Monthly Archives: August 2006

Why Iran Today is NOT like Nazi Germany in 1938

There is a good piece over on Talking Points Memo about how Iran isn’t like Nazi Germany, circa 1938 (as the persistantly dishonest and incompetent Donald Rumsfield would like us believe)

For example, if Iran is preparing to mount a Hitler-style bid for world domination they must be engaged in a big military build-up, right? But there is no such build up. Maybe there’s no need for a build-up because the Iranian military is already so vast and mighty? Well, no. Iran has a defense budget of about $6 billion a year.

The United States spends over 50 times more than that. But perhaps comparisons to the USA are misleading. Lets compare our would-be regional hegemon to its neighbors. Well, Israel spends $9.6 billion and Saudi Arabia spends $25.2 billion. Pakistan, immediately adjacent to Iran and nuclear armed, actually has engaged in a recent defense buildup.

1 Year after Katrina

If George Bush were a Christian leader, as he seems to fashion himself, he’d be down on his knees, in front of God and man, begging for forgiveness for himself and his nation for abandoning its poor and sick to the devastation that hit New Orleans.

Instead, he’s up there, smug and proud, trying to act like he’s on top of something that is so much bigger than himself.

more at George Bush, Christian leader?

He still sickens me

Online shopping for items with lots of options that doesn’t suck?

I just speced out a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop for a new employee at work using the Lenovo website.  I chose a half-dozen or so non-standard options, and now I’m stuck, because I’m not the person with the credit card who is going to place the actual order.

Ideally, I’d be able to save the configuration without creating an account with Lenovo, and then send a link to the person with the credit card.  No dice.  There is an e-mail link at the bottom of the shopping card page, but it just sends an overview.  There may or may not be enough information there for someone to recreate the configuration I came up with, but if there is, they’ll have to do it by hand, which takes time and creates opportunities for mistakes.

There is an option to save the cart, but to to so, I have to create an account, which is a pain in the ass.

Lenovo isn’t the only one who does this.  The Apple Store seems to do pretty much exactly the same thing.  It’s the same way too when you are buying a bunch of items from NewEgg.

This isn’t an uncommon situation.  It’s often the case that the person with the want/need and the person with the money are two separate people.  Lots of purchases in homes and businesses, big and small, are group efforts.
Retailers, make it easy for us to work together to trade our money for your goods.  Is that too much to ask?

Google vs Microsoft Office Battle: opportunity or minefield for Startups?

Nicholas Carr “comments on the coverage”: of Google’s “newly introduced suite of Office-style applications”: noting that the focus on the “Google vs Microsoft” theme that runs through most of the discussion overshadows the more interesting story:

bq. the biggest threat is to neither Google nor Microsoft but to every other company hoping to get a foothold in the broad market for personal productivity applications

It’s an important point to make, but I don’t necessarily agree. This battle between giants isn’t good for any startup who wants to be the Microsoft of the personal productivity applications space, but it could be a great thing for startups who would be happy to be acquired by Google or Microsoft. Both Microsoft and Google ordinarily have a strong Not Invented Here streak that bias them against outside acquisitions, but in this battle both of them have strong incentives to be pragmatic.

For Microsoft, defending the Office cash-cow is important, moreso because it provides an important foundation for their their “Live” strategy. They need to move quickly, so they’ll be inclined to buy companies that will give them a head start. They also need to be defensive, by denying Google access to companies that would help them either close a gap with Microsoft, or open up an existing lead even further.

Similarly, Google, having entered this fight of its own will, will be disinclined to loose, so they’ll be looking for acquisitions (like Writely) that will help them both defensively and offensively.

As long as Google and Microsoft are battling over this space, there will be an opportunity for appropriately focused startups to acheive quick ROI via acquistion, but the founders should fully expect their personal vision to be sacrified to the strategy of their acquirer.

Better Project Management Tools

I would like to use a mind-map like interface to organize data in multiple hierarchies.

So, for example, I’d start out using “FreeMind”: to capture and organize ideas according to one hierarchy, like the type of feature they represent, then I’d switch to a different dimension and organize them according to relative priority & timeframe, then another to organize them by who is responsible for completing the tasks.

Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t really want to use a mind map UI to do all the organization. What I want is to be able to do my first organizational pass using a mind map, then I want to be able to switch into a spreadsheet view to add additional hierarchy information. Then I want to be able to view and perhaps tweak the map in a hierarchy based on the information I entered in tabular view. Most importanly, I want to be able to toggle between all these views, and have the changes I make in one view be reflected in the other.

As an added bonus, it would be cool if I could then easily map all of those dimensions into fields in the “change management system i’m using”: Again, I’d like these changes to propagate bidirectionally with the mindmap and tabular view.

Update: I’m not sure this is exactly what I want.  I am sure that I’m not happy with the existing tools for organizing and interacting with task information.