Commercial Business

Do you watch television? Have you seen what’s on the television?

Our family decided we didn’t want to play ball with the local cable company a couple years ago. I personally think that the service they offer is worth about half what we are paying for it.

The problem is they have local consumers over a barrel, most homes, including ours, are situated such as to make satellite service impractical. It’s cable or nothing, even cell service can be sporadic here in the mountains. We had the extended basic plan, no premium channels, with two DVR’s, in order to escape the commercials — our bill kept creeping closer and closer to the $100 mark, when it reached $96.00, we packed it up.

It was actually pretty painless. We used our cable dollars to order Netflix, many television programs are available online totally free. The online news services are found a little wanting, in my opinion, but it’s a relatively new technology, I’m certain it will continue to improve.

I may be the world’s biggest prude but I have a problem with commercials that air during the middle of the afternoon, that make me feel so uncomfortable that I am forced to change the channel, on the program I happen to be watching, and send my son scampering out of the room.

Since my viewing is pretty limited; I stick mainly with news programming, the weather channel and Law and Order; I don’t have to worry too much about offensive programming. Yes, Law and Order can be a little gruesome but that’s easily avoided by not watching the opening scenes.

I find the commercials to be a horrible unwelcome assault on my senses and I don’t plan to just suck it up and deal with it. I’m shopping for a DVR this week. I don’t know how anyone manages to live without a DVR. I simply don’t understand why people put up with these offensive advertising tactics. Can’t we please just squeeze the Charmin?

Google Spinning Up a Storm

What should you expect from a lawyer?

This morning I read a “cute” post from the Google Blog:
Yahoo! and the future of the Internet

Google’s Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, questions Microsofts’ integrity for making a bid for Yahoo!. Of all things, who the heck does he think he’s kidding?

Google has historically bought out dozens – if not hundreds – of companies, and they usually do it ‘cloak and dagger’ without revealing anything publicly, if they can. The SHORT LIST of companies and products Google has bought out includes:

  • Adscape
  • Applied Semantics
  • dMarc Broadcasting
  • Deja’s Usenet archive
  • Dodgeball
  • DoubleClick
  • Feedburner
  • GrandCentral
  • GreenBorder
  • Hello
  • ImageAmerica
  • Jaiku
  • JotSpot
  • Kalrix
  • Keyhole
  • Marratech
  • Measure Map
  • Neotonic
  • Orkut
  • Outride
  • Panoramio
  • PeakStream Technologies
  • Picasa
  • Postini
  • Pyra Labs/Blogger
  • SketchUp
  • Trendalyzer
  • Urchin
  • Where2
  • Writely
  • YouTube
  • Zenter
  • Zingku
  • Zipdash

And there are plenty more. Unfortunately, the list of Google Acquisitions can never be complete, because they do their best to prevent public disclosure of each transaction, at least until it’s a done deal.

What a load!

And while that really touches a nerve, what really gets me upset is the implications made by Mr. Drummond:

The openness of the Internet is what made Google — and Yahoo! — possible. A good idea that users find useful spreads quickly. Businesses can be created around the idea. Users benefit from constant innovation. It’s what makes the Internet such an exciting place.

So Microsoft’s hostile bid for Yahoo! raises troubling questions. This is about more than simply a financial transaction, one company taking over another. It’s about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation.

So Microsoft is “bad” because they use closed source? I don’t recall Google giving source-level access to their major projects, either. Maybe I missed the memo, but when was Google giving away the source to AdWords, Google Search or direct data access to their extensive data stores? When did Google decide to open their algorithm and publish the specifics?

Oh that’s right. They didn’t.

The difference between a desktop operating system (Windows) or desktop application (Office), versus an internet service (Google Search, Google Apps) is significant. The users of Word and Excel, or any other desktop application – whether it’s open or closed source, can determine how the application functions and engineer their own imitation of it. Microsoft even spearheaded the .net language system which uses an easily reversible language construct – specifically for the purpose of interoperability and openness.

What has Google done lately? They’ve offered more and more means of accessing everyone elses information – often by buying out someone elses development projects, but have made no effort to publish their own source code.

If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black.

What really interests Google?

One of the most telling historical acts is Google purchasing a 5% stake in AOL! America Online! Apparently it’s okay for Google to invest in every media company (even those that are SO closed source they can’t even discern what the “real” internet is!), buy out the rest, and “spin tales” about their opposition. “Do no evil,” my @$%.

Are We All Geeks?

Are We All Becoming Geeks?

Are We All Becoming Geeks? The results of a technologically dependent society

Chattanooga, TN — There was a time when admitting to being a science fiction fan was tantamount to saying you were socially inept, with acne, no friends and zero personality. However with TV shows such as NBC’s "Heroes," "Lost" on ABC and even Sci-Fi Channel’s "Battlestar Galactica" pulling in massive viewing figures on cable, it seems that the science fiction is now very much in the mainstream.

We have all become geeks. It’s no use trying to argue that you haven’t. The moment you put that RAZR onto your belt-loop or in your purse you turned into a real life James T. Kirk or Lieutenant Uhura. Own an ipod? Then you are a slave to high-tech gadgetry. Did you see "The New Bionic Woman"? Face it; you’re even watching science fiction on TV. We can’t escape the fact that we live with and rely on science fiction. Like it or not, we are all becoming Trekkies and sci-fi geeks.

"It always amazes me when people tell me they don’t like science fiction," says New York Times bestselling author John Ringo, "I tell them, ‘Oh you don’t? What about the 280 songs you’ve got in that playlist on your cell phone in your pocket!’ We have longer, healthier and more enriched lives than any previous generation" he laughs, "and a lot of these improvements come from sci-fi visionaries. But people still complain and say they aren’t a part of it."

But we are a part of it, or perhaps you prefer to think of it as sci-fi becoming a part of us. It is staggering the number of things we take for granted that people born as recently as our grandparents would have considered the most far-fetched of science fiction pipe-dreams: Digital watches, cell phones, ipods, laptops, Xbox’s, CGI films, the Space Shuttle and Space Station, internet, heart transplants – the list is endless. Yes, believe it or not we live the lives of peoples once only depicted in science fiction books and films.

"Science fiction is about how technology changes society." explains Ringo, author of the new novel "Sister Time," "Anyone working in IT, communications, or electronics is a sci-fi nerd, right? But these people are now the high earners; they are the ones being courted by the advertisers, so in-turn they are a prime target for TV companies and major studios who produce shows and movies they will want to watch – and that in turn changes society."

But it is not just the movies that we watch that is reshaping society. The very fact that there are millions of IT and communications jobs these days also creates changes. As Ringo points out; "In the 1960’s the only people making money out of technical science jobs were the handful of people developing missiles. Today there are millions of people making a living from jobs once thought of as the property of science fiction. Follow the money."

What then of the future, where will science-fiction lead us to next? Our grandparents couldn’t believe it when our parents were holding walkmans, our parents can’t believe we are holding ipods; what will our children, or their children be holding?

"People won’t hold anything," replies Ringo without hesitation, "it will be full-implant. You won’t need to hold anything because you’ll have a tiny chip in your head." It might seem like a crazy notion, but just think how crazy the idea of an ipod would have been 30 years ago.

Stone-age. Bronze-age. Iron-age. The 21st century surely heralds the dawn of… The Geek-Age.

About John Ringo

John Ringo is a nationally recognized best selling author and authority on science fiction. He had visited 23 countries and attended 14 schools by the time he graduated high school, which left him with a wonderful appreciation of the oneness of humanity and a permanent aversion to foreign food.

Ringo studied marine biology until he realized the pay is awful, at which point he turned his attention to database management and it’s associated paychecks. However, fate stepped in and John became a professional science fiction writer, authoring amongst others the New York Times best-selling series "The Posleen Wars." John has also done stints as an op-ed writer for The New York Post and as a guest commentator for Fox News. Having spent his younger years in the 82nd Airborne where he rock-climbed, cave-dived, rappelled, hunted, spear-fished and sailed, he is now content for others to risk their necks, preferring himself to read, write and hang out in cigar bars. His latest novel is "Sister Time" available from December 2007. Visit John Ringo’s website.