kottke.org posts about stupid companies

Did you know that you're paying anywhereJul 30 2007

Did you know that you're paying anywhere from $150 to $1000 per megabyte of message data for SMS on your phone?

For the next fours years, any filmNov 19 2006

For the next fours years, any film released by Weinstein Co. will only be available for rental at Blockbuster (and especially not Netflix). What a stupid deal. I wonder what the filmmakers think of this, which will effectively limit the reach of their films (despite the positive spin Blockbuster and the Weinsteins want to put on this).

The story of Friendster's failure. By wayOct 15 2006

The story of Friendster's failure. By way of illustration, the people involved all blame each other for the debacle. I've gotta say, I loved watching Friendster fail...they were the poster child for stupid dot com companies during a time when that crap was all supposed to have been flushed down the toilet. "At MySpace, they rode the wave instead of fighting it [as Friendster did], and encouraged users to do pretty much as they pleased."

US college students won't download music providedJul 06 2006

US college students won't download music provided by their schools even though its free because they can't take it with them after graduation, won't work with Apples, and can't play on iPods. That's not really actually "free" then, is it?

There's a Charles Darwin exhibition at theDec 01 2005

There's a Charles Darwin exhibition at the Natural History Museum in NYC through May 2006. A tidbit not reported in the US press: the exhibition failed to attract corporate sponsorship because "American companies are anxious not to take sides in the heated debate between scientists and fundamentalist Christians over the theory of evolution". Pussies.

Update: This letter sent into TMN throws some doubt on the whole lack of corporate sponsorship angle. (thx, chris)

David Pogue on 10 ways that companies canNov 07 2005

David Pogue on 10 ways that companies can stop being stupid and help their customers. "Thou shalt not hide from thy customers." (via df)

Sony is using DRM on audio CDs (Nov 01 2005

Sony is using DRM on audio CDs (no copying the CD, no iTunes, etc.) to pressure Apple to open up iTunes and the iPod to other formats. This story is so absurd on so many levels that I don't even know where to begin.

Needy softwareOct 31 2005

Found this in my inbox the other day:

From: friendster@mail.friendster.com
Subject: Friendster Misses You
Date: October 30, 2005 11:09:14 AM EST

I guess when your software is social and everyone it used to hang around with spends all their time with other software, it can get a little clingy. Are drunken late-night messages next?

From: friendster@mail.friendster.com
Subject: Friendster Loves You So Much. You Were The Only One Who Really Ever Understood Friendster. Could You Come Over Right Now? Friendster Just Wants To Talk. Why Don't You Want To Talk To Friendster? It'll Be Different This Time, Friendster Promises. Please Call Friendster.
Date: November 23, 2005 02:49:14 AM EST

Book author to her publishing company: your lawsuit is not helping me or my bookOct 20 2005

I got an email this morning from a kottke.org reader, Meghann Marco. She's an author and struggling to get her book out into the hands of people who might be interested in reading it. To that end, she asked her publisher, Simon & Schuster, to put her book up on Google Print so it could be found, and they refused. Now they're suing Google over Google Print, claiming copyright infringement. Meghann is not too happy with this development:

Kinda sucks for me, because not that many people know about my book and this might help them find out about it. I fail to see what the harm is in Google indexing a book and helping people find it. Anyone can read my book for free by going to the library anyway.

In case you guys haven't noticed, books don't have marketing like TV and Movies do. There are no commercials for books, this website isn't produced by my publisher. Books are driven by word of mouth. A book that doesn't get good word of mouth will fail and go out of print.

Personally, I hope that won't happen to my book, but there is a chance that it will. I think the majority of authors would benefit from something like Google Print.

She has also sent a letter of support to Google which includes this great anecdote:

Someone asked me recently, "Meghann, how can you say you don't mind people reading parts of your book for free? What if someone xeroxed your book and was handing it out for free on street corners?"

I replied, "Well, it seems to be working for Jesus."

And here's an excerpt of the email that Meghann sent me (edited very slightly):

I'm a book author. My publisher is suing Google Print and that bothers me. I'd asked for my book to be included, because gosh it's so hard to get people to read a book.

Getting people to read a book is like putting a cat in a box. Especially for someone like me, who was an intern when she got her book deal. It's not like I have money for groceries, let alone a publicist.

I feel like I'm yelling and no one is listening. Being an author can really suck sometimes. For all I know speaking up is going to get me blacklisted and no one will ever want to publish another one of my books again. I hope not though.

[My book is] called 'Field Guide to the Apocalypse' It's very funny and doesn't suck. I worked really hard on it. It would be nice if people read it before it went out of print.

As Tim O'Reilly, Eric Schmidt, and Google have argued, I think these lawsuits against Google are a stupid (and legally untenable) move on the part of the publishing industry. I know a fair number of kottke.org readers have published books...what's your take on the situation? Does Google Print (as well as Amazon "Search Inside the Book" feature) hurt or help you as an author? Do you want your publishing company suing Google on your behalf?

Dave Winer comments on the weblogs.com/Oct 07 2005

Dave Winer comments on the weblogs.com/Verisign deal...odd omission of a link to my post even though he references it several times. Bad luck that I caught him traveling; if I'd realized that beforehand, I would have held off. Dave seems to trust Verisign to do the job; I think Verisign has shown itself to be an untrustworthy, terrible company.

Weblogs.com sold to VerisignOct 06 2005

Boy, the scent of money is in the air these days. The latest report is that Dave Winer has sold weblogs.com to Verisign (~$5 million is the figure being bandied about for $2.3 million). This is an interesting one because it seemed crazy (see below) when I first heard about it, but now that I've heard it from multiple sources, who knows?

Verisign is interested in blogs and RSS (another of their acquisitions in this space will be announced soon) and it's not hard to see why Dave would sell weblogs.com (the site needs some firm financial backing to keep from buckling under the ever-increasing strain of all those pings), but to Verisign? To me, Verisign embodies the idiocy and ineptitude of the BigCos Dave often rails against...the BigCo to end all BigCos. If true, those are some odd bedfellows indeed.

Update: Silicon Beat says they have confirmation that Verisign bought weblogs.com:

We're getting confirmation that the rumors about Verisign buying Dave Winer's Weblogs.com are true. The price is $2 million. What Verisign wants with Weblogs is another matter. Weblogs was one of the first, if not the first, centralized ping servers that blogs could use to alert the world to new content.

I like how when a weblog has two independent sources on something, it's a "rumor"...

Update #2: Verisign confirms the purchase.

Weblogs, Inc. bought by AOL? If so,Oct 05 2005

Weblogs, Inc. bought by AOL? If so, this is a perfect match.

TiVo's new OS adds content "protection", whichSep 13 2005

TiVo's new OS adds content "protection", which means if the copyright holder of Seinfeld wants your TiVo to delete the show after a week whether you've watched it or not, that's what it's going to do. I love my TiVo and I'm currently suffering from outrage fatigue, but if the company wants to side with the entertainment industry over its customers and cripple useful features, then it's the last one I'm ever going to own. (via the wax)

Rule #1 at my theoretical future company: don't fire Alan KayJul 22 2005

Rule #1 at my theoretical future company: don't fire Alan Kay.

Here's a list of reasons that HollywoodJul 15 2005

Here's a list of reasons that Hollywood is in trouble, with nary a mention of the piracy bogeyman. "These trends do not appear reversible in the short run. It is not just that this year's movies mostly stink."

Greg Allen keeps winning free Diet CokeJul 12 2005

Greg Allen keeps winning free Diet Coke but is having trouble redeeming the prizes. "Coke put me in this situation where I feel like a wronged, government-cheese-stealing welfare queen, whose resentment builds with the fresh taunt of each unredeemable winning lid I find".

Sasha Frere-Jones, the pop critic for theJun 01 2005

Sasha Frere-Jones, the pop critic for the New Yorker, will not review any music "unless I have unlimited access to a portable version of it, renderered in either the CD, MP3 or vinyl format".

Microsoft is sponsoring a short film contestMay 12 2005

Microsoft is sponsoring a short film contest called Thought Thieves about intellectual property theft. And the entry form states: "I will formally license on terms acceptable to Microsoft, all intellectual property rights in my film and agree to waive all moral rights in relation to my film if requested to do so". Heh.

The stupid and ridiculous Broadcast Flag wasMay 09 2005

The stupid and ridiculous Broadcast Flag was struck down in US Appeals Court on Friday. Congratulations to the EFF and Cory on this victory.

A list of US-based spyware companies andMay 05 2005

A list of US-based spyware companies and the investment firms supporting them.

How Sprint PCS loses customersMay 03 2005

How Sprint PCS loses customers. Sprint wanted Cam to sign a 2-year contract just to switch plans, even though he had been a customer of theirs for 7 years. He switched to T-Mobile and got a new phone in the process.

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