Dec 31, 2009

The Dawn of the Rent-It Culture

Not so new after all

Cloud (or application service) computing is a blast from the past; a true everything old is new again phenomenon.

I am what you would call an early adapter, having moved to a remotely-hosted model of application usage where I am basically renting software as opposed to buying it. My cloudy app’s include content management, email, e-mail marketing, accounting, CRM, backup & archiving, and more.

My chronologial age shows when I can harken back to the tipping point days of the microcomputer. Ah, distributed horsepower that knocked down the Berlin Wall of the evil Mainframe World and brought power to the people, right there on the desktop. Each of us was now empowered with our own CPU and hard drive as well as our own licensed copies of commercial software. There you go, Mr Gates, and thank you very much.

Now here we are entering 2010 and a new era of computing. We are now increasingly running software hosted on remote servers and not on our local PCs. Server farms have become so humongous that they’ve sometimes replaced office parks as a primary destroyer of corn pastures. Supposedly, Google’s servers draw more power than every television set in the country.

Wait a minute here: centralized servers owned by mega corporate behemoths acting as the new model of application deployment? Yes sir: it’s 1970 all over again! Crank up Grand Funk Railroad! Retro processing rules!

Rob Enderle shares these same quasi nostalgic sentiments – and goes on to give a good future-forward analysis here in his recent 2010: The Year and Decade of the Cloud.

While I’m the subject of digital megatrends and the new rent-it culture, another observation: the “streaming” model of digital music distribution seems to have pulled a tortoise vs hare comeback and now appears to be surpassing the “buy it and download it” option. This reminds me of a long-running debate on that very subject I had with some local folks that argued for the “people want to own the music” POV—and were banking their livelihoods on that being the case with a high profile local enterprise that played in that arena with that very business model as their basic assumption. I countered that they were wrong. I believe the stakes were something to the tune of a $100 wager.

Too bad they crashed and burned and are nowhere to be seen…

Dec 21, 2009

An ode to then

A literary break...

Guest Contributor: AKR

(Got one of your own? Send it over. If it's good -- hell, even halfway decent -- we'll throw it on the fire)

Sometimes, in the middle of a gray day in the middle of this gray life, I think about when we were together.

There we all are in a big room. It might be up in the dorm, it might be at the house on Colonial or it might be in one of the joints downtown. It’s noisy and smoky and I’m standing in one corner, surrounded by some of our friends: Jim and Annie, maybe it’s the Chief, Dani and Gunner, or Kim, Pete or Carey. It’s all good, and I’m grinning from ear to ear. Of course I was; I went through that whole time up there smiling from Day One to graduation, basking in the joy of being surrounded by those people I was incredibly happy to be around, day after day after day.

I look across and there you are on the other side, sitting at a table with some of the others: maybe it’s Cammie, Joni or Doc; or Cliffy, JR and Carol. The same thing; everyone is carrying on about the mundane nothingness that was our life, perfectly content to the life in that Great Cocoon, where we weren’t quite kids but at the same time we weren’t quite adults, either. Like Indians consigned to the reservation because there wasn’t anywhere else for us to go, except we knew we’d eventually get kicked off and have to deal with another world and another life. But we had no conception of what it would be like; nor did it ever occur to us that we’d all do it without each other.

Then our eyes meet. You send me your magic: the quick tilt of the head, the kiss and the quick wink. Like you did hundreds of times. As I think back now, I just realized that you always tilted it in one direction; it was always to your right. And I think you always winked with the right eye, too. I can’t remember your first roommate, but I remember that. You never failed; if we weren’t side by side, you’d deliver that magic as only you could.

For right then and there, I was as happy as I ever needed to be. It just took me all this time to realize it. Especially since I never saw you again after I left you behind.

Dec 16, 2009

So why not a Spitzer comeback?

Our former Luv Guv -- aka Client #9 -- is said to be contemplating a return to the Big Circus, most likely a shot at the NYS Comptroller's office. The reaction so far has been predictble: "ya gotta be kidding, right?"

But I would like to offer up a name from the slightly more distant past; that of a man who was convicted of dirty deeds so much more serious than Mr Sptitzer's that he actually served prison time and paid an enormous financial penalty as levied by the court. But after that experience, this individual went on to become a model citizen, creating initiatives that contributed immensely to the public good. That person's name:

Michael Milken

Post-sentence accomplishments: co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, chairman of the Milken Institute (a think tank devoted to policy research on economic development and other issues), and founder of medical philanthropies funding research into melanoma, cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Fortune magazine called him "The Man Who Changed Medicine" for his positive influence on medical research.

So, yes; redemption can sometimes do wonderful things. Maybe we should give it a shot here in the Emopire State. Nothing else seems to be working.

Dec 14, 2009

Now that was a big mistake!

Political theater, rejecting reality and poor scheduling

Just another morning at the Spa'aaaaaa

Does blogging make you a Member of the Press?

If so, where's my press pass for SPAC and track?

Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed in the morning…especially a frigid Saturday morning in December.

But that I did this past weekend, rising out from the sheets without the benefit of an alarm clock and hustling down to the Saratoga Public Library without the benefit of a cup of coffee. Why? To exercise my civic duty and hometown pride, that’s why!

I’m not a morning person to begin with, but I was willing to mess up my weekend to attend a pow wow of the city’s local Democratic party. Given the animosity and interesting personalities that have been involved in the Great Divide which has doomed this organization from electoral success, I figured it would at least be an amusing passion play or maybe even something productive.

The scorecard: amusing=slightly; productive=not even close. Without going into the well-known troubles plaguing this group, let me just quote two popular phrases that apply to the Saratoga Democratic party, to a tee:

“The definition of insanity is repeating the same mistake over & over again and expecting a different result”

“Don’t piss on my leg and then tell me it’s raining.”

But again: it’s shouldn't (and didn’t) surprise me that the group of people currently in charge are hell bent on continuing their relentless drive to making this party politically irrelevant.

No, it was the additional baggage that I seem to have gained from that meeting with that leaves me in this “why did I even bother?” state of mind. For I also am now the proud owner of the following:
· Accusations of being “behind” some of the politically - oriented blogs in the city; which are generally critical of the party’s current leadership. The truth? I am not.

· Accusations of “having an agenda” designed to create a divide within the party that doesn’t really exist. The truth? I don’t need to create a divide; it’s already there in black & white. If someone can’t see it, they need a level of help that I surely can’t deliver.

· At least six phone calls from people that I have never engaged in a previous conversation with, letting me know their opinions of my opinions, as expressed in that public assembly. The pro/con split on that subject is roughly 50/50. My bigger concern is "where the hell did these people get my phone number?"

· At least 10 emails, mostly related to my eyewitness account of a temper-flared encounter between a current city commissioner and a gentleman who apparently has some sort of grudge against him. My take? I’m suddenly told not to comment on this because I might be called into a court of law to officially offer that account, for the public record and under oath. Now isn’t that just wonderful?

· At least 20 emails from various individuals (again: mostly strangers) offering suggestions, advice or pleas on “how to rid the party” of its current leadership; deemed by that group as being the proper course of action. My take? Pick up your swords and get ‘er going.

But, all of this is not my main reason for starting this particular entry. Rather, it is a single incoming email that poses a most interesting question. Here is a partial transcript:

“…As a member of the press, it is your obligation to identify yourself as such. An open floor inviting comments from enrolled voters that are registered Democrats to their party’s chair and executive committee is not the place for a member of the press to rise and speak…”

Now wait a minute here. But first, to be fair: this incoming message did not originate with the party chairman or any member of the executive committee. I don’t believe this is an issue with any of them. But is does create a dilemma for someone, does it not?

This person’s connecting-of-the-dots logic is based on the fact that I publish a blog, the very one you are now reading. It is the only blog that I publish. The reasoning then, is because I publish a blog, well, I am therefore a publisher -- a member of that gosh darn press! And that fact overrides the fact that I am also a registered Democrat with enough concern about the party’s direction that I got out of that warm bed I mentioned and drove downtown to talk things over with a bunch of equally concerned and motivated folks on a wintry Saturday morning. Without any coffee!

I was about to offer up to this person the proper response; you know:

“With today’s communication and internet technologies, with blogs, online ‘zines, Twitter Tweets, social networks and so forth, the truth is …… EVERYONE is a publisher! Blah, blah, blah...

But after thinking about what this person would do with such an explanation, I instead wrote back with the following:

“I would recommend that you bring it up to your party chair at the next meeting.

It’s now Mr Turkheimer’s task of explaining to his constituent how the world works in the new century. I’m told I need to do more of this thing called ‘delegating.’ Poor Al just caught the first whiff of that personal initiative of mine! Sorry, man.

Canada to Uganda: it wasn't us!

Breakthrough on climate change is a hoax

I smell the Yes Men!

For sure: I would bet my bottom dollar (as opposed to my top dollar, I would presume) that our favorite media pranksters are at it again as a series of press releases from various sources claiming to represent the Canadian government have been flying over the internet. Meanwhile, the Ugandan government is looking like the real dummies. Let me explain:

Late this morning, a "major announcement" type of press release from Environment Canada quoted the government's Office of the Minister of the Environment in stating that our northern neighbors would now take the global lead, by means of an "ambitious new emissions-reduction targets and vigorous climate-debt reparations to African nations."

Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice repeated calls to other developed nations to fall in line behind Canada. "The threat to world stability from climate change is too important for short-sighted posturing," said Prentice. "The world's wealthy countries can and must come together behind Canada on this issue of issues."

The Ugandan government VERY quickly issues its own press release, joyfully rejoicing in reaction to the breakthrough news:

"This is a day that will define our century," said Margaret Matembe, MP and head of the Climate Committee of Uganda, an environmental caucus in the Ugandan parliament. "Today, we no longer have to wait for a COP20 or COP100 before the voices of our children are heard."

There's only one problem: Canada never made such an agreement--the press release was a hoax. Those of us familiar with those Yes Men have been down this road before.

The REAL Canadian government is now in full Damage Control mode, saying that "all statements within it are unequivocally false" and that it shall "seek the full measure of legal recourse against these criminals under Danish and international law." What this has to do with the Danes remains a mystery.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan government -- as well as dozens of major media outlets that ran with the story -- are laying low, slamming their heads with giant D'OH's.

If anyone runs across the Yes Men (who have a Troy connection), tell them you just saw a van full of Danes in black suits and sunglasses cruising around the RPI campus and slugging down some cold ones at Brown's Brewing.

Then say "I'm just goofing on you!"

Dec 13, 2009

The power of music

No other art form has the ability that music does to reflect the human experience and touch the human spirit. Never was that fact more obvious to me than it was this weekend.

The setting: a car ride northbound on the NYS Thruway on a dreary and cold late morning. I was returning from a breakfast meeting in Woodstock and my traveling companion was a near-stranger; a professional contact accompanying me in hopes of lending a hand in any future project that could arise from this particular session.

Being in that gap of the Catskills where WDST is lost and the Albany stations don't yet kick in yet, it was time for a CD. I offered up the newest Mountain Goats release, which was greeted with a "never heard of 'em, let's give it a listen."

The track Matthew 25:21 -- a forlorn tribute to a dying cancer victim -- certainly proved my original point, as this woman burst into full-blown tears at its conclsusion. An apology was offered; met with a "none needed."

If you're ever in the mood for a gut wrenching experience, light up a cigarette, start taking sips from a bottle of good scotch, and take a listen yourself to this track. Even if you don't smoke or drink. You'll see exactly what I mean.

Dec 12, 2009

Anyone know anything about...

...electric vehicles?

Cars, motors, engines, battery issues, infrastructure, etc?

Why? I'm in need of a quick-learn in this field of study, given that I am "working on something" that could be of pretty neat interest down the road (when I can actually reveal some secrets).

If so, let me your brain? Shoot me an email:



Dec 10, 2009

Farewell to the 'birds

I must admit: I was never into the Albany Firebirds / indoor football thing all these years. Proof of that is the fact that I never once attended a game, even for the couple years that I kept an office but a few paces from the front door of the Pepsi Arena.

Yet it is with a ceratin degree of sadness to report that the team has ceased operations. Atetndance had steadily declined over the years, and the good citizen/owner Walt Robb is forced to finally stop the bleeding.

Indeed, it has been a pity to watch the death spiral that so many of our local professional teams suffer. The Yankees/Diamond Dogs, the Patroons and now the Firebirds.

The reasons are many, including:

* The rise of Siena and UAlbany as big time and near-big time basketball programs

* Cable television sports programming expansion, bringing just about every major-level contest into viewers' homes as part of various purchase options

* The inability of downtown Albany to reclaim the type of buzz it had for a brief moment time back in the 80's.

So, it';s fareweel to yet another local franshise. Please get to a River Rats game and show your support for that fine program. It would be a big time shame if they followed the same trend and dispappeared into the archives.

Saturday morning fight club

This weekend's entertainment highlight:

The Saratoga Springs Democratic party will convene Saturday morning at the public libary's meeting room on Putnam Street. Supposedly, a discussion on the party's future direction and leadership will commence.

After some initial discrepancies, I have been told by both the current chairman as well as a vice president that this session is open to all members of the party.

This should be good. Wear a helmet.

Dec 9, 2009

What do you mean by 'optimizing traffic'?

Nobody seemed like they were getting anything done today, if they even showed up for work at all. You'd think these people never dealt with snow before. So it became a day of a long lunch and the incredibly rare afternoon of pitcher-sharing (PBRs yet!) in what you might call a working man's bar on in this wintry wonderland called upstate New York.

My parter in crime was a friend I haven't seen in many eons. He's an old school media guy; specifically a newspaper man, on the editorial side of the operation at his large daily. Having played in that arena myself, the convo naturally drifted into the online/offline journalism discussion.

My friend sure toes the company and industry line: "Google is evil -- it's robbing the news industry blind by using the news links from my paper and every other paper out there to push traffic around," goes his rap. I wager that he just got out of some sort of seminar on that subject.

My retort: "Yeah, but it's pushing all that traff
ic back to your site. The problem you guys have is that you just don;t know what to do with it. You can't blame Google just because they DO know!"

ZOOM -- right over his head.

Dec 8, 2009

How to Hit a Guy When He's Down

It's good to be king; and it's good to have friends. It looks like Uncle Joe has friends.

The Joe Bruno Legal Defense Fund is still up and running, setup by his cronies to shift the legal burden away from the former Senator and to ...well, you and me. Plus anyone that thinks they have a need to be recognized as a Team Player.

(My questions as to whether these funds could/would also be directed to his approaching fines have yet to be answered.)

But, I for one feel that need to assist! Yes sir, I've stepped up to the plate and done my share. Here is my transaction receipt:

"This email confirms that you have donated $0.02 USD to Joe Bruno Legal Defense Fund ( using PayPal."

Confirmation number: 6YF43646NB982801S
Donation amount: $0.02 USD
Total: $0.02 USD
Purpose: Joe Bruno Legal Defense Fund

So, don't anyone say I'm not ready to help.

Q: Knowing PayPal the way I do, guess what?
A: PayPal's transaction fee formula is "30 cents + 2.9%"..rounded up, of course.

So, my hefty donation just cost them 31 cents in fees, netting them NEGATIVE 29 cents!

Now that ain't gonna help much...

Now don't YOU try this at home~!


Dec 7, 2009

Thoughts on the Bruno Guilty x 2 verdicts

"I can't hear you! Nyah nyah, na na! Nope, can't hear you, Judge!"

Let us accept -- for this discussion -- the "being a NYS legislator is a part-time thing, so I have a right to earn a living by also doing something else" argument. My question:

* Why is it that the only 'something else' that Mr Bruno and his cronies are capable of doing is one in which they are "making introductions" related to NYS govt and political business and the exercise of their personal influence within it?"

In other words, why do these people all fail to even attempt making a go in the TRUE private sector? Like fix pinball machines or write diet books or play professional poker or something?

While we're at it:

* Recall a few years back, when the rumblings first started about "maybe we need to look at Mr Bruno's dealings", and a contingent of local (Capital Region) economic development, business and political figures banded together in an effort to get the powers-that-be to more or less look the other way -- for the sole reason that "he's done so much good for this area"?

Sorry: but the 'Yes, he's a crook but at least he's our crook' mentailty doesn't cut it, from this corner at least.

Now, let's hope the Supreme Court upholds the federal "Honest Services" legal concept that prosecuted Mr Bruno. For that is up in the air, with arguments on that very matter set to be argues next week.

Now, wouldn't that be something if.............


Wouldn't you love to have witnessed Eliot Spitzer's reaction to today's jury decision?

Dec 4, 2009

The future's here: now what's the price tag?

Is free the destined internet model?

Here's an interesting Point/Counterpoint on the concept of "free" pricing in the new net economy:

Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail, again made a a nice smash with his book Free: the Future of a Radical Price earlier this year. Here is a good summary version.

The equally primo media hotshot Malcolm Gladwell reviewed his comrade's work with a "not so fast there, Buster" critique, available from the New Yorker here.

Now, wouldn't the two of them make for a great public mano a mano, in the spirit of Buckley vs Vidal? Too bad I can't afford either one, no less both of them.