Hotel California

I recently bought a set of wireless handsets that include a digital answering machine, so I figured I should be economical and cancel my voicemail. This is the internet age, so I pay my bills and manage my phone account online. Go to my account page, a little hunting, and there’s all the options available for voice mail.

You can check in any time you like...

Note that the check mark next to voicemail service is grayed out! You can add services via the web interface, but you can’t remove them! I’d switch to the other phone company, but there isn’t one. All I’ve got is the cable company, and they recently shut off my internet for a week, which put somewhat of a crimp in my working-from-home (became working-from-cafe).

More Googlesoft

GooglesoftMore great news from the G-Men and G-Girls down in Mountain View – social networking goodness is now available from Google, in the form of Google Buzz.

Since their first attempt at a standalone social network, Orkut, never achieved escape velocity (exceto no Brasil!), Google is trying again. Only this time, they are stealing a page from Microsoft and using an existing dominant franchise to force their new offering into the marketplace. Oh, and incidentally crush the incumbents.

The CNET coverage has this perfect sentence:

Google is attempting to do this [compete with Facebook] by taking Gmail, one of its more popular products, and integrating Buzz directly into the Gmail interface.

I mean, the parallel construction just writes itself!

Microsoft is attempting to do this [compete with Netscape] by taking Windows, one of its more popular products, and integrating Internet Explorer directly into the Windows interface.

But Google’s not content to just crush a strong competitor by leveraging their market-leading franchise! Remember, these are the smartest people in technology! Today they also announced they’ll be crushing a few puny start-ups. Fourquare and Gowalla, with all of 200,000 subscribers between them (divide that number into their $20M in combined venture money for a laugh) will henceforth be known as “that thing I tried before Google Buzz for mobile came along”.

(Incidentally, I’m looking forward to the day I receive my last Foursquare-initiated tweet, that charming idea got old incredibly fast. I don’t care if you’re at the 7-11!)

Keep on sucking up all the oxygen in the room G-People, yours is the fire that purifies, that consumes us down to the ashes of our soul and monetizes the dust left behind.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter?

My two favourite things, ArcView 3 and PostGIS, together at last…

Die legacy, die!

‘Tis the season to drive a stake through the heart of old technology apparently. Steve Jobs appears to be taking especial glee in killing off Flash as a video format. And Google is doing their damnedest to run IE6 out of town. It takes a certain amount of self-confidence in yourself to pit your unstoppable force against the immovable object of an entrenched de facto standard, but both Apple and Google seemed positioned to carry it off.

In the case of Google, the sheer number of alternatives, ease of access to those alternatives, and popularity of their products will be enough to pry the final population of IE6 users out of their millennial stupor.

For Jobs, the task requires more balls (right now, his crown jewel iPhone is showing lots of holes in web pages where Flash content should be), but is slightly easier, because he doesn’t have convince millions of users to change their software, he only has to convince a handful of web sites to add an HTML5 option. And the HTML5 standard on video embedding is just close enough to “ready” that those sites (YouTube, vimeo, etc) will begin providing HTML5-based alternatives to browsers that can support them (like, the iPad, and Safari, and the iPhone).

I wish godspeed to both Apple and Google in their endeavors, since both Flash video and IE6 can’t hit the scrapheap soon enough, in my opinion.

Happy Jobsmas Eve!

How does your family mark Jobsmas Eve? Do you sing 1,2,3,4 and dance around your AirPort Extreme router, like my family? Or do you have a more relaxed, modern Jobsmas Eve, and just play networked iPod games together?

While, obviously, I am excited about the approach of Jobsmas, I find the hand-wringing and obsession about the physical shape of the Gift to be a bit over the top.

Possible Representation of the Gift

No matter what, it’s going to be a glass slab about the size of a hard cover book, OK? Does it really matter if the back is silver or black? What gets my Jobsmas noodles in a knot is … what is it going to do???

It’s all about the software, how is this Gift different from the Gifts that have come before? Will the the new feature be something pointless and pretty like “Cover Flow”, or something useful and immediately intuitive like “flick to scroll”? Pointless and pretty would be virtual 3D display via head tracking. Useful and intuitive would be pen-less handwriting.

No matter what, I am looking forward to getting up tomorrow, putting on my black turtleneck and black jeans, and celebrating true spirit of Jobsmas, by oggling the Gift and figuring out how it Changes Everything.