pad," Bruce Buckingham {a Kennedy Space Center spokesman} said, "and we're not even at the pad." Further, Columbia had enough oxygen, supplies and fuel (for its thrusters only) to remain in orbit for only five more days, said Patrick Ryan, a spokesman at the Johnson Space Center....

Slashdot Asks "Where Should Space Exploration Go From Here?"

A lot of Slashdot readers are big fans of space exploration. So, it should not be a surprise that a great deal of interesting feedback was posted to the article called Where Should Space Exploration Go From Here?. The original questions were:

I have done extensive reading since the Columbia tragedy about what's next for human space exploration. Most of the punditry agrees that extending the shuttle program for many more years is a bad idea. So what are the practical alternatives? I've seen ideas for new spacecraft, a carbon nanotube space elevator, among other things. What are the best ideas you've seen? Will the best idea win, or the one with the most pork barrel contracts? Does space travel/exploration have to be THIS expensive? What are the best short term/long term solutions?

Reports to NASA Indicated Detatched Foam from External Tank Often Damaged Shuttle Tiles

Roger Hedgecock filled in for Rush Limbaugh yesterday on The Rush Limbaugh radio program. At the beginning of the show, Hedgecock reported that a NASA Engineer named Greg Katnik had reported that foam from the external tank had struck the Columbia orbiter on the STS-87 mission in 1997. According to an article found on a NASA educational web site:

...the extent of damage at the conclusion of this mission was not "normal."

The pattern of hits did not follow aerodynamic expectations, and the number, size and severity of hits were abnormal. Three hundred and eight hits were counted during the inspection, one-hundred and thirty two (132) were greater than one inch. Some of the hits measured fifteen (15) inches long with depths measuring up to one and one-half (1 1/2) inches. Considering that the depth of the tile is two (2) inches, a 75% penetration depth had been reached. Over one hundred (100) tiles have been removed from the Columbia because they were irreparable. The inspection revealed the damage, now the "detective process" began.

During the STS-87 mission, there was a change made on the external tank. Because of NASA's goal to use environmentally friendly products, a new method of "foaming" the external tank had been used for this mission and the STS-86 mission. It is suspected that large amounts of foam separated from the external tank and impacted the orbiter. This caused significant damage to the protective tiles of the orbiter. Foam cause damage to a ceramic tile?! That seems unlikely, however when that foam is combined with a flight velocity between speeds of MACH two to MACH four, it becomes a projectile with incredible damage potential. The big question? At what phase of the flight did it happen and what changes need to be made to correct this for future missions?

Also yesterday, pointed to an article that appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle about the danger of the so-called zipper effect and its effect on the integrity of the orbiters' heat shields. The zipper effect is a chain reaction of silicate tile damage that spreads from the initial loss of or damage to as few as one tile. According to the article, "This kind of damage might have conspired with some other, as-yet-unknown problem, experts said, to create the aerodynamic disturbances and heat-related system failures NASA observed during Columbia's final seconds."

The Chronicle article referred to a 1994 study by Paul Fischbeck and M. Elisabeth Pate-Cornell of problems with the management of thermal protection systems at NASA. It also points out the existance of a new thermal protection system, developed for the now cancelled X-33 space plane that is "billed as cheaper and more durable than fragile ceramic tiles."

Much of this information is picked up by The New York Times and The Washington Post in articles published today.

February 3, 2003

"When Your Water Breaks, Call Your Lawyer"

The New York Times reports in its Tuesday edition that many doctors in New Jersey followed through on the threat to stop seeing patients for non-emergency care in protest of the state's unwillingness to address runaway malpractice insurance costs. One doctor is reported to have carried a sign saying "When Your Water Breaks, Call Your Lawyer" at a protest that took place at Christ Hospital in Jersey City.

In spite of the connotation the aforementioned placard, Dr. Robert Rigolosi, president of the Medical Society of New Jersey said, "We will continue to see emergency cases, we will continue to do deliveries of pregnant women...."

Another article in The New York Times talks about the increased patient load seen by Emergency Departments throughout the state: "A spokesman for {The New Jersey Hospital Association}, Ron Czajkowski, said that some hospitals reported seeing double or triple the usual number of patients, most of them children or the elderly."

Austrian Television Network Airs Documentary About NASA Outsourcing Quickly After Columbia Disaster

In an email exchange between Peter A. Frank and Dave Aiello, Peter Frank wrote:

I was wondering when you {Dave Aiello} might be posting something about Columbia? Just a few hours after the break-up during re-entry, the Austrian television network ORF was airing an amazing documentary that seemed so well prepared that one might have thought them to know that something was going to happen.

They mainly focused on the privatization of NASA's space program and its subsequent outsourcing to Boeing and Lockheed. I guess that many people must have noticed problems with the huge administrative effort that eventually killed the 7 crew members of Columbia.

I remember strongly arguing for a continuation of manned space flight after the Challenger disaster. I knew that riding an explosive bullet into space was risky, but I never thought about the ride home....

The ORF web site, mainly written in German, contains a lot of information about the Columbia disaster. If you can't read German, Google Language Tools do an excellent job of translating the articles.

Peter and his wife, Ramona Morel, live in the suburbs of Zurich, Switzerland. Peter graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and was a student in the United States at around the time of the Challenger disaster.

February 2, 2003

Things We Found Out About NASA and the Shuttle Program

Dave Aiello wrote, "Saturday morning, Kathleen and I were sitting in our office reading email on our computers when my Handspring Treo SMS tone sounded, and the following message appeared:"

2/1/03 9:59

NASA loses contact with space shuttle Columbia just before landing in Florida, 7 on board./REUTERS

"As I reached for the 'on' button on the radio across the room, I thought to myself, 'This is either another Apollo 13 or they're already dead.' Of course, the latter turned out to be right."

"I'm still trying to make up my mind about what this all means. But, I spent some time looking at the web and found a number of interesting articles about NASA and the Shuttle program. Read on if you're interested in what I've found...."

Continue reading "Things We Found Out About NASA and the Shuttle Program" »

January 30, 2003

Thousands of NJ Doctors Expected to Participate in Job Action on February 3

The New York Times reports that a job action being organized by the Medical Society of New Jersey to protest soaring malpractice insurance rates is expected to involve 5,000 to 10,000 of the 22,000 physicians practicing in the state. The job action will take place on Monday, February 3, 2003. According to the article, it will involve doctors who practice in offices cancelling their non-emergency appointments.

Ice Breakers on the Hudson

The Star-Ledger reported today that ice breaking tug boats are being employed to keep ferries moving across the Hudson River. This hasn't been necessary in years.

In spite of the use of ice breakers, the only dependable ferry services are running from Weehawken, Hoboken, and Jersey City. The longer ferry services, from the Highlands, Belford, and Bayshore, have not been able to operate for some time.

January 13, 2003

In Memory of Ed O'Donnell

Dave Aiello wrote, "Over on AAHArefs, I posted news that Ed O'Donnell died as a result of a heart attack he sustained while officiating a high school hockey game on Friday in Pennsauken, NJ. He was 45 years old and is survived by a wife and three school-aged children."

"This is the third death of a well known, respected ice hockey official in New Jersey in the past 12 months. Two of the deaths were of men in their mid-40s who were very physically active."

"The article that we posted on AAHArefs was the first, and so far only, article on the web that fully reports the tragedy that befell Ed. We are grateful that a couple of websites that cover New Jersey high school hockey have linked to it. It's important that players, coaches, and fans of the sport learn about this loss."

January 9, 2003

Custom Printed Stationery Arrives

Dave Aiello wrote, "I picked up the new CTDATA stationery that I ordered from Allegra Printing and Imaging in Lawrenceville. I explained the bid evaluation process that I used in an article I posted last week."

"We haven't had stationery with a correct address and telephone number since June. It's great to finally get it. Maybe we can use it to drum up more business."

December 30, 2002

Buying Custom Printed Stationery in Central New Jersey

Dave Aiello wrote, "I decided to bite the bullet today and get estimates for new CTDATA stationery from three commercial printers in the Trenton-Princeton area. My needs are simple:"

  • 500 letterhead, one color printing, on white bond paper
  • 500 second sheets, essentially blank bond paper matching the letterhead
  • 500 #10 envelopes, matching letterhead
  • 1,000 business cards

"I asked three printers for quotes. The printers are:"

"It was an interesting experience driving around and getting quotes. This is something I had never done before. Normally, I'd just walk into one printer, get a price, and give the go-ahead. I decided not to do that this time. Read on if you are interested in the outcome."

Continue reading "Buying Custom Printed Stationery in Central New Jersey" »

Doc Searls: Looking for a Fax Machine that Connects to a LAN

Doc Searls started talking about his search for a SOHO fax machine that can be put on an Ethernet network. This is interesting because he does not want or need a number of the multifunction bells and whistles that seem to come with every one of these devices now. The thread that develops from this will probably be worth following.

December 11, 2002

Latin American Immigrant Money Transfers Reach $13 Billion Per Year

The El Paso Times reports that money transfers from Latin Americans living in America to people in their home countries have reached $13 billion per year. This information is contained in a report called Billions in Motion: Latino Immigrants published by Pew Hispanic Center at USC and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Among the interesting statistics revealed in this article and the underlying report:

  • 47 percent of Hispanic immigrants send money regularly.
  • 45 percent of Mexican immigrants send money, compared with 57 percent from El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.
  • 60 percent are male; 59 percent are married; 59 percent have no high-school diploma; average age is 37.
  • 57 percent make less than $30,000 per year.

Among the demographics we would like to have seen reported:

  • percentage of remitters who are in the United States legally (either through legal immigration or amnesty).
  • percentage of remitters who have payroll taxes deducted from their wages, or who pay self employment taxes.
  • percentage of remitters who receive public assistance (in the form of Social Security, unemployment, AFDC, Medicare, Medicaid, or some other form of health-care subsidy).

Regardless of their immigration status, anyone transferring money to relatives or friends outside the United States should be paying taxes on any income earned while living here. If remitters are not paying taxes, then state and federal government agencies should not allow remittances to go through.

December 3, 2002

Philadelphia Inquirer "Discovers" Carbon Dioxide Risks in Indoor Ice Arenas

Today's Philadelphia Inquirer reports that several members of Millersville University's club ice hockey team were sickened by concentrated exhaust fumes from a malfunctioning Zamboni ice resurfacing machine at the Lehigh Valley Ice Arena. The incident occurred in September, when Millersville was playing Lafayette College.

The article gives the impression that everyone who participates in these sports is taking a significant, but previously unknown, risk:

.... Little known to the public, the potential danger of fume poisoning exists for hundreds of thousands of adults and children who play and watch hockey and figure skating in ice arenas all over the country....

Yet, there have been very few incidents in New Jersey or Eastern Pennsylvania over past 20 years that were in any way similar to the one that occurred at Lehigh Valley in September. We have to wonder if the Inquirer will write a similar article warning people who live in homes with attached garages.

November 27, 2002

The Desolate Wilderness and the Fair Land

This article was originally published on on November 23, 2000.

Dave Aiello wrote, "There is no doubt in my mind that of all American holidays, Thanksgiving is the greatest. I often wonder how a holiday like this has survived through the constant change that is our nation's history. Yet, all Americans, regardless of our beliefs, take the time to be with friends and family, and to thank God for the blessings that He has bestowed upon us."

"Each year, The Wall Street Journal publishes two articles on its Editorial page on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I want to thank them for making these articles available on their free Web Site, Reading them is one of my favorite moments of the season."

The Desolate Wilderness, taken from Nathaniel Morton's New England's Memorial:

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton,
keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they
knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to
Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits....

And the Fair Land written by Vermont Royster, 1949:

.... We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing
themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that
enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth....

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from everyone at CTDATA.

First Snow of the Season in Central New Jersey

The Associated Press reports that the first snowfall of the year has hit Central New Jersey as well as most of the Metropolitan New York area. Here in Mercer County, the grass was mostly covered by snow at 7:00am, but the streets and sidewalks were clear because of their tendency to retain heat.

It was nice to see snow this early in the season. In many years, snow does not fall in this area until mid to late December.

The forecast appears to have overstated the amount of snow that would accumulate. Whether that is because less precipitation fell, or the air temperature was higher than expected, it is a good development because so many people will be on the road today beginning their Thanksgiving travels.

October 15, 2002

McGreevey Proposes Merger of Rutgers, UMDNJ, NJIT

The Star-Ledger is reporting that Governor McGreevey announced his merger plan for the state's universities yesterday. We discussed the possibility of such a merger earlier this year on

So little is known about the proposal, that it's hard to know how anyone could take a position on it at this point. The timing of the announcement, however, is curious. It comes very quickly after Governor McGreevey got heavily involved in the Torricelli-Lautenberg candidacy "transition", and could take the state-wide media's focus off of that issue for a few days. If you are a supporter of the Democratic Party in the Garden State, you might consider this a shrewd move.

October 9, 2002

Slate Predicts End of TiVo, At Least as We Know It Today

Slashdot pointed out that Slate is running an article that says the demise of TiVo is inevitable, at least in its current form as a free standing digital video recording appliance connected to your TV.

The early comments on Slashdot point out that Slate is a Microsoft publication, and has not been above spreading Microsoft FUD in the past. These critics say that Microsoft would rather have you buy an Xbox with TiVo-like functionality than TiVo itself.

October 7, 2002

Article Points to Design Issues in Current Apple Titanium Powerbooks

Stephan Somogyi wrote an article for ZDNet AnchorDesk called Apple's iBook: Why it's not just for home, anymore. In it he makes a number of points about Apple's top-of-the-line laptop, the Apple PowerBook Titanium 800MHz G4 that have not been widely publicized. Among them:

  • "It still gets quite warm after prolonged use"
  • "{It is} a bit larger than desired, especially when you're trying to get work done in {an airplane}", and
  • "{It has} poor wireless connectivity" in spite of the fact that it has a built-in Airport {WiFi} network interface.

The revelation about poor wireless networking is particularly interesting, in light of Apple's leading role in development of wireless networking. The article takes the form of an appeal to Apple to make a business-oriented version of its smaller laptop, the iBook. But, in our view, it says more about reasons to consider holding off on buying Apple's flagship laptop until these issues are addressed.

September 27, 2002

Six New Teams of Architects Chosen to Submit WTC Redevelopment Plans

The BBC is one of the news agencies to report that The Port Authority has chosen six international teams of architects to submit plans for the redevelopment of Ground Zero. The agency held a new competition because the first set of plans it received were almost universally criticized as being either unimaginative or insufficiently respectful of the lost.

We think that the previous design contest was hampered by the requirement that the plans replace all of the 11 million square feet of office space as well as the retail space lost in the attack. But, we do not agree with some bereaved relatives that have suggested that the entire site should be given over to a memorial. Turning the entire 16 acre site into a memorial would send a terrible message to people who would consider future terrorist attacks on the United States.

September 26, 2002

Two Ways We Know Al Gore's Speech in San Francisco Was a Mistake

You have to hand it to Al Gore. He made a speech on Monday in San Francisco that managed to outrage both the American right wing and the left wing at the same time. You would expect columnists like Michael Kelly to find fault with Gore's speech:

Gore uttered his first big lie in the second paragraph of the speech when he informed the audience that his main concern was with "those who attacked us on Sept. 11, and who have thus far gotten away with it." ...The government of Gore's country has led a coalition of nations in war against al Qaeda, "those who attacked us on Sept. 11"; has destroyed al Qaeda's central organization and much of its physical assets; has destroyed the Taliban, ... has bombed the forces of al Qaeda from one end of Afghanistan to the other; has killed at least hundreds of terrorists and their allies....

But, the strong disapproval of Gore's speech by The New Republic is the uncharacteristic element indicating that Gore made a mistake, even from the perspective of his traditional supporters:

In the 1980s and 1990s, Al Gore consistently battled the irresponsibility and incoherence on foreign affairs that plagued the Democratic Party. And it was partly out of admiration for that difficult and principled work that this magazine twice endorsed him for president. Unfortunately, that Al Gore didn't show up at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Monday. Instead, the former vice president's speech almost perfectly encapsulated the evasions that have characterized the Democratic Party's response to President Bush's proposed war in Iraq. In typical Democratic style, Gore didn't say he opposed the war. In fact, he endorsed the goal of regime change--before presenting a series of qualifications that would likely make that goal impossible.

September 10, 2002

Who's That Guy in the Striped Shirt?

Dave Aiello wrote, "On Labor Day, I officiated three youth hockey games in a pre-season hockey tournament at ProSkate USA in Monmouth Junction, NJ. In a way, this is not surprising because I have been a USA Hockey official since I was in high school, and I am an administrator for the Atlantic District Officiating Program."

"The new development in my officiating career is that I am working a significant number of games early in the season. I can't remember the last time I officiated a game in the month of September. It might be as far back as 1995. I haven't had the time, between my work with the AAHA and my family commitments."

"Now that my wife is a medical resident, I have a large block of unstructured time every fourth day. I'm not saying that I'm glad that she is on-call every few nights, but the predictability of our schedules allows me to plan to officiate games, to act as an instructor at officiating seminars, or to evaluate less experienced officials."

"The nights that I am home by myself are not fun, but they are opportunities to do volunteer work and to develop new business prospects for CTDATA. Hopefully, I will spend this time wisely, and the organizations that I support will profit from my efforts."

September 6, 2002

You Know It's a Bad Day When....

Dave Aiello wrote, "Some of our readers might be wondering why hasn't had many updates this week. Wednesday was a pretty bad day in comparison to other days this summer. Early in the morning, we had one of our main servers go down and stay down for six hours. Thanks to Martin O'Donnell, our man in Seattle, who went out to the co-lo and cleaned things up."

"After that bit of excitement I tried to return to my routine daily tasks, only to find that my 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee wouldn't start. Fuel pump failure. $700 including labor and tax."

"At times when business has been better, the Jeep problem would have merely been a serious inconvenience. But these days, problems like this are a minor crisis. I'd figure that two unrelated events of this nature couldn't happen in the same day. I guess I was a loser to the Law of Averages."

August 29, 2002

Significant Rain Falls in New Jersey

Dave Aiello wrote, "This morning, we woke to the first significant rainfall in Central New Jersey in at least a month. I have written a bit about the drought that has beset the New York Metropolitan area recently. But, you know it really has to have gotten bad if the State of New Jersey decided to totally ban lawn watering."

"Radio reports on WABC indicate that over 2 inches of rain have fallen in Central Park, New York City, within the last 24 hours. The National Weather Service said that 1 inch of rain had fallen at Washington's Crossing (PA / NJ border on the Delaware River) by 9:30am."

August 25, 2002

Huge Insurance Increases Cause Cutbacks in Hospital Services

Martin O'Donnell pointed out that The New York Times reported that hospitals in certain parts of the United States are cutting back on the availability of services due to dramatic increases in malpractice insurance. Among the details that are included about the New York and Philadelphia areas (all essentially quotes from the article):

  • Mercy Hospital in West Philadelphia closed its maternity ward on Friday,
  • the biggest hospitals {in NYC} have kept their insurance prices down by creating their own nonprofit insurance companies,
  • the New Jersey Hospital Association says insurance costs in the state have nearly doubled in the last year,
  • the cost of malpractice insurance at {the Jefferson Health System}... doubled this year, to $32 million, and
  • Brandywine Hospital closed its trauma center and Paoli Hospital closed its paramedic unit {in June}.

Many people who live in this area still haven't realized the impact that malpractice insurance increases are having on the delivery of healthcare. And, they probably won't realize it until they need care that's more complicated than a checkup.

August 21, 2002

New Jersey Imposes Additional Water Use Restrictions

The Star-Ledger reports that the New Jersey DEP imposed new water use restrictions yesterday in response to "a drought that has reached historic proportions." New Jersey residents are now banned from watering their lawns and washing cars in the driveway. The Department of Environmental Protection claims that eight of the last 12 months have been the driest on record. By this, we assume that they mean that July was the dryest July on record, for instance.

The article also points out that these water use restrictions are useless if they are not enforced: "A key aspect of the restrictions, Campbell said, will be getting local officials and police to enforce them. Campbell sent a letter Friday urging municipalities to renew their enforcement efforts. Under the drought restrictions, first issued in March, violators can be imprisoned for up to six months and/or fined up to $1,000."

The State of New Jersey has also produced a web site It has some interesting information, including one stark picture of the Oak Ridge Reservoir, part of the Newark, NJ's water system.

August 9, 2002

SonicBlue CEO Ousted After Demanding Repayment of Corporate Loans Made to Directors

In a really interesting article, The San Jose Mercury News reports that SonicBlue CEO Kenneth Potashner was ousted yesterday after he demanded that members of the company's board of directors repay $500 thousand in loans that are due in 2003. According to the article:

Potashner said he began to scrutinize about $177,000 in loans that ... board members... received in June 2000 to purchase stock in RioPort, a digital music services company that is 32 percent owned by SonicBlue.

Potashner, who also received a $261,232 loan in December 1999 to purchase RioPort stock, said the board members voted last December to make their loans "non-recourse," an accounting term that meant the directors would not be personally liable if they failed to pay.... Potashner, in contrast, is personally liable for his loan.

There's probably a lot more to this story than has been written in this article, but, Potashner is certainly trying to appear to take the high road by invoking the rights of the shareholder.

Charlton Heston Announces That He May Have Alzheimer's Disease

The Associated Press reports that Charlton Heston has announced that he may have Alzheimer's Disease. According to the story, Heston recorded a video statement on August 7 where he said, "My dear friends, colleagues and fans, my physicians have recently told me I may have a neurological disorder whose symptoms are consistent with Alzheimer's disease." The video was played earlier today at a press conference in Beverley Hills, California.

Economic Collapse in Argentina Grinds On

Over the past few days, a number of stories have appeared that confirm that the economic decline in Argentina has not yet ended. WNET, the Public Broadcasting System affiliate in New York, ran an episode of its Wide Angle series last night called The Empty ATM. It's about the plight of middle class people in the urban parts of Argentina, and it brings home the fact that this South American country is experiencing an economic crisis that is reminiscent of the Great Depression. The show will be run on many PBS stations across the country in the next few days.

Another piece of information on Argentina appeared in The Washington Post on Tuesday. Despair in Once Proud Argentina talks more about life outside the area surrounding Buenos Aires. In many places like Rosario, there are huge shantytowns "boiling over with refugees from the financial collapse". The situation becomes worse in rural areas. According to the article, "In the province of Tucuman, an agricultural zone of 1.3 million people, health workers say cases of malnutrition have risen 20 percent to 30 percent over the previous year." (Credit for pointing out this story goes to Camworld.)

Continue reading "Economic Collapse in Argentina Grinds On" »

August 8, 2002

Cablevision Swooning Because of Subscriber Shinkage

This morning, there are reports of store closings, asset sales, and subscriber shinkage at Cablevision. The reports began with a warning that basic cable subscribership in the New York area fell by 1 to 1.5 percent. Regarding the subscriber loss:

The company did not specify a reason. But earlier this year, it said it lost subscribers in the first four months of the year as a result of a dispute over broadcasts of New York Yankees baseball games... Cablevision is the only New York area cable operator not carrying the YES Network on its systems. The company balked at the fee charged by YES for the broadcast rights.

The relentless advertisements by DirecTV and The YES Network that have taken Cablevision to task over not airing Yankee games must really be costing Cablevision money. Cablevision will also sell its Clearview Cinema chain and close about half of its The Wiz electronics stores.

Wired News Pounding Clear Channel's Radio Programming Practices

Over the past week, Wired News has run a series of articles about Clear Channel Communications and their attempt to monopolize FM radio broadcasting in many cities throughout the United States. In the article Clear Cutting the Radio Forest, reporter Randy Dotinga says, "After a blizzard of purchases, sales and mergers, Clear Channel owns or operates 1,165 radio stations in the United States. It controls about 80 more through other means that occasionally raise eyebrows."

Wired News followed up today with Good Mornin' (Your Town Here), an article about the "epidemic of digital fakery {that} has struck the radio industry". The article goes on to say "Only the listeners are live and local at many radio stations, and Clear Channel is gambling that nobody will notice. Or care."

The story also relates the fact that Clear Channel stations in Harrisonburg, VA did not switch to news for four hours after the terrorist attack on September 11. This was due to the fact that the employees who were present at the station did not know how to stop the automated programming.

This continuing series of articles is great because it exposes the biggest reasons that people are tuning away from FM and tuning in talk radio. Say what you want about programs like Rush Limbaugh and The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, but these programs are produced with creativity, and they don't try to fool their audiences into thinking they are local productions.

August 7, 2002

Hollywood Attempting to Prohibit Recording of Some TV Programs After 2006

WiredNews is reporting that the motion picture industry is negotiating for the right to block the recording of some televised programming once broadcasters begin delivering digital television signals to American homes in 2006. This would have the effect of making next-generation digital video recorders, like today's TiVo and ReplayTV, incapable of recording certain broadcast programming at the discretion of the broadcaster.

According to the article, SonicBlue's Chief Technology Officer said, "Ultimately, we think it would be damaging to the customers if they couldn't time-shift their shows." We agree.

Nielsen Now Collecting Data from Some TiVo Users

CNET reports that Nielsen Media Research and TiVo have developed software to collect usage information that may be used to assess the impact of digital video recorders (DVRs) on commercial television in the United States. According to the article:

For now, Nielsen is excluding data from households with DVRs from its industry reports, but it is trying to piece together a sample that will reveal "the impact of TiVo...upon established viewing patterns."

With the proliferation of DVR devices and the impending rollout of true video-on-demand by major cable systems, Nielsen must develop ways to measure consumer use of these services, otherwise the value of their market research will be reduced. The work they have done with TiVo over the past two years is just the beginning of the attempt to adapt to the explosion of digital technology.

August 5, 2002

Thousands Turn Out to See Lance Armstrong Race in New York

Dave Aiello wrote, "The Associated Press estimates that 100,000 people turned out to watch Lance Armstrong race in Lower Manhattan yesterday in the New York City Cycling Championships. Kathleen and I attended the race, and it was certainly an impressive turnout."

"Ivan Dominguez of Team Saturn won the race. He was part of a seven man break-away that got away in the first 30 km of the race. The members of the break really worked hard, because they lead the race for almost 50 miles on one of the hottest and stillest days in Lower Manhattan this summer."

"The most interesting aspect of the race was the diverse group of spectators. There were clearly thousands of knowledgeable road cyclists and pro cycling fans. These are the core constituency of OLN. There were also thousands who turned out because of radio and TV promotions of the race. Most of those people recognized the U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team jerseys, but had difficulty figuring out which rider Lance Armstrong was, if he wasn't standing still."

August 2, 2002

Senator Torricelli Apologizes for Being Caught Taking Gifts

Today's Newark Star-Legder reports that Senator Robert Torricelli's re-election campaign began a $1 million ad campaign yesterday where the Senator apologized for accepting gifts from a contributor. According to the article:

The {bi-partisan Senate Ethics Committee} found he had accepted a big-screen TV, a stereo, earrings and two bronze statues from Bergen County businessman David Chang, who wanted the senator's help lobbying Korean government officials. Chang is in prison for illegal campaign contributions.

U.S. Senate rules ban gifts worth more than $50.

According to the campaign manager for Douglas Forrester, Senator Torricelli's opponent in the November election, "Mr. Torricelli will now unleash his propaganda machine to try to convince New Jersey voters he really didn't mean it when he said, 'I have never, ever, done anything at any time to betray the trust of the people of New Jersey. Never.'"

August 1, 2002

Bugs Bunny Tops TV Guide List of All-time Favorite Cartoon Characters

On Tuesday, CNN reported that Bugs Bunny is the most popular cartoon character of all time according to a recently-released TV Guide poll. According to the article, "Bugs is... the only character from the pre-television animated-short golden age to make the magazine's top 10." The character first appeared in "Porky's Hare Hunt," a cartoon that was released in theaters in 1938.

July 24, 2002

John Rigas and Two of His Sons Indicted on Federal Fraud Charges

Dave Aiello wrote, "Reuters is reporting that John Rigas, two of his sons, and two business associates were arrested after being indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on securities fraud charges in connection with the bankruptcy of Adelphia Communications. Separately, The Security and Exchange Commission also filed a civil suit against the company, the five former Adelphia executives, and a fourth member of the Rigas family."

"John Rigas, a pioneer in the cable industry and a dedicated supporter of the communities in which he lives, violated a cardinal rule of business by running the company he founded like a fiefdom. None of the good that Rigas has done in his life justifies the way he has conducted himself. He may not be guilty of everything that the Government alleges, but he has obviously lived beyond his means for a long time, and this has resulted in the destruction of other people's assets."

July 19, 2002

Drudge Report: Limbaugh Crushing O'Reilly in Head-to-Head Competition

The Drudge Report says Rush Limbaugh remains dominant in markets where his program is opposite Bill O'Reilly's radio program, The Radio Factor. According to the article, in Chicago "Limbaugh on WLS hit a 6.8 share... O'Reilly on WAIT pulled a {0.3}...." In Los Angeles after six weeks of head-to-head competition, "Limbaugh pulled a 4.5 share... on KFI to O'Reilly's KABC 1.8...."

O'Reilly doesn't go up against Limbaugh in New York, but he has reportedly lost 0.2 rating points compared to the previous occupant of the time slot, Bob Grant, who continues on WOR at a new time.

July 17, 2002

NJ Residents Apparently Fear of Nuclear Accident Less Than NY Neighbors

The New York Times reports in today's edition that New Jersey residents seem to fear nuclear accident less than people in neighboring states like New York and Connecticut. The article points out that New Jersey has four nuclear reactors: one in Forked River, south of Toms River, and three in Lower Alloways Creek Township, southeast of Wilmington, DE.

How many New Jersey residents even know where Lower Alloways Creek Township is? It's hard to find on Mapquest-- you have to look for a place name within it, like Hancock's Bridge.

While we are not saying that New Jerseyans should fear a nuclear accident in this state, it's probably a good idea to take this opportunity to educate ourselves as to the location of these power plants in case an accident ever did take place.

July 16, 2002

Fast Company on the Trials and Tribulations of TiVo

In the August issue of Fast Company, Scott Kirsner wrote an article called Can TiVo Go Prime Time? It's another in the endless series of articles asking if TiVo can ever really become a profitable free-standing business by making money solely on royalties from manufacturer's of TiVo-enabled personal video recorders and from TiVo service fees.

There's a lot of good information in this article, including the fact that there are currently about 425,000 TiVo subscribers, and the CEO sees the business generating "significant free cash flow" when it hits 1 million subscribers.

July 13, 2002

Dave Winer Remembers a Conversation with Gene Kan

Over on Scripting News, Dave Winer remembers a discussion he had with Gene Kan on this date in the Year 2000. Gene Kan was one of the leading figures in the Gnutella community who was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound earlier this week in Belmont, CA, near San Francisco. Winer said:

People have all kinds of theories about why {Kan} shot himself, I don't think it had anything to do with disappointment. Lots of people go through that, no one gets through life without lots of disappointment.... Depression is a disorder. Sometimes when the chemicals in your bloodstream are wrong they make you feel worthless. When that happens it can be hard to stay in the game, remembering that such feelings often pass, pretty quickly. At age 25, lots of people don't know that. It's a tough time of life....

July 12, 2002

New Jersey to Tax E-ZPass Users $12 Per Year

The New York Times reports that Governor McGreevey has decided to put a $1 per month surcharge on E-ZPass accounts that are managed by the New Jersey E-ZPass Consortium. This is a bizarre situation because many New Jersey residents who are E-ZPass users are registered with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New York State Thruway Authority, or another agency from a bordering state. E-ZPass customers registered with agencies other than the New Jersey E-ZPass Consortium will not be subject to the $1 per month fee, even if they are New Jersey residents.

The New York Times article says, "The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority charges an initial $27 for the plastic transponder, or tag, from its members...." We wonder what would be wrong with a similar initial fee for new E-ZPass customers in New Jersey? If the point of this new fee is to eliminate the reported $469 million debt, why not assess each new user once and be done with it?

June 22, 2002

Amtrak Shutdown Would Cause Havoc for NJ Transit, SEPTA

For the last week or so, there have been news stories warning that Amtrak is in danger of running out of operating funds. Today, The Washington Post reports what may happen if Amtrak is forced to begin "an orderly shutdown".

An Amtrak shutdown, threatened for the middle of next week, would ripple far beyond intercity passenger train service to halt or severely curtail rail commuter service along the East Coast and California, officials said yesterday.

....In addition to the {Washington D.C.} area {commuter railroad} shutdowns, Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority would be largely shut down, as would New Jersey Transit....

"The operational chaos that will result from this is incalculable at this point. It's a disaster," New Jersey Transportation Commissioner James P. Fox told the Associated Press.

An orderly shutdown of Amtrak could begin as early as Wednesday or Thursday of the coming week, unless Congress appropriates money or the Federal Government extends loan guarantees of as much as $200 million dollars.

June 10, 2002

Congratulations, Dr. Aiello

Dave Aiello wrote: "On Friday, June 7, Kathleen Kuykendall Aiello received her Doctorate in Medicine from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. As I said at a dinner in her honor that night, congratulations to the hardest working and most honest person I know."

May 24, 2002

USA Today Chronicles Armstrong's Role as Ambassador to Cancer Community

Earlier this week USA Today published a long piece about Lance Armstrong and his inspirational role within the cancer survivor community. The article was undoubtedly published to coincide with Armstrong's appointment by President Bush to a special panel on cancer, but it spends more time discussing his role in the community.

Armstrong spends time at nearly every public appearance, including bike races, visiting with cancer victims and survivors. Some of the people whose lives have been touched by cancer treat the opportunity to see or speak with Armstrong as a sort of pilgrimage that might help them overcome the disease.

In the book It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, Lance Armstrong and his co-author Sally Jenkins refer to Armstrong's sense of responsibility to the cancer community, but the book doesn't really relate the magnitude of Armstrong's ongoing commitment in the way this article does. It's possible that the importance of Armstrong to the international cancer community has increased with each Tour de France victory. Certainly, his Lance Armstrong Foundation and the annual Ride for the Roses charity event have garnered increased support in the past few years.

Nevertheless, this USA Today article has a tremendous impact on the reader because cancer survivors other than Armstrong are interviewed about their impressions of Armstrong's importance to people living with cancer.

May 23, 2002

Digital Photography Redefines Some Family Photo Albums

In the Circuits section of The New York Times, Katie Hafner describes how digital cameras has changed the way many Americans take photos and show them to friends and family. The article estimates that 9 million digital cameras will be sold this year (versus 15 million non-disposable film cameras). The widespread use of digital cameras has changed the way photos are handled: "Those crossing over to digital are beginning to use cameras in ways they would not have considered with film. One of the biggest changes is the end result: just 12 percent of digital photos are ever printed...."

However, many people are steadfastly holding to the traditional way of using and managing photographs:

Lisa Brinton, a project manager for the city of Watsonville, Calif., bought a digital camera while preparing for the birth of her first child, Sierra, nearly six months ago.... Yet the desire for the tactile experience has driven Ms. Brinton to order three hardcover albums — one for her and one each for her mother and sister.... This is a common rift that digital photography engenders: the desire for photographs printed on glossy paper versus those stuck on a hard drive, available for viewing only in front of a screen.

Personal Video Recorders Have "Crossed a Popularity Threshold" in America

In a front page article, The New York Times reports that personal video recorders have "crossed a popularity threshold" in American households calling into question the economics of commercial television. At issue is the ability to use the fast forward feature on devices from TiVo and SonicBlue to skip over most of the advertising content that underwrites the broadcast. This means that PVR users can watch a one hour recorded program in about 40 minutes.

Another issue that causes broadcasters and advertisers angst is time-shifting, where PVR users regularly watch shows that are supposed to be viewed on a specific evening at some more convenient time. This has technically been possible for decades, since the introduction of the Video Casette Recorder (VCR). But the PVR, a hard disk drive-based recorder with a computer generated user interface, makes high quality broadcast video recording absolutely effortless.

Dismissed until recently as too expensive and complex for the average consumer to set up, {PVRs} are now a fixture in more than a million United States households — about 1 percent of the total — a number expected to grow to 50 million over the next five years, according to Forrester Research....

"We've trained people that you can buy things at 3 in the morning in the nude on the Internet and make a call to anyone from anywhere on a cellphone, and the idea that CBS is going to determine when I watch 'CSI' flies in the face of that trend," said Josh Bernoff, an analyst with Forrester Research. "TV networks are going to have to figure out how to make money from a TV viewer that is not nailed to the chair waiting for the commercial to end."


May 15, 2002

EPIC Asks Federal Court to Protect PVR Users' Privacy

The Washington Post reported that an electronic civil liberties group has asked a federal court to deny media companies' requests to analyze the activity of SonicBlue ReplayTV 4000 Personal Video Recorders (PVRs). Several media companies had previously pursuaded a magistrate judge in the Central District of California to order SonicBlue to install software on all active ReplayTV 4000s in order to surreptitiously collect statistics to help the media companies demonstrate that the owners of the units were violating U.S. copyright law.

The article says, "...studios and broadcasters claim in a now-consolidated case that ReplayTV 4000's ability to detect and skip past commercials threatens their revenues. In addition, they say the device's broadband connections could be used for unauthorized distribution of television programs and movies...." As a result the magistrate judge ordered SonicBlue to begin collecting "...all available information about what works are copied, stored, viewed with commercial omitted, or distributed to third parties (and) when each of those events took place" within 60 days and to share that information with the media companies as part of the legal discovery process.

As far as we know, this is an unprecedented order in the American legal system, both in the bredth of information sought and in the surreptitiousness methods permitted by the judge. It would be easy to conclude that the judge's order treats the mere use of a ReplayTV 4000 as an indication of likely illegal activity. In our opinion EPIC is right to join SonicBlue in demanding that the original judge's order be vacated.

May 14, 2002

Media Insiders Doubt Bill O'Reilly's Staying Power in Radio

WorldNetDaily published an op-ed piece by Geoff Metcalf which suggests that Bill O'Reilly is not succeeding in his quest to extend the "No Spin Zone" to radio. Much of the point Metcalf made in the article was based on O'Reilly's behavior in an interview on Don Imus' radio show. During the interview, O'Reilly said that "there is no other cure than to kill Matt Drudge". He said this in response to Imus' question about the disclosure by Drudge that Westwood One is paying a New York radio station $300,000 to broadcast O'Reilly's program on a tape-delayed basis.

The most interesting part of this column, however, is the explanation of the radio business as a vehicle delivering audiences to advertisements. This is a fairly insightful analysis, in our opinion.

May 13, 2002

Sears Announces $1.9 Billion Take Over of Lands End

Julie Aiello pointed out that Sears will buy Lands' End for $1.9 billion or $62 per share. This is an interesting development because it instantly redefines the competition between Sears and companies like Target and Wal-Mart.

May 12, 2002

Families of Illegal Aliens to Sue over Deaths in Arizona Desert

Yesterday's Washington Times reported that the families of eleven illegal aliens who died in the Arizona desert in May 2001 plan to sue the U.S. government over their deaths. According to the preliminary complaint, the government should have placed 60 gallon water coolers strategically in the 860,000 acre Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

It's situations like this that cause us to wonder if our elected representatives in Washington will ever attempt to enact tort reform.

May 7, 2002

Medical Students, Residents Sue over Residency System

Martin O'Donnell told us about this article in today's New York Times that discusses a class action suit filed on behalf of medical students and young doctors challenging the legality of the residency system. At issue are the match process, the means of assigning 80 percent of all entry-level jobs for medical doctors in the United States, and the salary and benefits packages offered through the match process.

The article does a good job of illustrating the arguments on both sides of the case, for example: "Critics compare the residency matching program to early decision programs at colleges. They say that colleges accepting applicants through early decision can offer less attractive financial aid packages because there is no competition for those students, just as hospitals can pay residents low wages because they have nowhere else to go."

May 2, 2002

Chairman of Turner Broadcasting Calls Typical TiVo Use "Theft"

Cableworld is carrying an interview with Turner Broadcasting Chairman and CEO Jamie Kellner. This is an interview about the state of the cable business and AOL Time-Warner's cable networks business. But, midway through the interview, Kellner calls typical use of a device like a TiVo theft. Kellner is quoted as saying:

I'm a big believer we have to make television more convenient or we will drive the penetration of PVRs {Personal Video Recorders, such as TiVo} and things like that, which I'm not sure is good for the cable industry or the broadcast industry or the networks... {Interviewer: Why not?} ...Because of the ad skips.... It's theft. Your contract with the network when you get the show is you're going to watch the spots. Otherwise you couldn't get the show on an ad-supported basis. Any time you skip a commercial or watch the button you're actually stealing the programming.

The interviewer then asks, well, what if you have to go to the bathroom or you want to get up and get a Coke from the kitchen? Exactly. The extremists in the broadcast industry probably think that typical use of the channel changer on the TV remote control is theft, too.

This interview is a must read, if only to help understand how extreme some broadcast executive's sense of ownership of his television signal is. Kellner obviously doesn't believe in anything close to the Fair Use provisions that the Supreme Court defined in the Betamax case, which defined viewers' right to use a VCR.

April 26, 2002

Ramstein Blonde Wheat Beer Favorably Mentioned in T&L Golf

Dave Aiello wrote, "I just received a complimentary copy of the May/June issue of T&L Golf a publication of American Express Publishing Company. This issue's '19th Hole' column is entitled 'Drink York Wheaties' and reviews imported and domestic wheat beers."

"The article praises Ramstein Blonde, a product of High Point Wheat Beer Company in Butler, NJ. This is a brewery operated by my cousin, Greg Zaccardi, who enjoyed brewing beer so much that he went to work in Germany, then came back and started his own brewery."

"I was happy to find that Circle Liquors in Pennington, NJ stocks Ramstein, and I buy it there regularly. If you live or work in the New York Metropolitan Area and you enjoy drinking different kinds of beer, you ought to give one of the Ramstein beers a try."

April 24, 2002

President Bush to Screen "The Rookie" at White House

Reuters reports that the recent Disney theatrical release called "The Rookie" will be screened at the White House tonight. President Bush has reportedly invited several people involved in the production to attend, including Dennis Quaid who played the role of Jim Morris in the film, and Michael Eisner, Chairman of The Walt Disney Company.

A number of people who work for CTDATA recently saw this movie at a theater in the Cherry Hill, NJ area. Everyone felt that it was a superb production, suitable for all ages. It's proof that the entertainment industry can produce "G-rated" films adults will find enjoyable.

If you haven't seen this true story of the improbable rise of a Texas high school science teacher and baseball coach to relief pitcher with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of Major League Baseball, you are really missing something special.

April 23, 2002

Howard Kurtz Reports on the Weblog Phenomenon

Dave Aiello wrote, "My sister, Julie, pointed out Howard Kurtz's article on column that appeared in Monday's Washington Post called Who Cares What You Think? Blog, and Find Out. My first reaction upon reading the article is summarized in my reply to my sister:"

Thanks for pointing this out. It's a pretty good article, but Kurtz is sort of late to the party with this, and isn't adding that much {to} the Blogging as a Phenomenon story line. --Dave

"But then, I started reading the comments made by other webloggers about Kurtz's column that I found on the MIT Media Lab Web Site called Blogdex. These comments made me think that I might have been too dismissive of the piece. I subsequently reread it and came to the conculsion that it is worth our readers' time after all."

"Kurtz has a number of good quotes from lesser known webloggers-- people who don't get that much media attention. These seemed like nuances to me at first, while the mentions he makes of Andrew Sullivan and Virginia Postrel made more of an impact and caused me to reject it. I think a second reading helped me to put all of his examples in their proper perspective."

"Finally, in one of my circumspect moments, I realized that the act of reconsidering Kurtz's piece goes to the very heart of what makes weblogs interesting. So, I submit this story for your consideration."

Morristown Green to Get a Century 21 Department Store as Anchor

Sunday's Star-Ledger contained an article that was worthy of note: a Century 21 Department Store will be opened on the Morristown Green on April 30. It will occupy the old Macy's / Bamberger's store which had been vacant since 1993. The article quotes a prominent retail consultant as follows:

Century 21 (stores) are a destination location.... They are so exciting and so compelling that they draw people from 20 miles away. People will go a long way to get to Century 21 because there is no store like it. Other stores will feed off the foot traffic, and they are going to bring a lot of foot traffic to town.

Many of our readers have visited the most famous Century 21 Department Store location-- across the street from Ground Zero at 22 Cortlandt Street in Lower Manhattan. However, you may not be aware of the fact that there are also Century 21 stores in Brooklyn and in Westbury, NY.

April 22, 2002

AT&T to Close Cambridge Research Center

John Naughton reported in Sunday's Guardian that AT&T is planning to shutdown its laboratory in Cambridge, England rather than sell it to Intel, who was ready to buy it. According to the article, "Although nobody in AT&T will talk openly about it, the word on the street is that negotiations foundered because the lawyers on both sides couldn't agree about intellectual property issues."

The article goes on to point out the achievements that AT&T Laboratories Cambridge made in its relatively short life. The author considers the Broadband Phone the lab's greatest achievement. But, the most widely used product of the lab by far is VNC (Virtual Network Computing), a remote display system that works with UNIX and Windows.

Bills Get Bledsoe for First Round Draft Choice in 2003

The Buffalo News reports that the Buffalo Bills traded a first round draft choice in 2003 to the New England Patriots for Drew Bledsoe.

According to reporter Mark Gaughan, "The deal represents the Bills' biggest trade in at least 15 years, since they acquired linebacker Cornelius Bennett in 1987." Gaughan goes on to say that the Bills "...added nine new veterans in free agency. Then they got one of the most prized college players in the nation Saturday when they drafted 375-pound University of Texas offensive tackle Mike Williams. Now they have a proven quarterback."

April 18, 2002

Kmart Implements Self Service Checkout, In Spite of Bankruptcy

Dave Aiello wrote, "Kathleen and I went to the soon-to-be-closed Kmart at the Mercer Mall in West Windsor, NJ, earlier today to see if we could find any bargains. We found several good deals amid the piles of unsold merchandise. (Anyone need a Martha Stewart Laundry Trolley? They have dozens in West Windsor.)"

"The most interesting part of the trip, however, was our encounter with a self-service cash register. We were the only people in the store using one, despite there were at least four other stations available to the other bargain shoppers standing in line at the time."

"I was intrigued by the automated system, which seems like a hybrid of a regular cashier's station, an ATM, and a train station ticket machine. A quick Google search revealed that Kmart has implemented this NCR system in over 1,000 stores throughout the United States. Isn't it amazing that Kmart spent all of the money necessary to deploy this state-of-the-art technology to so many dying stores, prior to their bankruptcy announcement?"

Supreme Court Justice White: a Legend on the Field and the Bench

Earlier this week, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White passed away at age 84. He was a unique figure in American history, having reached the pinnacle of achievement in the law and professional athletics.

In the past few days, several articles reflecting on Justice White's place in American history have been written. Former NFL kicker and Kennedy School of Government graduate Nick Lowerey said White "had a remarkable balance of brains and athleticism". Steve Wilstein of the Associated Press interviewed Alan Page, a former defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings who is now a Minnesota Supreme Court judge. Page and White met each other when White presided over Page's induction to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

April 17, 2002

CTDATA Office Air Conditioner Replaced

Earlier today, the central air conditioner at CTDATA's office in Lawrenceville, NJ, was replaced. It had been found to be defective yesterday. It's hard to identify these problems and plan ahead when the year's first wave of hot weather brings temperatures in excess of 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

April 16, 2002

Heat in the Northeast Breaking 25 Year Old Records reported that many cities in the Northeastern U.S. will break record high temperatures, dating from 1976 as a result of the heat wave that settled in over this area in the past few days. By 10:51am, the temperature at Newark Airport broke the all-time high for this date, and the temperature is likely to top out between 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. (That's about 32 degrees Celsius for our readers outside the United States.)

April 11, 2002

Tim O'Reilly Identifies Emerging IT Technologies

Tim O'Reilly wrote an article called "Inventing the Future" where he identifies emerging Internet and computing technologies. His article focuses on the following trends: 802.11b networks, next generation search engines, weblogs, instant messaging, file sharing, grid computing, and web spidering.

It's interesting to note that O'Reilly still lists file sharing as one of the emerging technologies-- particularly since the RIAA and other representatives of publishing companies have repeatedly tried to use the legal system to quash public file sharing networks.

The web spidering trend describes the construction of customized web clients (i.e. robots) to traverse web sites and gather data which is assembled and displayed differently from the original presentation. Good examples are search engines like Google, software survey sites like Netcraft, and price comparison sites like O'Reilly suggests that many of these spiders could be eliminated if major database-driven web sites built SOAP or XML-RPC interfaces and published APIs to them. But, we would argue that this is unlikely because there is no revenue model for many such interfaces, and unless one emerges, it's hard to imagine large sites willing giving up the ability to display ads directly to the site visitor.

April 8, 2002

Slashdot Runs Dave Aiello's Review of Handspring Treo 180

Earlier today Slashdot published a review of the Handspring Treo 180 written by Dave Aiello. This is the second review written by Dave that Slashdot has published. The first was a review of the book "Running Weblogs with Slash".

Shatel Breaks New Jersey HS Baseball Victory Record

The Daily Record reported on Sunday that Harry Shatel won his 642nd game in 34 seasons as a high school varsity baseball coach to break the all time career record for the State of New Jersey. Shatel is the head coach of Morristown High School. He began coaching the Colonials in 1969. Congratulations, Harry.

How the Introduction of DVD Changed Home Entertainment

Sunday's Los Angeles Times ran a good article that described the impact of DVD on home entertainment. Much of the article focuses on second-generation movie enhancements including interactivity, alternate scenes, and out-takes that allow viewers to substantially change the movie-watching experience: a result of the DVD's booming popularity since its introduction in 1997, the audience's relationship to movies has changed. The home video was merely a small-screen version of a movie. The DVD is interactive--so much so that to the studios' alarm, technically sophisticated film buffs with a little determination and access to the Internet can relate to a movie in ways that were impossible only a few years ago, including moving and removing scenes and characters from a movie.

Media Hopes Financial Problems in New Jersey Spur Change

The New York Times is reporting that the financial difficulties experienced by the State of New Jersey are causing the Legislature to re-evaluate the way taxes are assessed and collected. The article suggests that this may mean a reduction or redistribution of property taxes, and consolidation of local government services.

Although changes like these are sought by many New Jerseyans across the political spectrum, we don't see the necessary political courage in Trenton at the moment. Both parties are notorious for maintaining the status quo. As we suggested in an article last November, New Jersey's best hope for meaningful government reform would be for continued political stalemate resulting in a substantial change in the composition of the Legislature in the next election. Another possible solution would be the election of a third party governor who would force the Legislature out of its tendency to vote along party lines at every opportunity.

April 5, 2002

In Memory of Regina B. Lynch

Regina B. Lynch died on March 22, 2002 in Williamsville, NY. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2002, at 10:00am at:

Gate of Heaven Catholic Cemetery

225 Ridgedale Avenue

East Hanover, NJ 07936

Please note the time change for the memorial service. The service will take place at graveside, in Section 31 of the cemetary. Arrive 15 to 30 minutes early in order to locate the grave.

Location of Gate of Heaven on (driving directions available).

Brunch will follow for family and friends at the Hanover Marriott, 1401 Route 10 East, Whippany, NJ 07981. See a member of the family at the memorial service for more details.

Additional information: [ Obituary | Death Notice | Eulogy by Dave Aiello ]

Continue reading "In Memory of Regina B. Lynch" »

April 4, 2002

NYC Apartments Featured in Prime-Time TV Often Beyond Means of Characters

CBS Marketwatch published an analysis of the estimated cost of the apartments that some television characters inhabit in shows such as Friends and Sex in the City. According to the article: "Monica and Chandler come the closest to reality, living in her grandmother's rent-controlled, two-bedroom walk-up. But struggling actor Joey is way out his element in his two-bedroom Greenwich Village unit across the hall, where real-life rent payments would be about $4,000 a month."

April 1, 2002

In Memory of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother

The BBC reported that Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother passed away over the weekend. The Queen Mother earned a reputation for personal courage and rallied the British people by staying in London through the bombings during World War II. She had an unbroken record of service to her country that spanned nearly 80 years, and arguably held the British royal family together through recent difficulties.

Newsweek Features Bill Clinton on Cover

Newsweek has pre-empted its coverage of the War on Terrorism, Enron, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and global warming, so that Bill Clinton can appear on its cover. Does anyone think that it is a co-incidence that this article was published just in time for April Fool's Day? Hmmm....

March 25, 2002

Eulogy for Regina Baird Lynch

This is the eulogy for Regina Baird Lynch who died in Williamsville, NY, on March 22, 2002, at age 86. It was delivered by Dave Aiello on March 25 at St Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church, Williamsville, NY.

Continue reading "Eulogy for Regina Baird Lynch" »

March 22, 2002

We Had a Nice Celebration Until We Learned....

Dave Aiello wrote, "I'm sure that the last 24 hours have been the most emotionally draining period since September 11 for me and my wife, Kathleen. On Thursday morning, we learned that Kathleen had matched for residency at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital's pediatrics program in New Brunswick, NJ. This was her first choice for a number of reasons, including strength of its program, quality facilities, and proximity to our friends and family. It is considered an achievement to win a job at the program of your first choice-- it means they wanted you as much as you wanted to be there."

"We had a nice celebration with her friends from Jefferson Medical College and our families. But, bad news began to reach us when we arrived home from dinner and connected to the Internet."

Continue reading "We Had a Nice Celebration Until We Learned...." »

March 20, 2002

NY Post Reporter Fired, Possibly for Reporting on Lawsuit Against Disney

This week's Village Voice reports on the firing of NY Post entertainment reporter Nikki Finke. She was shown the door shortly after writing an article about the 1991 breach-of-contract suit against Disney by Stephen Slesinger Inc.. The suit alleged that Disney did not pay the correct amount of royalties to Slesinger, the company that holds the copyrights on Winnie the Pooh and related characters. The Village Voice article says, in part, "The news hook was the January 18 disclosure of court documents revealing that a judge fined Disney $90,000 last year for destroying documents that might or might not have been relevant to the case. The disclosure resulted in a spate of bad publicity in the days following."

The article asks whether the journalist was fired for factual errors in her stories, as the Post and Disney both allege, or because News Corporation, owner of the Post, caved into pressure Disney, an important business partner? Our question is, was the disclosure of the mere existence of the Winnie the Pooh case so damaging to Disney's public image that it would feel the need to pressure a major U.S. newspaper to fire a reporter?

FWIW, we started following this situation because some of our readers are intrigued by Disney's business and were not aware of the fact that they did not own some of their major characters outright. This was why we originally posted a story about the NY Post articles that started this controversy.

March 15, 2002

Entertainment and IT Leaders Appear at Senate Hearing on Protection of Creative Works

Yesterday, the United States Senate held a hearing entitled Competition, Innovation, and Public Policy in the Digital Age: Is the Marketplace Working to Protect Digital Creative Works?. Some of the statements made by the witnesses, such as Joe Kraus' statement are quite interesting, and worth reading. Joe Kraus was the founder of Excite and, recently, founder of Among other things, Kraus said:

This past Christmas I bought my dad a DVD player. Within two weeks I got a phone call. "It’s broken" he insisted. When I asked why, he said that he put a DVD in and as he had become accustomed to doing with his video tapes, when the movie previews came up, he went to skip through them. But now, the DVD player wouldn’t let him. I told him that his DVD player wasn’t broken but that existing law made it illegal to create a DVD player that would skip through content that the media companies flagged as "must watch". Needless to say he didn’t know what I was talking about.

Read on for more information about the hearing, and our view of the government's role in the protection of creative works....

Continue reading "Entertainment and IT Leaders Appear at Senate Hearing on Protection of Creative Works" »

Organization Formed to Promote Consumer Technology Bill of Rights

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal Personal Technology Column, Walter Mossberg pointed out the formation of, a consumer rights organization that advocates a six-point Consumer Technology Bill of Rights. According to Mossberg, "This bill of rights wouldn't condone theft of media content or bar the industry from protecting itself. It would merely mean that in doing so, industries couldn't trample on the rights of honest consumers who buy content legally."

The rights that Digital are promoting are meant to ensure that doctrines like Fair Use are not eviscerated by the Federal legislation promoted by lobbying efforts of the entertainment industries.

Walter Mossberg deserves credit for writing this column. It takes some courage for someone who works for a member of the "media establishment" to speak strongly on behalf of consumer rights at this moment in history. His position on the balance between consumer and author/publisher rights is reasonable.

March 14, 2002

Arthur Andersen Indicted for Obstructing Justice in Enron Case

The Associated Press reports that the accounting firm Arthur Andersen was indicted for allegedly obstructing justice in the Enron bankruptcy case. The report says:

For a one-month span in October and early November, "Andersen ... did knowingly, intentionally and corruptly persuade" employees to "alter, destroy, mutilate and conceal" documents, the indictment said.

The article further states that a representative of Andersen said that the charges "were tantamount to a 'death penalty' against the firm, and it accused the Justice Department of 'a gross abuse of governmental power.'"

March 13, 2002

Drudge Report a Major Player in Oscar Debate Over "A Beautiful Mind"

The Toronto Star reports that The Drudge Report is now considered a major player in a debate about the completeness of the screen play of "A Beautiful Mind". At issue is whether the movie left out key incidents in the life of mathematician John Nash, and whether the movie would have been as well received if the incidents had been included. The debate is coming to a head at precisely the time when members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are submitting their ballots for The Academy Awards. "A Beautiful Mind" has been nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Actor and Director.

March 12, 2002

Drought Forces New Jersey to Impose Water Use Restrictions

Today's Star-Legder says that New Jersey issued "mandatory" water use restrictions to cope with a severe drought that has been developing across the state for the past several months. However, the article goes on to say that "The regulations are rife with exemptions, most notably for residents of Central Jersey and the northern coastal regions, where the drought conditions are less severe."

Loopholes in water use restrictions will make it more difficult to get people to comply with them. Either New Jersey should have regional water restrictions, or statewide restrictions that apply to all residential water users equally.

McGreevey Seeks to Unite UMDNJ Campuses, Possible Unification with Rutgers

Last week, The Star-Ledger reported that Governor James McGreevey has named a commission to examine the programs of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and to "turn an uneven network of disparate medical and health science schools in New Jersey into a top-ranked institution". This article provides an good summary of the history of UMDNJ and an overview of the institution's programs.

It is fairly clear from this article and from other articles that have appeared recently that some officials believe that the future of UMDNJ involves a merger with Rutgers University. At the present time, the universities are fairly separate, although they both have major facilities and programs in New Brunswick.

March 4, 2002

Grammys Underscore What's Wrong with the Entertainment Industry

Newsweek published an article (via MSNBC) called Looking Grim at the Grammys. It's a great summary of what happened at last week's Grammy Awards, and why so many of the events have such ominous implications for the recording industry.

In case you haven't heard-- sales of recorded music are down, and the industry wants you to believe that the reason is that everyone with an MP3 player is a thief. Newsweek, however, has shown that it recognizes that this is not the entire explanation for the decline in sales. A bigger reason is the fact that so much so-called popular music is formulaic and un-popular.

TiVo to Raise Service Prices by 30 Percent

On Friday, Reuters reported that TiVo plans to raise its monthly subscription fee by 30 percent. This is the fee that TiVo charges to provide an on-line programming schedule for each TiVo unit. Without this directory, the functionality of the TiVo device would be substantially reduced.

Even at a cost of $12.95 per month, we consider the TiVo service a valuable addition to a consumer's technology arsenal. TiVo is the first device that allows a consumer to maximize the value of their cable and satellite television subscriptions.

February 28, 2002

Winston Cup Points Key to Understanding NASCAR Championship Competition

scott pointed out an article on 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 This document presumes a bit less racing knowledge than the other.

February 27, 2002

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.

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

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.

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."

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 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 20, 2002

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.

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."

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 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.

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.

February 4, 2002

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, has a number of good slideshows showing local celebrations.

February 2, 2002

Governor McGreevey Breaks Leg Walking on Cape May Beach 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.

January 29, 2002

Disney Could Lose Substantial Royalty Revenue Due to Winnie the Pooh Dispute

The New York Post reports that heirs of New York agent Stephen Slesinger are suing The Walt Disney Company, asking to terminate the companies right to use Winnie the Pooh and related characters in its sales and marketing activities. If the law suit were totally successful, some analysts estimate that Disney could lose up to 25 percent of its annual licensing revenues. The article reads, in part, "The attorneys quoted a sales and consumer data tracking company's figures showing that in licensed toy sales, Pooh characters have outsold Mickey, Minnie and friends $316 million to $114 million through November 1999."

Bill Barnes, The Most Dedicated Substitute Teacher in Bucks County

Julie Aiello pointed out this Bucks County Courier Times article about her friend, Bill Barnes. Bill has a reputation in Central New Jersey and Bucks County, PA for achieving his goals with relentless effort. According to the article:

Bill Barnes was born 14 weeks premature, weighing 3 pounds, 8 ounces. The lack of oxygen during the delivery damaged sensitive brain tissues controlling muscle movement and motor areas causing cerebral palsy....At an early age, his parents told Bill that he'd have to work a little harder than some people to do certain things. Some things he'd have to do differently....

{Five} years ago, Bill enrolled at the College of New Jersey to pursue a master's degree in elementary education. He attended college part-time, while working full-time at Dow Jones {on} the graveyard shift. He took a third job in the summer as director of {a camp for handicapped children}....This year is his second as a day-to-day substitute teacher....He is on lists in three school districts, Bristol Township, Council Rock, but mostly he works in Neshaminy, where he lives.

It's with great pleasure that we point out this article about his effort to earn a full-time teaching position in a Bucks County public school. We support him, and look forward to the day when he is hired for the job to which he aspires.

January 28, 2002

Ex-Enron CEO's Wife: We are Broke

Dara Khani pointed out a Reuters story that quotes the wife of Enron ex-CEO Kenneth Lay as saying that her family is broke in the wake of the Enron collapse. Linda Lay also claimed that her husband did "absolutely nothing wrong" while presiding over the company which is the subject of what is considered to be the largest bankruptcy case in history.

The article reads, in part: "Asked what had happened to the reported $300 million in compensation and stocks her husband earned over the past four years, Linda Lay said the couple relied on now-worthless Enron stock and did not have a diverse portfolio."

This article quotes extensively from an interview that Mrs. Lay gave to NBC's Today Show over the weekend. Obviously, she wasn't asked any truly probing questions, other than the inevitable "How does it make you feel...?"

NJ Transit Regularly Not Collecting Fares on Rail Lines

The Star-Ledger reports that New Jersey Transit Rail Operations are failing to collect fares from passengers, resulting in an increased revenue shortfall that is contributing to fare increases. Rail tickets are already fairly expensive in New Jersey, and some regular passengers are shifting from monthly tickets in order to take advantage of lax collection.

Admittedly, this problem has been exacerbated by overcrowding during peak periods as a result of the disruption of PATH service from Newark Penn Station to Lower Manhattan. But, NJT really must staff its trains with sufficient conductors to collect fares due from passengers. Otherwise, revenues will fall as daily commuters attempt to beat the system.

January 24, 2002

Graduating College Seniors and Unemployed Jamming Graduate Schools

The New York Times reports that graduating college seniors and unemployed people are applying to graduate schools in record numbers. This trend may extend the unemployment/underemployment problem beyond the point where the U.S. economy turns around. According to the article:

Students at the University of Pennsylvania here give a simple explanation for the sudden enthusiasm for graduate education: the difficulty of finding jobs. Dave Feygenson, a senior, would have liked to work on Wall Street first and attend graduate school later if he could find a job. But after searching for a job in vain, he has applied to Ph.D. programs in finance at the nation's top schools.... "Why fight the economy?" he said. "Why not get it done now, since I cannot find a job anyway."

Why not go to grad school now? Ever hear of the law of diminishing returns? If you are thinking about going to grad school now, make sure the education you are getting makes you a better job candidate. Don't kid yourself into thinking that further study of your greatest academic interest is inheirently a better investment than pounding the pavement. Business and law schools aren't always good investments either.

You'd be surprised how much you can learn on your own when you really need to find a job.

NY Times Magazine Tries to Explain Parental Behavior Problem in Youth Ice Hockey

Dave Aiello wrote, "Jason Silver pointed out an article which appeared in last weekend's New York Times Magazine which attempts to explain the parental behavior problems which are currently plaguing youth ice hockey. This is an important article, because it provides some accurate statistics about the sport, which is probably the fastest growing organized amateur sport in the United States today."

"CTDATA is an active supporter of youth hockey. We have operated the Atlantic District Officiating Program Web Site since 1995. I, personally, have officiated ice hockey at the youth, high school, and college levels for over 20 years. It is on that basis that I state that Charles McGrath, the author of the New York Times Magazine story, has only told part of the story about spectator behavior problems in the sport."

Read on for some examples of what he left out....

Continue reading "NY Times Magazine Tries to Explain Parental Behavior Problem in Youth Ice Hockey" »

January 23, 2002

Scientists Reportedly Discover "Ultimate" Stem Cell in Adults

Slashdot pointed out an article in New Scientist that reports that scientists believe they have discovered an "ultimate" stem cell in adult that can turn into any cell in the body. According to the article:

Until now, only stem cells from early embryos were thought to have such properties.... If so, there would be no need to resort to therapeutic cloning - cloning people to get matching stem cells from the resulting embryos. Nor would you have to genetically engineer embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to create a "one cell fits all" line that does not trigger immune rejection.

This would be the answer to the prayers of many Americans who have profound reservations about the notion of creating embryos for the purpose of dismembering them for components. We can only hope that these initial research results are confirmed.

January 22, 2002

Web Informant Examines Digital Home Hubs from Apple, Sony, Microsoft

David Strom writing in his Web Informant newsletter evaluates digital home hubs from Apple and Sony, and also mentions the technologies announced by Microsoft at the Consumer Electronics Show a few weeks ago. Strom questions the notion that consumers would accept anything other than a TV-like device as the hub of digital entertainment in their homes:

The reason is simple: most of us already have a digital hub for our homes, and it is called a TV. Well that isn't being totally fair: we have home theater installations that involve TV, DVD, VCR, game console, cable box, receivers, speakers, and CD players. But the TV is the component that has more status and more face time than the others in most homes, let's face it. There isn't enough room in the living room, or home theater surround system, for a PC to poke its ugly head into this mix. And any successful innovation for a digital hub has to start with the TV, not the PC.

An announcement that Microsoft made earlier today about reorganization of its television-related units may indicate that it agrees with the notion that a digital entertainment hub must either be a television itself or a component that is commonly used in conjunction with a TV (like an Xbox?).

We would not be surprised if any of these three companies develop products that look like a combination between TiVo and Xbox in the foreseeable future. It is the inevitable outcome of TiVo's success in captivating early adopters with its personal video recording appliance.

January 18, 2002

Limbaugh Reportedly Regains 80 Percent of Hearing in One Ear

The Drudge Report says that Rush Limbaugh has regained 80 percent of his hearing in one of his ears. This is the result of the successful activation of a cochlear implant that he received in December.

According to the article, Rush's brother David Limbaugh said, "We talked on cell phones, it was just great!"

January 17, 2002

Television Industry Trying to Unify Itself on Anti-Copying Technology reports that TV networks, film studios, and consumer electronics firms are attempting to create a single standard for copy protecting broadcast television. Among other things, the article says:

The latest effort, a plan to insert digital tags into broadcast TV shows that would prevent them from being put online, is just part of that broader aim. But as more TV content shows up at digital swap meets, copyright owners see it as an increasingly urgent issue. They say they'll have a standard ready by the end of the first quarter of the year.

The big question is, how will appliances like TiVo will respond to these digital tags if they are implemented. It is possible for TiVo to do an on-line software upgrade to implement watermarking according to industry wishes. However, up to now, devices like TiVo have depended upon techniques like limiting the number of output interfaces built into them to hinder distribution of high quality copies.

January 16, 2002

Bill O'Reilly Radio Program May Debut in March

In the New York Post, John Mainelli reports that Bill O'Reilly's radio talk show will debut in March and the affiliates are likely to include WOR, a 50,000 watt AM station in New York City.

The main point of Mainelli's column, however, is that WOR intends to run O'Reilly's program on tape against Sean Hannity's radio program, rather than live when he would be opposite Rush Limbaugh. The article says, "{WOR} would air O'Reilly on tape to 3 p.m.-- when {FoxNews}
colleague Hannity is on WABC (770 AM) - and start talk
legend Bob Grant's show two hours later, trimming the
length of Grant's show from three hours to two."

January 11, 2002

Ford to Close Edison Truck Plant

The Associated Press reports that Ford is closing the Edison, NJ Truck Assembly Plant in addition to five other plants in North America, throwing about 22,000 people out of work. An additional 13,000 Ford employees from outside the United States and Canada will also lose their jobs.

A similar New York Times article quotes Charles J. Brady from Credit Lyonnais Securities as saying, "They've really announced that they're going to do everything an ongoing business should do everyday: control costs, make quality products.... The inherent admission is, `we fell asleep'."

This will be a tough blow for the New Jersey economy, coming so quickly after September 11. In the Newark Star-Ledger article, Governor-elect James McGreevey said, "We've asked them to stop any permanent decision in an effort to set forth to Ford the potential array of financial incentives which could be available. The state could offer low-interest rate financing guarantees and other financial incentives to help retool the plant to build another product."

McGreevey's also said, "For 10 years, we have largely neglected manufacturing in this state," adding the pattern must be reversed. Ford sold 58,000 fewer trucks made in Edison last year than the year before, in spite of incentives like zero percent financing. What could the State of New Jersey have done to change that?

January 9, 2002

U.S. Government Changes Goal of Motor Vehicle Research Program

The New York Times reports that the U.S. Government is abandoning its $1.5 billion gasoline-powered vehicle efficiency project. Instead, the government will operate a program to encourage the development of motor vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Efforts to increase fuel economy have failed primarily because consumers and businesses want large, flexible vehicles. Most of the fuel economy efforts have been focused on incremental changes to vehicles that end up making them smaller and lighter. If American auto manufacturers were able to produce SUVs that ran on hydrogen, were about the same price, and required as little maintenance as gasoline-powered vehicles, consumers would buy them.

January 8, 2002

In Memory of Dave Thomas

Dave Aiello wrote, "While listening to Imus in the Morning, I learned that Dave Thomas passed away last night. He was the founder of Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers, one of the largest fast food franchisees in the world. The company he founded also came to own Tim Horton's, the Canadian donut franchisee with significant operations in the Buffalo area. Dave Thomas will also be remembered for tirelessly supporting the cause of adoption."

"This is a sad moment for many of us who were around in the early days of CTDATA. If you ask people like Martin O'Donnell, Brett Tofel and Ed Anuff, they will tell you that a lot of CTDATA and Vision Software history took place at Wendy's. During 1988, 1989, and 1990, we haunted the Wendy's on Route 9 in Latham, NY."

January 7, 2002

Northern New Jersey Gets its First Measurable Snow Fall of Winter

In New Jersey, a measurable amount of snow has fallen over the past 18 hours in the area north of Trenton. At least two inches of snow has been observed in Hunterdon and Morris counties. Apparently, more snow has accumulated in Northwestern New Jersey than anyplace else.

Snow has continued to fall this morning in the area around Morristown. But, the temperature has been slightly above freezing, limiting further accumulation.

January 4, 2002

Feds Drop Effort to Prosecute Senator Toricelli

The Star-Legder reports that federal prosecutors have dropped their investigation into the finances of Senator Robert Toricelli, a democrat from New Jersey. Key to the decision to drop the investigation was the behavior of David Chang, a prominent contributor to Toricelli. According to the article, "...Chang presented prosecutors with growing credibility problems. Before he agreed to cooperate with the government, the prosecutors themselves had disparaged Chang as a man who 'simply cannot be trusted on his word.'"

This development lifts some of the clouds over Senator Toricelli's reelection bid this coming November.

January 2, 2002

Lithium-Ion Batteries for Laptops Have Finite Lifespans

Dave Aiello wrote, "Over the past two months, I have found that the lithium-ion battery on my Dell Inspiron 7500 laptop has deteriorated in terms of its ability to keep the laptop running without being connected to an external power source. The laptop is approaching two years old, but I did not use it regularly for the first six months I owned it."

"Having owned portable devices with less sophisticated battery technology, I began searching the Dell Support Web Site for information about how to deep-cycle or recalibrate my lithium-ion battery. I found a program that supposedly provides this capability, but it only works if you are running a Microsoft Operating System. It was only after I began searching for Linux-specific help with lithium-ion batteries that I found information about the expected life of lithium-ion batteries. Read on for more details."

Continue reading "Lithium-Ion Batteries for Laptops Have Finite Lifespans" »

December 28, 2001

Yankees Move Radio Broadcasts to WCBS AM

The Associated Press reports that The New York Yankees have agreed to a deal with Infinity Broadcasting for radio broadcast of all Yankee games in the New York City market. Broadcasts will be heard on WCBS AM 880, an all-news radio station. This marks the end of a 21 year relationship between WABC and the New York Yankees.

This is a deal with huge implications in the New York media market. WABC had made its Yankees broadcast the centerpiece of its line up from March to October. It is possible Infinity's ability to carry both English and Spanish broadcasts on major radio stations played a significant role in the final agreement. It is also likely that the previously announced agreement between the Yankees and CBS for local TV broadcast of Yankee games also played a role. CBS and Infinity Broadcasting are both owned by Viacom.

Call for Metadata to Be Embedded in Radio Programs

After a holiday trip to Michigan, Cameron Barrett of Camworld suggests that the radio industry develop and implement a metadata standard for descriptions of programming. He focuses on music, but as much information could be provided about information-oriented radio programming, like financial advice and political talk shows.

Because some of us are very active listeners to radio, CTDATA has some interest in the subject. Read on for an explanation of what we know about the subject, and where we think technological progress is most likely.

Continue reading "Call for Metadata to Be Embedded in Radio Programs" »

December 27, 2001

If You Average November and December, Buffalo's Weather is Normal

The Associated Press reports on another huge lake-effect snow storm in Western New York. This is the second such storm to occur this week. Among other things, the article points out: "It's been a drastic change for a community that enjoyed its first November on record without snow, and recorded only 11/2 inches before Christmas Eve."

Perhaps it's an irreverent thought, but this may be one of the best recent examples of The Law of Averages.

Recording Industry Problems: Mostly About the Product

Yesterday's Los Angeles Times reported that the recording industry is losing large amounts of money because new releases from previously popular artists are failing to sell in expected volumes. The article does mention Internet piracy as one of the drags on industry profits, but it also lists four other major issues: lackluster album sales, eroding profit margins, skyrocketing marketing expenses, and executive salaries.

In our view, the problems that the recording industry is experiencing are quite similar to the ones that are affecting the movie industry: mediocre product. Neither unrelenting hype, nor piracy protestations from Jack Valenti or Hilary Rosen can prop up these important American industries if the new product pipeline is filled with bilge.

Many of these problems would be fixed if the established artists and industry executives were paid solely on the basis of their performance. The record companies must also rationalize their organizations and find a new distribution model that embraces the Internet and does not insult customers by treating all of them as if they are thieves.

December 26, 2001

In Memory of Monteria Ivey

Julie Aiello pointed out that The New York Times has reported that Monteria Ivey died two weeks ago at age 41. Ivey and his comedic partner, Stephan Dweck, appeared regularly on the Imus in the Morning radio program, to which many readers listen regularly.

Monteria Ivey was a graduate of Dartmouth College, and was obviously an intelligent observer of the contemporary social scene. However, he will be most remembered for a type of joke made at a friend's expense that he called a "snap". One example from his obituary:

When he was growing up, his family was so poor they used to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken to lick other people's fingers.

It is difficult to know where he and Dweck's humor ended and their depiction of life on the streets of New York City began. Nearly anyone who has spent time there has heard this sort of comment from one black person to another on the street or the Subway. Ivey and Dweck raised it to an art form.

December 21, 2001

Rush Limbaugh Has Successful Cochlear Implant Surgery

Rush Limbaugh and The House Ear Clinic have announced that Rush Limbaugh has undergone successful cochlear implant surgery in Los Angeles. This was the next step in the treatment regime for Auto-Immune Inner Ear Disease (AIED), an ailment that began to affect him several months ago. An FAQ about the surgery and its expected outcome was also posted at

December 20, 2001

Argentina Spirals into Further Chaos as President Resigns

The BBC reports that Fernando de la Rua has resigned as President of Argentina. This is the latest development in a nationwide series of riots over the deepening financial crisis gripping the country. de la Rua was forced to flee the presidential palace in a helicopter after tendering his resignation.

The BBC has done an excellent job assembling background information on the entire crisis. This Q&A on Argentina's Economic Crisis is a particularly good overview for those readers who are unfamiliar with the situation.

Argentine President Declares State of Siege

The Washington Post reports that Argentine President de la Rua declared a state of siege in order to put down riots in cities across the country resulting from a downward economic spiral that has lasted for more than three years. Argentina has been struggling to make payments on over $132 billion dollars in public debt, the by-product of years of runaway government spending.

Argentina had been the leading economy in South America because the rest of its economy has been run in a very sound and responsible manner. Because of the paradox of unchecked government spending and a hard currency economic policy, 18 percent of its able-bodied workers are jobless and 40 percent of its population is now at or below the poverty line.

The situation in Argentina is nothing short of a disaster. Much more attention would be paid to this issue, if the terrorist attacks on the United States had not taken place and war had not subsequently broken out.

December 19, 2001

Who are the Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal and What Do They Want?

George Kuykendall pointed out this National Review article Red Stars Over Philly, subtitled "The Mumiacs and their cause". This is an article that was written about the antics of Mumia Abu-Jamal's supporters during the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. Describing the press conference that occurred at the Old First Reform Church, on July 24, 2000, the article said:

Their message was clear: The state is a murderer, George Bush is a murderer, America's claim to be a democracy is a sham. "Stop State Killing," said the big banner behind the speakers. Posters showed a police-style picture of Bush, with the words, "Wanted for Murder." Jamal's image was everywhere, as Che Guevara's used to be, so long ago....

Abu-Jamal's fate should be decided on the basis of fact and law, not insinuation or rhetoric. His supporters never address the merits of his case, only the inheirent biases of the judiciary and the institutions that imprison him.

Wegmans to Open Stores in Key South Jersey Towns

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Wegmans Food Markets will open two supermarkets in southern New Jersey, and one in Chester County, PA, within the next year. Wegmans is a Western New York-based supermarket chain which has expanded into Northeastern Pennsylvania and Central New Jersey over the past few years and has redefined the concept of food retailing in these areas.

Prior to the arrival of Wegmans, supermarkets in the area were generally smaller and carried less selection than supermarkets in other demographically similar parts of the country, such as the San Francisco Bay area. Now, supermarket chains wanting to compete in the lucrative Princeton, Bridgewater, and Manalapan, NJ markets must build big stores and add services including restaurants, catering, and on-site child care. This is also going to become the case in the communities where Wegmans plans to build in the near future.

December 18, 2001

Mumia Abu-Jamal's Death Sentence Overturned

The Associated Press reports that the death sentence imposed on Mumia Abu-Jamal has been overturned by U.S. District Judge William Yohn. The judge denied all of his other appeal claims, including a request for a new trial. According to the article, "The judge said jurors should have been able to consider mitigating circumstances during sentencing even if they did not unanimously agree that those circumstances existed."

The judge ordered the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to conduct a new sentencing hearing for Abu-Jamal within 180 days or to sentence him to life imprisonment. We fully expect him to be sentenced to death again, after the judge revises his sentencing instructions.

December 17, 2001

Dave Winer Launches Scripting News Awards

Over on Scripting News, Dave Winer decided to start a series of awards for weblogs called The Scripting News Awards. This type of thing is important, if only to give people who are not running a weblog at the moment a sense that this is a large movement within the web publishing community.

There are, however, a couple of fairly obvious issues with the process defined by Dave, and the subsequent nominations for the awards. Read on for more...

Continue reading "Dave Winer Launches Scripting News Awards" »

December 13, 2001

Webloggers Were Not Impressed with Nunberg Essay on "Fresh Air"

Dave Aiello wrote, "Earlier this week, I pointed out an essay about Weblogs by Geoffrey Nunberg that appeared on 'Fresh Air'. I thought it was interesting. Many other more prominent members of the Weblog community, including Doc Searls and Dave Winer found it condescending at best."

"I guess that I must not look at weblogging with as much of an anti-establishment view as they do. It's safe to say that some weblog writers see their writing as a struggle to establish a news channel outside the sphere of influence of the big media companies. Of course we are doing that, but not everyone who writes for a weblog does so because they feel that their voice is not being heard due to some sort of conspiracy."

"I found Nunberg's essay interesting because he is talking about weblogs to people who don't know about weblogs. Who cares what the subtle undertones of his message are? If I missed them, a lot of other listeners probably did too."

December 11, 2001

Technologies on the Horizon: Segway and Satellite Radio

A couple of technologies that have large potential audiences, but uncertain immediate-term futures debuted recently. The hype surrounding Segway reached epic proportions before it was finally demonstrated on Good Morning America. Dave Winer of Scripting News was invited to a preview of the personal transportation device and described the experience of actually using one for 10 minutes.

Over on the Saltire weblog, Steve McLaughlin has done some investigative research on satellite radio broadcast services operated by XM and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Read on for more information....

Continue reading "Technologies on the Horizon: Segway and Satellite Radio" »

December 1, 2001

Bancroft Adds Value to Haddonfield

Mary Kuykendall wrote a letter to the editor of What's on in Haddonfield calling on the Borough of Haddonfield, NJ to resolve its differences with Bancroft Neurohealth the parent organization of The Bancroft School.

Bancroft is an excellent organization that provides neurological rehabilitative services, education for children with special needs, and residential care. They are very important to the communities of Camden County and South Jersey as a whole. They also are a large employer which can be relied upon in these troubled economic times.

We support Bancroft and appreciate the services that they provide to the community. We agree with Mary that a compromise should be struck quickly between Haddonfield and Bancroft, regardless of the issues in dispute.

November 21, 2001

Verizon Adding Three New Overlay Area Codes in New Jersey on December 1

Verizon has announced that three new area codes will be added for Northern and Central New Jersey beginning December 1. These area codes will be overlays, meaning that a second area code will be added in each of the existing 201, 973, and 732 areas.

When changes like these are implemented, phone companies also implement 10 digit dialing. So, beginning December 1, callers in the current 973, 201, and 732 areas will have to dial both the area code and the local number to place each call. This is definitely going to confuse people when it first takes place, especially since callers in the 609 and 856 areas will not be required to use 10 digit dialing.

We are posting this to our Web Site as a matter of record and a service to our customers. CTDATA's main telephone number will remain 609-844-1200, which is our new telephone number that became effective on July 1, 2001.

November 20, 2001

Buffalo Bills Retire Jim Kelly's Number 12

Ernie Aiello pointed out that the Buffalo Bills retired the Jim Kelly's number 12 during a ceremony honoring him for his achievements in nine seasons as Buffalo's starting quarterback. This is the first number that the Buffalo Bills have retired in their 41 year history.

November 19, 2001

Forbes: Harry Potter Box Office Records Not What They Seem

Forbes Magazine says that the box office numbers posted by the new Harry Potter movie should be taken with a grain of salt. Why? It opened on a massive 8,200 screens, most likely much higher than the previous record holder The Lost World (Jurassic Park 2). Also, average ticket prices are 17 percent higher than in 1997, when The Lost World debuted.

According to the article, "This is how massive conglomerates like AOL Time Warner, Vivendi Universal, Sony, and News Corp. release movies. Tons of screens at the opening, set a 'record,' advertise their success--the 'number one movie in America!'--and hope that everyone interested sees it before word-of-mouth spreads. Most of the record-setters and certainly seven of the top ten were forgotten within weeks of their initial release."

November 14, 2001

Howard Stern Criticizes Imus Ranch: "Biggest Scam-Foolery I've Ever Seen"

In an article in today's New York Post, former WABC Program Director John Mainelli reports that media personality Howard Stern criticized fellow Infinity Broadcasting personality Don Imus for the "stunning" appointments of the ranch that he built to host children with cancer and serious blood disorders, as well as children who have lost loved ones to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the World Trade Center Disaster.

CTDATA donates a small amount of money each year to the C.J. Foundation for SIDS and The Imus Ranch through the WFAN Radiothon for Tomorrow's Children. We think Stern's criticisms are sour grapes. Don Imus, his family, and his co-workers have worked tirelessly for the benefit of the charities they support. Stern should be so generous with his time and resources.

November 12, 2001

Airbus A300 Crashes on Takeoff from JFK

All news agencies are reporting that American Airlines Flight 587 crashed on takeoff from JFK Airport in New York. It was a scheduled flight to Santo Domingo. The plane was an Airbus A300, a wide-body jet, with about 250 people aboard. Radio and TV reports indicate that this may have been a mechanical problem with one of the engines. Another report has indicated that the FBI believes that an explosion may have taken place on board the plane.

November 7, 2001

Ugh! McGreevey Governor-Elect in NJ

The Associated Press reports that Jim McGreevey won the gubernatorial election in New Jersey by a decisive margin over Brett Schundler.

This is not so much a McGreevey victory as it is a defeat for the establishment in the New Jersey State Republican Party. After years of debacles like the proposed Newark Arena and the financing of EZPass, who can blame middle-of-the-road voters in New Jersey for voting for McGreevey or staying home? Combine this with the fact that many diehards in the State Republican Party never got over the fact that Schundler defeated their candidate, Bob Franks, and you have the recipe for disaster.

For our money, Schundler was the only reasonable choice. But, he would not have been able to break through the status quo in Trenton. We will surely experience frustration with New Jersey's State Government over the next four years, but we hope that frustration will contribute to a more complete purge of the governing class in future elections.

November 6, 2001

Fox Provided Emmy Updates to World Series Viewers

TVinsite notes that Fox provided in-game updates on the Emmy Awards to viewers of Game 7 of the World Series and that irked unnamed executives at CBS. So what? Many of us have muttered at the TV during sports events, knowing that some other important news event is taking place, but the in-game update feature keeps rotating scores of other sports events. The fact that the winner of awards such as "Best Comedy Series" was flashed across the screen during the game made perfect sense at the time.

As the TVinsite article says, if CBS is upset that Fox did this, they should have waited until the next Sunday to stay away from Game 7.

October 17, 2001

Conservative Israeli Cabinet Member Assassinated

The New York Times reports that Rehavam Ze'evi was assassinated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine at the Hyatt Regency Jerusalem. Ze'evi was the Minister of Tourism, and was reportedly the first member of the Israeli cabinet ever assassinated by a Palestinian group.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that Ze'evi was assassinated in retaliation for the assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa, the PFLP's former leader. Ze'evi was also one of the most strident opponents of compromise with the Palestinian Authority.

October 12, 2001

Press Conference Seeks to Explain Limbaugh's Hearing Loss

Yesterday, a press conference to explain Rush Limbaugh's sudden hearing loss was held in Los Angeles. posted a partial transcript of the press conference for people who did not hear it live. Apparently, it was carried live on many of the radio stations that also carry The Rush Limbaugh Program.

October 10, 2001

Limbaugh's Hearing Loss Result of Auto-Immune Disorder

Matt Drudge has learned that Rush Limbaugh's hearing loss is probably the result of an auto-immune disorder. Reportedly, the condition is called auto-immune inner ear disease (AIED). It is extremely rare, causing less than one percent of all hearing and equilibrium loss.

October 8, 2001

Rush Limbaugh Affected by Profound Hearing Loss

Earlier today, Rush Limbaugh told his audience that he has lost virtually all of his hearing in the past 3 months. Last week when he was supposedly on vacation, he was rehearsing ways that he could continue hosting his show without hearing the callers.

The Drudge Report has a story repeating the announcement and providing a transcript of Rush Limbaugh's statement to his audience. The Associated Press also ran a story summarizing the situation late this afternoon.

Update: The Washington Post ran a story about Rush Limbaugh in its Entertainment section. In it Al Franken is quoted as saying, "If I had my druthers, his show wouldn't be on the air and it wouldn't be as popular as it is. But, no one wishes anything like this on him." Who cares if you hate what Rush Limbaugh stands for, Al? Can't you give it a rest in a situation like this?

September 26, 2001

NYC to Ban One Occupant Cars from Manhattan Beginning Thursday

In a move that some New York City officials have been urging since the World Trade Center Attack, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced that passenger vehicles with one occupant would not be permitted to enter Manhattan beginning Thursday, September 26, 2001.

Giuliani made the announcement at a press conference that was broadcast live over some radio and television outlets. This caused immediate speculation about how such restrictions would be implemented. Last night, it appeared that the ban would be implemented first at the bridges across the East River, which are controlled by the New York City Department of Transportation.

However, an article about the planned restrictions in today's New York Times says, "City officials said the ban would apply to cars entering Manhattan south of 62nd Street between 6 a.m. and noon weekdays on all the East River bridges that the city controls. The city also expects the cooperation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the Lincoln Tunnel, and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, which operates the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, in placing the same restrictions at those crossings."

Continue reading "NYC to Ban One Occupant Cars from Manhattan Beginning Thursday" »

September 5, 2001

HP and Compaq: $25 Billion for a Computer Services Group?

Dave Aiello wrote, "I noticed that many Wall Street analysts agree with me on the proposed HP-Compaq merger. The New York Times says that the merger '{is viewed} as an admission of weakness rather than strength and as an indication that a shakeout has begun in the brutally competitive computer business.' I think that the most valuable acquisition HP is making is the service business that Compaq acquired when it took over Digital Equipment Corporation. Is this business worth the amount of stock that HP is giving away?"

"The greatest cost, of course, is the opportunity cost of focusing the combined organization inward to rationalize its overlapping businesses. Can anyone in the hardware industry afford to take its eye off the ball for a year at this point?"

August 6, 2001

Marv Levy Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

Dave Aiello wrote, "On Saturday, former Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Through my uncle, Denny Lynch who works for the Buffalo Bills, many people in my family have met Marv Levy and have developed a great deal of respect for him."

"My sister Julie sent me this link to the text of Levy's induction speech from the Buffalo News. I thought it was an excellent speech, capturing many of the high points of a great career. So, I decided to link to it from here."

June 25, 2001

Truck Accident in Denville Causes Huge Fire, Closes Highway for Days

Dave Aiello wrote, "Friday morning at about 5:45am, there was a three tractor trailer accident on the Westbound side Route 80, close to Downtown Denville. This was the closest thing I ever saw in my hometown to one of the disaster episodes on the old TV show Emergency."

"In order to avoid certain delays, I left a few minutes later to go to a client's office in New York. I got a really good view of 35,000 gallons of gasoline burning due to the rupture of a half loaded tanker truck that was part of the accident. That's one of those moments where I wish I had my digital camera handy in the car."

"It appears that the Westbound viaduct over Den Brook will have to be replaced, due to the extreme fire damage. Read on for some links to stories about the incident...."

Continue reading "Truck Accident in Denville Causes Huge Fire, Closes Highway for Days" »

June 22, 2001

National Review Points Out Prejudices of European Elites

Yesterday, George Kuykendall pointed out the Impromptus column on National Review Online. In it, Jay Nordlinger takes the French media to task for calling George W. Bush a "Three-B Man", standing for "the Bible, baseball, and barbecue." Sometimes it's really hard not to get upset when confronted with such blatant examples of prejudiced thinking. But, when these types of things are unapologetically printed in European magazines, you can see how much more tolerant of differing personal ideologies this country is than are many European countries.

June 13, 2001

State Farm Says It Will Quit NJ Auto Insurance Business

The New York Times is reporting that State Farm plans to quit the auto insurance business in New Jersey. No major insurer has taken this action since before Christie Whitman was elected Governor, nearly eight years ago.

It is possible that this announcement has been timed in order to extract the greatest possible concessions from the current Republican administration. Media reports have indicated that the Republican party is expected to lose both the Governor's race and possibly control of both chambers of the Assembly in elections this Fall. So, they may wish to take action to stablize the market, which has operated for a long time under rules largely defined by Republicans.

There are many obvious problems with the auto insurance market in New Jersey. It would be easy to call for dramatic reform, but that would be like calling for good weather as one goes on vacation: we all do it every year, and we get what's coming to us anyway.

June 11, 2001

McVeigh Deserved Death

Dave Aiello wrote, "The New York Times got the lead right in their story about the execution of Timothy McVeigh:"

Timothy McVeigh, a disgruntled Army veteran who went on to declare war on the United States government by blowing up a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people, was executed by lethal injection this morning at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

Dave Aiello continued, "By our laws, McVeigh deserved death. His final judgement can only come from God."

June 4, 2001

New Editions of C.S. Lewis Books May Drop References to Christianity

Dave Aiello wrote, "A couple of people in my family really treasure the Narnia series of books by C.S. Lewis. So, it troubles me to read an article in the National Post, a Canadian newspaper, that says a new edition of the series may attempt to eliminate allusions to Christanity."

"This is yet another attempt to tell only the most politically correct part of a story. If we hang around long enough, I'm sure someone will remake It's a Wonderful Life without any references to Christmas or Clarence the Angel."

"The National Post article suggests that the HarperCollins is motivated by the possibility of dramatically increasing sales of this series in the wake of the success of J.R. Rowling's Harry Potter series. But, Harry Potter wasn't reformulated in this fashion. There's a good possibility that the entertaining qualities of the stories will be diminished in the editing process. But, even if they weren't, efforts like these will have a negative impact on children's ability to understand and appreciate the spiritual side of our culture."

May 24, 2001

TiVo Granted Patents on Digital Video Recording Technology

Slashdot is reporting that TiVo has been granted a number of patents on Personal Video Recording. We really like this product. After using it on a daily basis for more than a year, and seeing the vendor's commitment to enhance its usefulness, it's clear that they deserve patent protection for their ability to reduce hard disk-based video recording to something that's as easy to use as a microwave oven.

The most interesting comment added to the Slashdot article discussion so far is the one pointing to the section of the TiVo Web Site where they publish the TiVo-developed enhancements to the Linux PowerPC Kernel. Although the link appears in a question about the UltimateTV system (a competing PVR system from Microsoft), the comment praises TiVo for its commitment to OpenSource.

May 23, 2001

Comcast Buys Stakes in OLN and the Golf Channel from Fox

Earlier today, PR Newswire carried the announcement that Comcast has bought Fox Cable Networks' interests in the Golf Channel and the Outdoor Life Network. Perhaps this means that Comcast will soon carry these channels on their digital cable service.

This news is of particular interest to fans of the Outdoor Life Network who live in Comcast cable territories in South and Central New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. For them, the only way to see the adventure sports that are OLN's bread and butter is to subscribe to DirecTV.

Just for Fun: More Interesting than Expected

Dave Aiello wrote, "I finished the audio version of Just for Fun : The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary by Linus Torvalds and David Diamond. I did not have great expectations for this book when I ordered it from It has the earmarks of a hastily thrown-together biography designed to cash in on a celebrity at the zenith of his popularity. But, I was glad to find that the book provided some useful insights into:

  • Linus' life before Linux,
  • the development of Linux prior to 1.0,
  • his personal life, and
  • the techniques he uses to manage his jobs at Transmeta and as the lead developer of Linux."

Read on for more details....

Continue reading "Just for Fun: More Interesting than Expected" »

May 20, 2001 Publishes List of Sites Related to Giro d'Italia

Dave Aiello wrote, "I have been meaning to build a Slashbox containing a list of Web Sites with good cycling content, but has beaten me to it. The site list is specifically oriented toward The 2001 Giro d'Italia, otherwise known as the Tour of Italy. But, you can easily follow these links and find the main page of cycling info."

"I am still likely to set up a Slashbox for, but I don't feel as urgent a need to do it as I did before I found this list."

May 17, 2001

Slashdot Story Illustrates Validity of Concerns about Rights of End Users under Copyright Law

Normally, we don't go out of our way to point out articles that appear on Slashdot. After all, everyone who is really into the Web and related digital technologies seems to read it anyway. But, an article that appeared on Slashdot yesterday was definitely worth studying because the author made a number of fair points about the possible erosion of the Fair Use Doctrine in Copyright Law as digital entertainment technology advances.

The article points to an LA Times article about anti-piracy measures that may be implemented in future Digital TVs. The author of the Slashdot piece points out that the types of copy controls being proposed may limit the value of devices like TiVo and other means that may be developed to allow people to time-shift or location-shift their viewing.

It's fairly easy to see why so many technology savvy people get so worried by these sorts of industry initiatives. The producers of television, movies, and music have every right to be concerned about the value of their product in an environment where rampant copying is condoned. This article, in context with some of the more reasonable Slashdot user commentary, illustrates the concerns that consumers will express once they understand the Entertainment Industry's goals (as well as the technology they intend to deploy) better.

Some New Jersey Public Schools Take "Zero Tolerance" Literally

The New York Times is reporting that the Manalapan, NJ Board of Education has jumped off the deep end when it comes to identifying threatening behavior exhibited by young children. The Times documents a number of cases in which ten year-old kids made obviously inoccuous excalamations that resulted in the students receiving suspensions and permanent police records.

There is absolutely no doubt that the parents in these districts are partly to blame. The article points out, "Last year, parents at the elementary schools pressed the school board to make sure no intruders entered the buildings, which prompted the schools to require that visitors be buzzed in." These parents need to learn how to assess risk more realistically and to be careful what they demand from their school administrators. Otherwise, they are likely to find hair-trigger policies like these put in place everywhere.

Of course, everyone in the Manalapan-Englishtown School District looks foolish now. The superintendant could have put a stop to this before his district made national news. But, that would have required a degree of finesse that teachers and administrators in our public schools too often lack.

May 14, 2001

Doc Searls Deserves Abuse for Anti-New Jersey Bigotry

Doc Searls decided to make jokes at the expense of people from New Jersey today. At the same time, he said that no one had criticized him for pointing to a vulgar article that had appeared in The Onion. We don't really care about that, although it's certainly in bad taste.

Most of the people associated with CTDATA are from New Jersey. We don't feel insecure about living here. Nevertheless, we'd like to point out that we don't find his attempt at stereotypical humor funny.

Hey Doc, if this story on your Weblog is the only article of yours that a person ever read, wouldn't most people dismiss you as an uneducated jerk? You have written some really entertaining and educational stuff in the past. Why lower your standards now? And, why should you single out people from the Garden State for abuse because you remember overhearing people using profanity when you were a kid?

Don't blame a state for old bad habits.

March 26, 2001

Comic Strip on Yahoo! Leads to Research on Greeting Card Purchases

Dave Aiello wrote, "Last week, I added a couple of comip strips to my MyYahoo! page. One of the strips I added was NonSequitur. The strip published for today featured a card store manager who said to a customer, 'They used to be called sympathy cards, but since women buy 90% of all greeting cards, we decided to be more market specific....'"

"This made me wonder if the statistic that was the basis for this comic strip was, in fact, true. Since I am convinced that I can find much of the information that I seek on a daily basis for little or no cost on the Internet, I decided to use this situation as a test. Read on for more details...."

Continue reading "Comic Strip on Yahoo! Leads to Research on Greeting Card Purchases" »

March 4, 2001

Photo Shows Damage to Washington State Capitol

A couple of days ago, we mentioned that the Metropolitan Seattle Area had experienced a major earthquake. At the time, we were told that the Washington State Capitol in Olympia had been severely damaged, that the dome had cracked, and that one of the pillars on the front of the building had been severely damaged. However, we had not seen many photos that documented the extent of the damage and put it in some perspective.

Today, we found a picture of the capitol which makes the extent of the damage pretty clear. It is in an article in Sunday's Seattle Times.

February 19, 2001

How Important was Dale Earnhardt?

Dave Aiello wrote, "We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the passing of Dale Earnhardt as a result of injuries suffered in a crash in the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Our sympathies go out to his family, friends, and fans."

"Many so-called Popular Culture Web Sites are grasping for an explanation of the outpouring of grief at the death of Dale Earnhardt. cannot seem to bring itself to call NASCAR a sport without placing the word in quotation marks. Auto racing seems to get about as much respect as ice hockey does, from people who have never been exposed to either sport. Both sports are treated with contempt by people who feel that interest in them correlates with either a lack of education or low income."

"Yet, evidence of the impact that Dale Earnhardt had on society continues to surface. What do the cynics do when they find tributes like the one that North Carolina Governor Michael Easley's staff posted to his official Web Site? Remember, this is the state where Red Hat and SAS are headquartered."

"Clearly, auto racing is a part of the Southern culture and, to some extent, rural culture across the entire United States. It is worthy of respect, even as it searches in earnest for long-overdue safety improvements. We do not love racing, but we are smart enough to respect it, and to recognize one of its greatest champions of all time."

Chiquita to be Acquired by Consolidated Fruit?

Cornelius and Max are cautiously optimistic about a Wall Street Journal report that Consolidated Fruit may increase its stake in Chiquita Brands. Chiquita owns one of the most well known brands in consumer marketing history. Although the brand is not likely to go away in any event, we would support structural improvements to the business. If that means acquisition by Consolidated Fruit, so be it.

February 16, 2001

Seattle Experiences Biggest Snow Storm in 6 Years

Martin O'Donnell reports that he awoke in Seattle today to find the largest snow fall since 1995. Nice to know that some other region of the country is experiencing their fair share of winter this year.

February 6, 2001

Winter Weather Finally Returns to New York City Area

Dave Aiello wrote, "Despite the fact it took me 4 hours and 20 minutes to get from New York City to Denville last night, I am pleased to report that we are experiencing a real winter in the New York Metropolitan Area this year. I have not bothered to measure the snow fall exactly, I'll leave that to others. I estimate that 15 to 18 inches of snow fell in Denville yesterday. For the entire season, I'm sure that we have recorded the most snow since 1996."

"In order to stay in good physical shape, I decided to do as much shoveling as possible around the house where I live. I have shoveled this winter for perhaps 10 hours in total. That seems like a lot to me. Last night, I started shoveling at 9:00 and finished around 11:00pm."

Continue reading "Winter Weather Finally Returns to New York City Area" »

January 19, 2001

Goodbye, Mr. Clinton

George Kuykendall passed along, without comment, a copy of Bill Clinton's statement regarding his settlement with Independent Counsel Robert W. Ray. In his statement, Mr. Clinton says, "I tried to walk a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely, but now I realize that I did not fully accomplish this goal...."

So ends the most ethical administration in history.

January 18, 2001

California's Long Dark Night

Dave Aiello wrote, "Rolling blackouts finally hit Northern California yesterday, and perhaps now the consumers will adopt a more realistic attitude toward all of the players in the electricity market debacle. The people of the State of California must look in the mirror this morning when trying to find someone to blame for spoiled food, stuck elevators, and all the other inconveniences that were theirs yesterday and perhaps for days to come."

"But, I would be foolish to say these things smugly because many of us take for granted that what happens in California is a harbinger for the entire United States. We must begin, today, to build the electric generation and transmission capacity that will be necessary to fuel our nation in the year 2010. We must do so in the cheapest and safest way possible-- not necessarily in the way that makes individual consumers feel most comfortable, and certainly not in the most politically correct way."

Continue reading "California's Long Dark Night" »

December 15, 2000

Drudge Report: Rush Limbaugh Highest Paid Info Broadcaster

Matt Drudge is reporting that Rush Limbaugh's earnings in the year 2000 will exceed those of Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Tom Brokaw combined. With total compensation estimated at nearly $30 million, Drudge concludes that Limbaugh is the "highest paid info-broadcaster in history."

We don't think Drudge was criticizing Limbaugh. Instead, he was marvelling at his ability to attract an audience. Rush Limbaugh probably earned more than the big three TV anchors because he had a better year than they did. At least he called the presidential election in the State of Florida correctly the first time.

Continue reading "Drudge Report: Rush Limbaugh Highest Paid Info Broadcaster" »

November 27, 2000

Santa Claus Fails to Show Up at Denville Holiday Parade

The Daily Record, the paper-of-record in Morristown, NJ, reports that Santa Claus failed to show up at the Denville Holiday Parade. For those in our world-wide audience who have never been to Denville for the Holiday Parade, it is a big deal for our home town (population 14,000), and a fixture on the calendar on the weekend after Thanksgiving for at least 20 years.

This is a big embarassment for the Denville Fire Department and the Chamber of Commerce, two organizations that have traditionally worked to raise funds and organize the parade. Of course we feel bad for them, since all of the members of these organizations are volunteers.

Continue reading "Santa Claus Fails to Show Up at Denville Holiday Parade" »

November 23, 2000

The Desolate Wilderness and the Fair Land

Dave Aiello wrote, "There is no doubt in my mind that of all American holidays, Thanksgiving is the greatest. I often wonder how a holiday like this has survived through the constant change that is our nation's history. Yet, all Americans, regardless of our beliefs, take the time to be with friends and family, and to thank God for the blessings that He has bestowed upon us."

"Each year, The Wall Street Journal publishes two articles on its Editorial page on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I want to thank them for making these articles available on their free Web Site, Reading them is one of my favorite moments of the season."

The Desolate Wilderness, taken from Nathaniel Morton's New England's Memorial:

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton,
keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they
knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to
Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits....

And the Fair Land written by Vermont Royster, 1949:

.... We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing
themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that
enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth....

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from everyone at CTDATA.

November 22, 2000

Floridians Get the Government They Deserve, All Americans Pay

The old saying "we get the government we deserve" is attributed to H.L. Mencken, a man who mocked God and organized religion. We don't agree with everything he stood for, but we agree with his sentiment in the regard to the latest pronouncement of the Florida Supreme Court.

The people of Florida, in their infinite wisdom, elected Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles as their governors, who in turn appointed six of the seven justices of the Florida Supreme Court. Several of the justices have been subjected to merit retention votes and, in effect, been re-elected.

So, when the Supreme Court makes a ruling that substantially changes the legislative intent of Florida election law, we ought to blame the justices for not rising above their own political preferences. But, the previous governors of Florida and the people themselves deserve some of the blame as well.

Let this be a lesson to those who say that laws and procedures in other states have no effect on people who do not live there.

Continue reading "Floridians Get the Government They Deserve, All Americans Pay" »

November 21, 2000

Questions About Unsigned Code on Microsoft's Whistler OS

Earlier today, we learned that Whistler, a new operating system under development at Microsoft, may be designed to provide users with the ability to stop any code that is not digitally signed from being executed. As it was described on Slashdot and ZDnet, this security scheme would not be granular, thereby appealing to users and IT managers who do not have the expertise to determine the appropriateness of unsigned code.

It may be a bit early to question the approach since we've seen nothing official, but, we thought we would make a couple of observations about the drawbacks to the design as it has been described in the press. Our primary concerns are with the impact this type of security mechanism would have on template-driven Web publishing environments and P2P applications that we have seen or understand to be under development at this time.

Continue reading "Questions About Unsigned Code on Microsoft's Whistler OS" »

November 12, 2000

Buffalo Bills Enshrine Vietnam Veteran to Wall of Fame

On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills enshrined two new members to their Wall of Fame inside Ralph Wilson Stadium.

While we are sure that George Saimes had a great career with the Bills, playing in five Pro Bowls, his achievements are overshadowed by the life and death of Bob Kalsu. Bob Kalsu was the only professional football player to be killed in action in Vietnam.

There is no greater indication of the integrity of the Buffalo Bills organization than the fact that they would remember Bob Kalsu, an active player in their organization for only one season, 1968. The induction of Bob Kalsu will help current and future Bills fans to put the sport into proper perspective.

November 8, 2000

A Moment in History: The 2000 Presidential Election is Too Close to Call

As anyone who stayed up until 4:30am Eastern Time on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning knows, the U.S. Presidential election hinged upon Florida and the results are inconclusive. This has all the drama of the last play of Super Bowl XXXIV, where Kevin Dyson of the Tennessee Titans was stopped one yard short of the end zone by the Rams' Mike Jones, denying the Titans the opportunity to tie the game and send it into overtime.

Well, in a political and civic sense America is now in overtime, for the first time in the lives of any living American.

A number of people who did not stay up until the bitter end have asked us, "How could the result be in such doubt? And, why was Florida projected to have been won, first by Gore, and then by Bush?"

We came up with two reasons: 1) Although running vote counts were available in several places, none of the sources ever reported the total number of absentee ballots outstanding. 2) The State of Florida's election results Web Site was overwhelmed and differed substantially from the information being provided by the Voter News Service.

To prove the point, we invite you to look at this screen shot that we captured from the State of Florida's Election Web Site. It shows the vote count as it stood when the Secretary of State said that 100 percent of the precincts were reporting. It took some doing to get this screen shot, but it clearly shows why no one felt comfortable calling George W. Bush the ultimate winner as long as ballots from overseas absentees remain outstanding.

October 10, 2000

Does Pearl Jam Have an Effective Strategy Against Napster?

A few days ago, USA Today reported that Pearl Jam continues to set industry records in the wake of their unprecedented concurrent release of 25 albums. They have now succeeded in putting five of those albums into the Billboard Top 200 in the first week that they were eligible. This is the first time that any recording artist has placed any more than two new releases or more than one live album on the Top 200 at the same time.

We wonder if these low cost, live albums are the future of the traditional recording industry. They certainly provide Pearl Jam fans with an appealing alternative to poor quality bootlegs distributed through Napster.

Continue reading "Does Pearl Jam Have an Effective Strategy Against Napster?" »

October 9, 2000

Clinton - Lazio Debate Includes Question about Email Hoax is reporting that the moderator of the second Hillary Clinton - Rick Lazio Debate stumped the candidates with a question about Bill 602P. Marcia Kramer, a correspondent for WCBS-TV in New York asked {a question apparently directed at Mrs. Clinton}, "I'd like to ask you how you stand on federal bill 602P... under the bill that’s
now before Congress, the U.S. Postal Service will bill
e-mail users 5 cents for each e-mail they send even though
the post office provides no service."

Neither candidate had any idea what Kramer was talking about, although both voiced some degree of opposition to the concept. The reason that they were stumped is that the viewer-submitted question is based on an email hoax that has been circulating for well over a year.

Continue reading "Clinton - Lazio Debate Includes Question about Email Hoax" »

October 4, 2000

Prescription Errors May Be Reduced if Doctors' Handwriting Improves

CNN is reporting an AP story that says that hospitals are offering penmanship classes for doctors in an attempt to reduce the number of prescription errors. According to the article, "... up to 25 percent of medication errors may be related to illegible handwriting."

In his daily broadcast of The Osgood File, Charles Osgood of CBS suggested that errors would also be reduced if doctors used PDAs instead of prescription pads. We are looking for source material to document his statements. If we find it, we will post it as an addendum to this story.

October 2, 2000

Electronic Toll Collection Finally a Reality on the NJ Turnpike

After a seemingly endless delay, the New Jersey Turnpike has implemented the electronic toll collection system called E-ZPass. This means that it is possible to travel from Boston to Buffalo and Albany to Wilmington along toll roads without stopping to pay cash.

Some of us who put E-ZPass on our cars two or three years ago never thought that we would live to see the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway fully implement electronic toll collection. Although we would prefer if tolls were totally removed from these roads, the implementation of E-ZPass is the next best thing. Motorists in the Northeast should rejoice in the same fashion as when our states finally accepted the 65 mile per hour speed limit.

September 20, 2000

New York Times: NBC's Olympics Ratings are Worst Ever

Confirming our prediction, The New York Times reports that NBC's Sydney Olympic Games coverage is getting the worst ratings in U.S. broadcast history.

According to the article, "Many sports and television executives blamed the long delays
between the results, which are now widely reported on every
news media outlet and the Internet, and the coverage. 'Even
the morning papers are giving results,' said Barry Frank, the
senior group vice president of the International Management
, and a longtime negotiator of television rights for the

Continue reading "New York Times: NBC's Olympics Ratings are Worst Ever" »

September 19, 2000

GE HomeGen 7000 Residential Fuel Cell to be Sold by NJ Resources

On Sunday, Slashdot broke a story about the announcement of the General Electric HomeGen 7000 Residential Fuel Cell Power System. This is the first fuel cell system that we are aware of that is designed to be installed in residential and small business applications.

Close examination of the GE MicroGen Web Site indicates that GE has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with New Jersey Resources for deployment of the Fuel Cells in New Jersey.

CTDATA is very concerned about the reliability of the public power grid in the Northeast and California. This fuel cell product looks like a way to improve the reliability of electric power delivered to our business locations and our homes.

Continue reading "GE HomeGen 7000 Residential Fuel Cell to be Sold by NJ Resources" »

September 8, 2000

TiVo-Enabled Ads Begin Appearing on Encore

Following up on our previous story about interactive advertisement development taking place at TiVo and ReplayTV, today we witnessed the first use of the so-called TiVomatic recording scheduler.

When an ad for an upcoming movie appeared on the cable network Encore, a small TiVo icon superimposed itself on the upper right hand part of the TV screen. It indicated that something would happen if you clicked on either the "Select" or thumbs up buttons of the TiVo remote. We decided to try it to see what would happen.

Continue reading "TiVo-Enabled Ads Begin Appearing on Encore" »

September 1, 2000

Bill Clinton to Small Businesses: Drop Dead

Although the people who work at CTDATA have strong political views, we try to limit the number of political stories posted to our site. We feel compelled to make an exception for President Bill Clinton's veto of the Estate and Gift Tax Phase Outs, technically known as H.R. 8.

These taxes destroy small businesses by forcing many of them into liquidation upon the death of the founder or major shareholder. As long as these taxes are not repealed or scaled back, they will be a major issue for any successful small business, and that includes CTDATA.

Continue reading "Bill Clinton to Small Businesses: Drop Dead" »

August 31, 2000

WSJ Personal Technology Reviews "Prosumer" DV Cameras

Stephanie Capparell wrote an excellent review and comparison of the Canon XL-1 and Sony DCR-VX2000 Digital Video (DV) cameras. These devices are referred to as prosumer meaning that they straddle the gap between professional and consumer video cameras.

These video cameras are both of high enough quality to be used for most business presentations. They also produce digital images which can be transferred to PCs or Macintoshes, edited, and in some cases, returned to tape.

Continue reading "WSJ Personal Technology Reviews "Prosumer" DV Cameras" »

August 30, 2000

Red Herring Says TiVo and ReplayTV Working on Interactive Ads for PVR Devices

On Monday, The Red Herring reported that ReplayTV and TiVo are working on mechanisms to embed interactive content in TV programs. This would allow Personal Video Recorder (PVR) users to immediately order advertised products and might also create other, less transaction-oriented interactivity.

This will be quite interesting to some television viewers who are not the earliest adopters of this technology. But, we question how much this type of thing will appeal to people who bought a PVR six months ago.

Continue reading "Red Herring Says TiVo and ReplayTV Working on Interactive Ads for PVR Devices" »

August 25, 2000

Study Indicates Adult Onset Diabetes Soaring in USA

What good is all of the technology we are building if we don't have good health to enjoy it? Anyone who reads news accounts of the study just released in the journal Diabetes Care about the huge increase in adult onset diabetes has to ask himself this question.

Dr. Frank Vinicor of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hit the nail on the head when he said that obesity is "not just a cosmetic issue anymore." Many in the computer industry will live lower quality lives or die prematurely if they do not change their ways. At CTDATA we believe it, and have done what we can to adjust our schedules. This has allowed us to get outside and exercise.

Continue reading "Study Indicates Adult Onset Diabetes Soaring in USA" »

August 13, 2000

Northwest NJ Deluged with Rain

A number of media outlets reported that Northwest New Jersey was hit by a huge storm that dumped seven to 14 inches of rain in a six hour period. Some people that have contacted us wonder how bad the damage is. Although we can tell you that the damage is pretty bad (CTDATA is 5 to 10 miles away from the hardest hit areas), we can't get near the areas of worst damage because many roads are impassable.

We did manage to take a couple of photos in Denville and Dover on Sunday morning. Read on if you are interested....

Continue reading "Northwest NJ Deluged with Rain" »

Author of "The New New Thing" Reviews TiVo in New York Times

Dave Aiello wrote, "For the last few months, I have been telling friends that a TiVo personal video recorder is a must buy product. It allows you to time shift television viewing and to get more value out of your cable or direct broadcast satellite subscription."

"Michael Lewis, author of one of my favorite books of the Year 2000, The New New Thing, has written an article in the New York Times Magazine profiling TiVo and ReplayTV. Lewis believes the widespread purchase of these units by consumers is inevitable. The article discusses the many ways that this technology will change broadcasting and mass marketing to consumers. In short, TiVo and ReplayTV represent the end of broadcasting as we know it."

Continue reading "Author of "The New New Thing" Reviews TiVo in New York Times" »

August 4, 2000

CTDATA Congratulates Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on Her Birthday

Dave Aiello wrote, "On behalf of Chatham Township Data Corporation, it gives me great pleasure to post this message congratulating Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother of Great Britain on the occasion of her one hundreth birthday. She is deserving of recognition by all who value freedom because she acted with great courage during the darkest moments of the Nazi bombardment of England during World War II."

"It is unlikely that those of us alive today will ever see another person who will have such an unbroken record of leadership in service to any nation. Although CTDATA is a small company, our Web Site provides us with the ability to speak to a world audience. We ought not hesitate to briefly recognize historic milestones and the people who achieve them."

August 2, 2000

Welcome to Visitors from

This morning, Slashcode ran a story about in its Yet Another Slash Site (YASS) section. We would like to welcome those of you who clicked through to us from Slashcode, and also to thank the guys running the Slashcode Web Site for linking to us.

CTDATA is pleased to be a part of the Slashcode community, and we look forward to the opportunity to contribute more of our own technology in the months ahead.

August 1, 2000

ChexSystems, National Database of Bad Check Transactions, Profiled in WSJ

A company known as eFunds maintains a database called ChexSystems that contains bank customers who have been involved in checking account transactions that have resulted in charge-offs by its member banks. According to the report in the Wall Street Journal, ChexSystems is "a national
database to which 80% of bank branches in the country
subscribe. Once lodged in ChexSystems, you automatically
stay there for five years, whether your offense was bouncing
a check or two or committing serious fraud. The large
majority of banks using ChexSystems reject any
checking-account applicant they find in the database."

The article goes on to state that the majority of the seven million people who are listed in the database are of modest means (i.e. middle to low income) and are often rejected for new checking accounts or credit cards for a five year period.

Continue reading "ChexSystems, National Database of Bad Check Transactions, Profiled in WSJ" »

July 31, 2000

New York Area Fails to Hit 90F in July for Second Time in a Century

Dave Aiello wrote, "Yesterday, I started hearing reports that temperatures in New York City failed to reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the entire month of July. According to the Associated Press, this is only the second time in the past 100 years where this was the case."

"In this area, we had lots of days last summer where it was opressively hot. The only summer I remember that was like this one was when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, except that I believe it rained even more than it has this year."

Continue reading "New York Area Fails to Hit 90F in July for Second Time in a Century" »

July 28, 2000

Puppeteer for Spokesdog in Ad on Strike

CNET is reporting that the puppeteer that plays the sock puppet dog in the ads for is on strike as a result of the job action by the Screen Actors Guild and the American
Federation of Television and Radio Artists
against the advertising industry.

Among other things, the article says that has sold over 35,000 of its sock puppets. That's amazing.

Drudge Report: Rush Limbaugh to Launch Alternative News Site

Yesterday, Matt Drudge reported that Rush Limbaugh is planning to expand his Web Site beyond its current role as a gateway to streaming versions of his radio program. The new functionality will include many features traditionally associated with a portal, although nothing in the report indicates that it is being designed as a portal.

"It will operate much like a listener's guide, with links to newspaper, magazine, internet articles
and wire copy that Rush brings up on his show," says an insider. "It will also feature many of the
comedy bits, current and from years past."

This site is going to be one of the biggest sites on the Internet, regardless of its production values. He will drive traffic just by referring people listening to his program to the site for more information about what is being discussed.

July 26, 2000

BBC: US Physicists Reveal Previously Unknown Vulnerabilities in Internet

The British Broadcasting Company is reporting that U.S. physicists have documented previously unknown vulnerabilities in the continuity of the Internet. Scientists at Notre Dame demonstrated in simulations that attacks against only the top four percent of Internet nodes (according to the number of interconnections that they have access to) would result in terrible problems with packet loss.

Anyone who has servers that are co-located somewhere else in the United States already has some sense of how vulnerable the network is to a large scale loss of continuity. Even if you buy your access from a provider that own a great deal of backbone connectivity, you can find yourself unable to access servers in other parts of the country. This is often due to router or capacity problems at ISPs with which your provider has peering agreements.

Lance Armstrong Rings Closing Bell at NYSE

Dave Aiello wrote, "One of the advantages of having clients on Wall Street that I have never taken advantage of is the opportunity to visit the New York Stock Exchange during the trading day. However, today at the New York Stock Exchange, Lance Armstrong was honored for
the Tour de France
. He was accompanied by Phil Knight of Nike and his
to ring the closing bell."

"My friend Richard Ziegler and I took a little
off from work to be there. It was fun, but we got about as close to him as
would have standing at the finish of one of the stages."

"There is no photography allowed inside the NYSE, otherwise I would have taken a picture with my Nikon Coolpix 950. But, I have a witness and
ticket to prove I was there." (Update: Story on Yahoo! about all the events that Lance Armstrong took part in today.)

Anti-Republican Convention News Site to be Powered by Slashcode

We learned from a posting on Slashcode that the Independent Media Center of Philadelphia has launched its Slashcode-based Web Site in time to participate in the hoopla surrounding the Republican National Convention.

The Independent Media Center describes itself as "a collective of independent media ogranizations and hundreds of journalists offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage. Our IMC is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, objective, and passionate tellings of truth." {Emphasis added by CTDATA.}

Hmm... wonder if they were in favor of Bush picking Cheney as his running mate?

WSJ: Napster Guards its Own Intellectual Property Closely

There's a great article in today's Wall Street Journal (syndicated via MSNBC) that discusses the lengths to which Napster will go to ensure that it retains control of its own itellectual property. According to the article:

Napster’s hopes of transforming its busy Web service
into a source of revenue depend on its withstanding the
music industry’s legal assault. At the same time, however, it
is taking an increasing amount of flak from those seeking
access to its database or its technology. The result is a
public-relations skirmish over whether Napster, which
portrays itself as a champion of youth culture and the Web’s
freewheeling ways, applies a double standard to intellectual
property, making it cavalier toward other people’s, but
hyperprotective of its own.

It would be ironic if they were forced to use the DMCA to enforse their rights to their software while arguing against the same law with respect to the use of their application.

Canadian Retailer Roots May Start an Airline

Forbes is reporting the Roots, a stylish Canadian clothing retailer similar to The Gap, is planning to found an airline in partnership with an air charter firm.

"For $3.4 million, privately held Roots will own a 13% stake in Roots
Air; Skyservice Airlines, an air charter company, will be majority
owner and will supply the crews. Roots Air is looking for an additional
$27 million of capital from institutional investors."

Canada may need to competition in commercial air service, now that Canadian has been acquired by Air Canada. But, is having a Roots-branded airline the right way?

Update: Roots Air launches March 26, 2001. Further information at

Amazingly, this is one of the most popular Web Pages on

July 25, 2000

How do I Add the CTDATA Channel to My Netscape Portal Page?

Now that CTDATA has joined the My Netscape Network (MNN) you can easily add a CTDATA Channel to your My Netscape Portal Page. To do so, simply click on the button shown immediately below:

WIDTH="88" HEIGHT="31" BORDER="0">

This button is also conveniently located at the bottom of every page on the Web Site.

Welcome to Visitors from the My Netscape Network

Dave Aiello wrote, "On behalf of CTDATA, I would like to extend a special welcome to visitors who found us through My Netscape and the My Netscape Network (MNN)."

"My Netscape was one of the groundbreaking Web applications, in that it introduced a content syndication technology called RSS (Rich Site Summary). RSS allows any company operating a database-driven, information oriented Web Site to publish a summary of its latest content from its Web Site. This summary can be integrated into other Web Sites that support content syndication, including a number of portal and directory sites."

Continue reading "Welcome to Visitors from the My Netscape Network" »

July 24, 2000

SI Columnist Criticizes Media for Overlooking Lance Armstrong's Achievement

Richard Ziegler pointed out this piece in Sports Illustrated by Jack McCallum that takes the American sports media to task for failing to properly cover Lance Armstrong's second consecutive victory in the Tour de France. McCallum wrote, "Now that the weekend results are in, we see that Armstrong's
six-minute victory in the Tour was every bit as dominating as Woods' win
at St. Andrews, but will no doubt be the secondary story on most sports
pages Monday morning, as well as on the tongues of most Americans,
mine included."

ESPN refers to Woods and Armstrong as if they shared the spotlight on either side of the English Channel. How can that be when network television didn't even bother to show anything on the final day of the Tour? And isn't it true that ABC and ESPN are not renewing their contract to cover the Tour for next year?

Is CyberSource Unfairly Excluding Some Consumers from E-commerce?

Wired News is reporting that a credit profiling service called CyberSource may be excluding certain consumers with good credit histories from participating in e-commerce transactions.

"CyberSource's database includes the purchase history of all cards used
across all of its client sites. The company analyzes each new purchase
request against the database, running it through a complex series of
algorithms that ultimately spit out a single number between 0-99. The
higher the number, the higher the likelihood that the requested transaction
is fraudulent, according to CyberSource."

What happens next depends upon the vendor. But, a lot of vendors simply tell declined customers to call their credit card company. This is often the beginning of a big run-around because the credit card company typically has no access to the risk information on which CyberSource based its calculation.

L.L. Bean to Create Retail Presence in NY Area

Former CTDATA customer L.L. Bean is quietly establishing retail stores in exclusive suburban malls in the Northeast. This is reported this morning by the Associated Press, among others.

We stumbled upon this new approach to their business when Kathleen Kuykendall and Dave Aiello walked into Tyson's Corner Center in McLean, VA last weekend after a biathlon. The store is not set to open until this coming weekend, but it is obvious that L.L. Bean was looking for retail space in exclusive malls to create stores that bring a bit of the Freeport retail store experience closer to their customers.

Next time you see him, ask Martin O'Donnell how he went to Freeport for a day of shopping and didn't set foot in the L.L. Bean retail store? That must be like getting to Mecca and not going to the mosque.

Deutsche Telekom to Buy Voicestream Pending FCC Approval

Reports this morning indicate that VoiceStream Wireless Corporation has agreed to be acquired by Deutsche Telekom (NYT: registration required) for $50.8 billion pending the approval of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Who is VoiceStream? It's an acquisition vehicle that was created to unite most of the GSM-based cellular telephone systems in the United States. A former McCaw executive named John Stanton founded it in 1995 as a spin-off from Western Wireless that focused on digital mobile communications. They bought Omnipoint and Aerial along the way to assembling a national footprint. Hutchison Whampoa and Sonera invested before most people had ever heard of the company.

This will be a merger to die for if you are a Washington lobbyist. Congress and the FCC are very hesitant to let a company that is largely owned by a foreign government (Telekom) acquire a potentially large national communications company. If this deal goes through, however, it would apparently dilute the German government stake in Deutsche Telekom to less than 50 percent.

Continue reading "Deutsche Telekom to Buy Voicestream Pending FCC Approval" »

July 21, 2000

CTDATA Rolls Out Major Web Site Revision

Dave Aiello wrote, "My mother had a refrigerator magnet that said, 'Boring women have immaculate homes'. There is a parallel in the Web development community -- Only unemployed Web developers have good Web Sites. That's been our view until now, at least."

"We got tired of saving our best work for our clients. Our friends and family deserve a glimpse of our best technology. Therefore, we present our relaunched corporate Web Site, for your viewing pleasure."

"In the finest eat-your-own-dog-food tradition, we deliver the content through a modified version of Slashcode, the OpenSource project that is based on the Slashdot Web Site."