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For the Gipper

Washington mourned the death of Ronald Reagan this week. While sentimental and opportunity for people to pay last respects, the mourning struck me, as it always does, somewhat misplaced. Why show so much respect for the dead when the living could use it more?

I understand that Alzheimer’s gripped the former president and that maybe he couldn’t appreciate friends or fellowship the way he used to. What about the family? Particularly considering the seriousness of his illness? 

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I Must Be Living Under a Rock

Living in the Washington, D.C. area—hey, right off Connecticut Ave., baby—and tracking high-tech and the Internet for work, you’d think I’d know about what’s going on. Apparently, I have too much in common with Patrick the starfish from SpongeBob Squarepants. There’s a reason he lives under a rock, folks.

This morning, while checking the couple hundred or so RSS feeds I monitor, I stumbled onto this tantalizing headline, “Sex Scandal Rocks US Congress,” from Express India. So exactly how far around the world do I have to go to get local news: “Washington loves nothing as much as a summer sex scandal, and the season is off to an early start this year, as a Congressional aide was sacked after posting her lovemaking exploits on the internet”, according to the story, with a dateline of today. 

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When Less Means Spending More

Over the weekend, I picked up a new computer for my wife. She had used a Dell Dimension PC for about a year and half and could have continued doing so. But she’s not as computer savvy as my fourth grader or me. Increasingly concerned about viruses and spyware, I had long considered moving her off a Windows XP PC and onto a Mac. Since I’m giving up my main domain and she was losing her e-mail address, I reasoned now was the right time for the Mac. She would get a new computer and .Mac e-mail address.

Ideally, a $799 eMac should have suited her needs. With a 1GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 256MB of RAM, 40GB hard drive, and DVD/CD-RW combo drive, the computer packed plenty more power than she needed for her main activities of doing e-mail and surfing the Web. For $200 more, I could have set her up with a faster processor, 20GB more storage, and a DVD burner. What’s not to like? 

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Strange, But Liberating

This week I agreed to relinquish my original domain name, editors.com. The new owner says he will use the domain to establish a site for editors and writers to commiserate. Oddly, I don’t care much how he uses the domain. When I acquired editors.com in August 1995, I had in mind to create some kind of writing site. Instead, the domain established a single e-mail identity that hadn’t changed for almost nine years.

Relinquishing a domain used primarily for e-mail is lots of work. Besides notifying a couple thousand people of the change, I have to track down every website I ever established a log-in or purchase account and change the identity or default e-mail address—many cases they’re the same. 

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Must Be: Familiar, Approachable, Extending and Better Enough

My prevailing thinking on why high-tech products succeed or fail boils down to four criteria. Editor’s Note 2/8/2014: I expanded the number to eight and wrote book about them: The Principles of Disruptive Design.

A product must:

  1. Build on the familiar
  2. Do what it’s supposed to do really well
  3. Allow people to do something they wished they could do
  4. When displacing something else, offer significantly better experience
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Corporate Blogsite: Marketing Veiled as News

I have been pondering the implications behind Microsoft’s Channel 9 blogsite. The deal: Last week, Microsoft developer evangelists put up Channel 9, which is supposed to provider developers with “a way to listen to the cockpit of Microsoft”. Apparently, the listening includes dispensing Microsoft news and inside views.

The timing is interesting. Channel 9’s official launch occurred during Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional (MVP) event, which makes much sense considering the site is for partners. But the debut also came a couple days before Business Week published a story saying that Microsoft was in the process of trimming next-generation-Windows Longhorn features to make a 2006 ship date. The story also offered up details about other upcoming stops on the Windows roadmap, such as something called Windows XP Premium, which soon will ship on new PCs.