28 Dec

Wharton Brainwashed by Majors

Knowledge@Wharton Online music’s winners and losers
This moronic article takes the current recorded music value chain as a given basically swallowing the whole RIAA party line), without even questioning the 99-cent-a-song pricing. Guys, this is a digital product. We’re talking about moving electrons and bits of content that has for the most part been amortized already. The cost is so low delivery is basically free on a per-song basis. In the face of changing consumer demand, no matter how hard RIAA members try to stick to their cartel solidarity, the same kind of pricing pressure that is destroying the long distance and international phone call troll tax is going to work in the music business as well.

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27 Dec

Jazz Fusion Can Be Soft Too

Bright Size Life, Pat Metheny’s first studio record, is the kind of mellow music you’ll love to listen to with your family for a laid back winter vacation afternoon. As a bonus, Jaco Pastorius is on the bass, and I’ll have to learn more about drummer Bob Moses since he’s doing a fine job too (good drummers can do a lot just with their cymbals).
A funny coincidence is, on this album there’s a cover of a track by Ornette Coleman, whom I just found I needed to investigate, since apart from a couple albums from Dolphy or Coltrane I’ve got almost no free jazz in my collection yet. For a "small world" where all musicians are a couple degrees from each other at most, jazz is really huge!

26 Dec

Proof that Hip Hop Didn’t Die in 1991

I’m at track 5 out of 20 in Aesop Rock’s Float. With about 4,000 albums in my collection I’m starting to develop a decent intuition for good records after listening to just a couple tracks ("wow this sounds different from everything I ever heard" is slightly less ridiculously uninformed than it used to be), and this one is a keeper. Sound a bit like rap that would have been written for the soundtrack of a Peter Greenaway movie, which I realize is an unlikely combination, but then Aesop Rock is unusual.

18 Dec

Google Clutter is Fair Enough

Try this link in 800×600. Depending on how much chrome you’re using you might get less than two full search results above the fold. And this page doesn’t even include Froogle results (it does include news though). I don’t pay attention because I have 8 times that resolution in front of me, and my browser windows are usually sized at 800*1200. I wonder how much web design is a factor leading to people buying bigger or multiple screens and switching to higher resolutions.
I for one know the space I want to search in (e.g. general web, news sources or newsgroups) and I prefer the tabbed/delimited model to the mixed pages they’re experimenting with, but from a marketing perspective it’s fair enough for Google to cross-promote its specialty search engines.

18 Dec

Vonage Tests Softphone

Om Malik: When Vonage goes portable

"[T]he company had developed a Beta version of a "softphone" a piece of software that resides on a PDA (read Pocket PC) or a Laptop and can connect to the internet using a WI-Fi connection. This also comes with its own phone number and can be mapped with your local phone number (assuming that you use Vonage phone service.) A Mac OS-X client is in the works as well and will out fairly soon."

16 Dec

Stat Program to Detect Bioterrorist Threats

Cameron Marlow: Syndromic surveillance

"After 9/11/01, the CDC Division of Public Health Surveillance with help from Homeland Security implemented a new program for tracking possible bioterrorist threats, known as syndromic surveillance. Instead of relying on medical diagnosis of individual doctors, the system looks for statistical anomalies across the symptoms reported in recent emergency room visits and notifies epidemiologists when attention is needed. Doctors tend to use the Occam’s Razor approach to diagnosis, assuming that common illnesses are the cause for most medical visits; without any awareness of hospital- or city-wide statistics, a bioterrorist assault could go undetected for weeks until initial cases had progressed into more severe symptoms."

09 Dec

It’s Not Enough to Know

StrategyPage: Lessons Identified Versus Lessons Learned

"But there are other problems. It’s easier to identify a lesson than to get an organization to act on it and implement a useful solution. For that reason, the British like to use the phrase "lessons identified" to make clear that just noting a problem does not solve it. When you uncover a problem, you are calling into question the wisdom of some earlier decisions. Large organizations do not take kindly to such criticism. Excuses and creative explanations will emerge if a lesson learned threatens some cherished program."

This article looks at the lessons identified after the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, but its point is very relevant to businesses as well. It takes a lot of perseverance to commit changes into the organization’s practice, and many times you see the same flaws and failures from post mortem to post mortem without much if any practical impact. I’d love to find smarter solutions, but I tend to think of it as a war of attrition against inefficiency.