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Showing posts from July, 2008

Weird startup names.

Something I've noticed in this latest internet 2.0 bubble is the confusing and sometimes unbelievable choices that are made by start up founders with regards to naming their businesses. Gone are the days when picking a name is done to hint or indicate the service or product that is sold by the business. Today we get absolutely Machiavellian contrivances that combine various words such as "plurk" or we get other astounding things like "phweet" , your guess is as good as mine as to how that is supposed to be pronounced and god help the person trying to recall the site name at a url field for entry. Here is a list of some of my favorites (sarcasm).


just to name a few.

It is as if the creators of these sites are more interested in releasing their pretty little thing than in actually making money from the products or services hawked at the site. I mean seriously , "phweet" ????? how does t…

Face book plays "wack a clone"

The ready reproducibility of not only Facebooks "look and feel" but also its functionality is a direct consequence of the light weight technology that the site is built on. Any technologist knows that Facebook is a really well organized web site, the "well organized" part coming from using the built in hierarchical management of xml to collate messages from to users, to add entries to feeds to transform those xml files into rendered display elements for the site, it is quite a basic xml based publishing platform and nothing more. As such building a similar platform for anyone that knows a bit of xml , xsl and html and jsp is trivial. The "apps" that Facebook loves touting are more managed scripts cleverly categorized but nothing about that is patentable and is easily replicated so Facebook must resort to lawsuits to attempt to maintain its distinct advan…

Recession signs...AMWAY commercials!

What is a good sign that the economy is not doing as well as it could be? A few weeks ago I was watching the boob tube and caught a commercial where the claim was made that their company helped people build businesses. Not a new claim but near the end the advertiser revealed themself as "Amway Global" and I chuckled. Amway is what I like to call a legal pyramid scheme. Anyone that knows how it works, you get recruited by an Amway "business owner" who was previously suckered...I mean recruited by another "business owner" at some time in the past, they sold you on the idea of having the "freedom" to work as you want to work in "your own business". Usually, as an initiate unaware of how they plan to help you start "your business" you are invited to attend a meeting at a hotel, if you don't have money to go don't worry usually the recruiter will offer to pick you up and drop you home. When you finally get to the "eve…

T Boone Pickens gets wise to Wind...

A colleague recently sent me the link to T. Boone Pickens plan to get the US off of its dependence of imported fossil fuels. I'd been seeing the commercials on tv but didn't go to the site until after receiving the link.

I love the wind plan, that is part of exactly what we need but the fact remains, though we would definitely benefit from a "manhattan wind project" as proposed, would the oil companies unfetter Washington to allow the actions that will be necessary in their industry to facilitate such a huge initiative? After all, though a great deal of the oil money is going outside the country a lot of it is fattening the US oil companies. I am glad that as a giant in the oil industry Pickens is making a stand on the importance of a shift but will all those other guys (particularly the foreign importers with big money lobbies in Washington) tow his line? A good analogy that we've seen played out in the last 10 years is how the …

passive electrical storage using SC

[Post below was originally written as part of an email sent on 6/16/2008]

Ever wonder why the power grid always seems to go down in times of heavy use? It has to do with the requirement of power distribution that the power is generated and used on demand. We still (after almost 150 years of using electricity in a municipal capacity) have no efficient way to store generated electricity. This is not the same as a chemical battery which generates on load. Yes, we have capacitors and inductors but those store electricity either as charge or current respectively and both are amazingly complex devices for large potentials and currents, plus both can only store electricity for a limited time in a passive configuration (meaning disconnected from a circuit). They also have ratings beyond which excessive charge or current will destroy the device and thus propagate spikes through out the system potentially throwing those out (which is how black out cascades could take out entire sections of the …

Autorenewed for convenience??? Part Deux

As mentioned in the last post, I really hate the slimy tactic of providing "auto-renew" on a subscription purchased for an online service. In that post I didn't want to mention the company name that I was going to cancel since I didn't think it was a big deal (other than the mention of the so called "convenience" of auto renew) well today I nearly bursted an artery trying to cancel the auto renew on the month subscription I purchased from The problem is the cancel process is a draconian mess. I should not have to be forced to go anywhere else to cancel the subscription. When I purchased I used my credit card to buy the simple plan to try out the service, it was easy to sign up it should be just as easy to sign off, but it is not.

The first problem with the way their cancellation process is designed is in the complete ommission of a clear and ready button on the user profile page that says "cancel subscription" , this is common sense a…

Autorenewed for convenience???

I recently purchased a subscription to a some what popular dating site that will remain nameless in this post. ;) I could begin a discourse on the various dating sites online but that isn't the focus of this post. This post is about a particular aspect of their subscription service that I've noticed in other web sites that offer services on a subscription basis. Namely, the "auto renew" option that many offer after the term of your purchase are complete. Almost everyone automatically renews the subscription once the payment term is complete "for your convenience" ...this always pissed me off. It pissed me off because anyone who is aware of what is going on knows that "your convenience" is the furthest thing from the site owners mind in providing this autorenew feature. It works something like this. People tend to behave very impulsively online, they shoot from one site to the next, often you find yourself surfing for hours and at any given minute …