Ramblings & ephemera

Steve Jobs, genius

From Stephen Fry’s “Steve Jobs” (The New Adventures of Stephen Fry: 6 October 2011): Henry Ford didn’t invent the motor car, Rockefeller didn’t discover how to crack crude oil into petrol, Disney didn’t invent animation, the Macdonald brothers didn’t invent the hamburger, Martin Luther King didn’t invent oratory, neither Jane Austen, Tolstoy nor Flaubert invented […]

Eavesdropping with your cell phone

From David S. Bennahum’s “Hope You Like Jamming, Too” (Slate): …innovative industrial spies, who have several neat new tricks. These days, a boardroom Mata Hari can purchase a specially designed cell phone that will answer incoming calls while appearing to be switched off. In a business meeting, she could casually leave her phone on the […]

Security decisions are often made for non-security reasons

From Bruce Schneier’s Crypto-Gram of 15 July 2004: There was a single guard watching the X-ray machine’s monitor, and a line of people putting their bags onto the machine. The people themselves weren’t searched at all. Even worse, no guard was watching the people. So when I walked with everyone else in line and just […]

The real digital divide: knowing how to use what you have & not knowing

From Howard Rheingold’s interview in “Howard Rheingold’s Latest Connection” (Business Week: 11 August 2004): Here’s where Wikipedia fits in. It used to be if you were a kid in a village in India or a village in northern Canada in the winter, maybe you could get to a place where they have a few books […]

How free riders are good for open source

From Howard Rheingold’s interview in “Howard Rheingold’s Latest Connection” (Business Week: 11 August 2004): Then there’s open source [software]. Steve Weber, a political economist at UC Berkeley, sees open source as an economic means of production that turns the free-rider problem to its advantage. All the people who use the resource but don’t contribute to […]

Clay Shirky on the changes to publishing & media

From Parul Sehgal’s “Here Comes Clay Shirky” (Publisher’s Weekly: 21 June 2010): PW: In April of this year, Wired‘s Kevin Kelly turned a Shirky quote—“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”—into “the Shirky Principle,” in deference to the simple, yet powerful observation. … Kelly explained, “The Shirky Principle declares […]

These are their brilliant plans to save magazines?

From Jeremy W. Peters’ “In Magazine World, a New Crop of Chiefs” (The New York Times: 28 November 2010): “This is the changing of the guard from an older school to a newer school,” said Justin B. Smith, president of the Atlantic Media Company. The changes, he added, were part of an inevitable evolution in […]

Hanoi’s last blacksmith

From Seth Mydans’s “A Lone Blacksmith, Where Hammers Rang” (The New York Times: 25 November 2010): HANOI, Vietnam — He is the last blacksmith on Blacksmith Street, dark with soot, his arms dappled with burns, sweating and hammering at his little roadside forge as a new world courses past him. The son and grandson of […]

The widespread corruption at the heart of Greek culture

From Michael Lewis’s “Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds” (Vanity Fair: 1 October 2010): In just the past decade the wage bill of the Greek public sector has doubled, in real terms—and that number doesn’t take into account the bribes collected by public officials. The average government job pays almost three times the average private-sector job. […]

John Steinbeck on how Europe & America view poverty

From Nathaniel Benchley’s interview of John Steinbeck in “The Art of Fiction No. 45” (The Paris Review: Fall 1969, No. 48): I wonder whether you will remember one last piece of advice you gave me. It was during the exuberance of the rich and frantic twenties and I was going out into that world to […]

How the Madden NFL videogame was developed

From Patrick Hruby’s “The Franchise: The inside story of how Madden NFL became a video game dynasty” (ESPN: 22 July 2010): 1982 Harvard grad and former Apple employee Trip Hawkins founds video game maker Electronic Arts, in part to create a football game; one year later, the company releases “One-on-One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird,” […]

A summary of Galbraith’s The Affluent Society

From a summary of John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society (Abridge Me: 1 June 2010): The Concept of the Conventional Wisdom The paradigms on which society’s perception of reality are based are highly conservative. People invest heavily in these ideas, and so are heavily resistant to changing them. They are only finally overturned by new […]

Jeff Bezos on the differences between gifts and choices

From Jeff Bezos’s “We are What We Choose: Remarks by Jeff Bezos, as delivered to the Class of 2010 Baccalaureate” (Princeton University: 30 May 2010): What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given […]

Microsoft’s real customers

From James Fallow’s “Inside the Leviathan: A short and stimulating brush with Microsoft’s corporate culture” (The Atlantic: February 2000): Financial analysts have long recognized that Microsoft’s profit really comes from two sources. One is operating systems (Windows, in all its varieties), and the other is the Office suite of programs. Everything else — Flight Simulator, […]

Lovely – Microsoft will let companies create ad-filled desktop themes

From Jeff Bertolucci’s “Windows 7 Ads: Microsoft Tarts Up the Desktop” (PC World: 13 November 2009): Microsoft has announced plans to peddle Windows 7 desktop space to advertisers, who’ll create Windows UI themes–customized backgrounds, audio clips, and other elements–that highlight their brand, Computerworld reports. In fact, some advertiser themes are already available in the Windows […]

Bernie Madoff & the 1st worldwide Ponzi scheme

From Diana B. Henrioques’s “Madoff Scheme Kept Rippling Outward, Across Borders” (The New York Times: 20 December 2008): But whatever else Mr. Madoff’s game was, it was certainly this: The first worldwide Ponzi scheme — a fraud that lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than any similar scheme in history, entirely eclipsing the puny […]

Nicholas Carr’s cloud koan

From Nicholas Carr’s “Cloud koan” (Rough Type: 1 October 2009): Not everything will move into the cloud, but the cloud will move into everything.

Coppola on changes in the movie industry

From Bloomberg’s “Francis Ford Coppola Sees Cinema World Falling Apart: Interview” (12 October 2009): “The cinema as we know it is falling apart,” says Francis Ford Coppola. “It’s a period of incredible change,” says the director of “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now.” “We used to think of six, seven big film companies. Every one of […]

COBOL is much more widely used than you might think

From Darryl Taft’s “Enterprise Applications: 20 Things You Might Not Know About COBOL (as the Language Turns 50)” (eWeek: September 2009). http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Enterprise-Applications/20-Things-You-Might-Not-Know-About-COBOL-As-the-Language-Turns-50-103943/?kc=EWKNLBOE09252009FEA1. Accessed 25 September 2009. Five billion lines of new COBOL are developed every year. More than 80 percent of all daily business transactions are processed in COBOL. More than 70 percent of all […]

How to tell if someone is a good writer

Image by Esther_G via Flickr From Josh Olson’s “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script” (The Village Voice: 9 September 2009): It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you’re in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you’re dealing with someone who can’t.