Google Announces Desktop Linux, Down $59

Google announces Desktop Linux, shares down $59 in after-hours.

Coincidence? Unfortunately, yes. Despite the silliness of the idea, and flashbacks to Sergey “We Do Not Compete with Microsoft” Brin, the stock is down because they only made 80% profit growth. Well, more because they missed earnings. So it’s not so much a problem of profits being bad, but of predictions being bad. Who wants to bet that Google has a new CFO tomorrow?

IE7 Tech Preview Available Now!

Get it at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/ie7. This release is primarily intended to help web site designers and extension developers prepare for the broad release of IE7 Beta and RTM in coming months. I have been using IE7 builds exclusively for several months, so it is possible to do this, but we are aware of a number of issues that will need some attention by site owners and developers prior to RTM. Check out IEBlog for more.

Google Collaborationists

I am surprised that no enterprising young reporter has decided to “connect the dots” regarding Google and the “evil Chinese censorship”. The facts are easy enough to verify. Google has one of the highest per-capita concentration of children of Chinese central government officials of any U.S. organization their size. Now, I would not claim that this is a deliberate ploy by Google to get an “in” with the nepotism-prone Chinese market. Nor would I claim that the influence of employees friendly to central government has determined company policy. I personally don’t find the statistic that interesting. But I would expect that a reporter sworn to uphold all that is virtuous to at least explore this.

On the other hand, I want to clear up an unfair criticism of Google. Someone pointed out that you get different results for:

  • http://images.google.com/images?q=tiananmen [google.com]
  • http://images.google.cn/images?q=tiananmen [google.cn]

My first instict, is that the U.S. results are unfair. Tiananmen is like Times Square; millions of people associate the place with happy memories, not tanks. It is only in the west that we associate the name with tanks. The fact that U.S. results show tanks is simply a case of international Google-bombing.

In fact, it turns out that this is exactly the case, and you do not even need to introduce censorship to explain the google.cn results. Try searching google.com [US] for the actual Chinese word: 天安门. You will see much the same results as with google.cn [China]. Now, what happens when you type a word like “Tiananmen” into google.cn, is the Pinyin is *automatically* converted to Chinese, and returns results fo 天安门. This is smart, because most people in China type Chinese using Pinyin input, and this makes it easy for Chinese customers to search for information written in Chinese.

Now, you could argue that the lack of pages written in Chinese which show tanks, is a result of censorship. But that is 99% B.S. I leave that to the reader to think about and confirm.

Disturbing Reality TV

So, today I caught a fragment of a reality show on VH1 which I’ve never seen before. The show is about a bunch of women who compete for a chance to “get with” Flava Flav, apparently. As you can imagine, a woman who’s “big break” is to sleep in a room with a bunch of other women, all competing for pimp daddy Flava Flav’s attention, is not at a good place in her life. These women have some serious issues. They need therapy, not a washed up rapper. Despite (or perhaps because of) their questionable appeal, these women dress as provocatively as possible, and use every trick in the ghetto fabulous playbook (“She doesn’t love you, she just wants to further her modeling career” or “Mrs. Flav, I LOVE your son”).

My first thought was, it’s not ethical to exploit women like this. The producers could use the time and money to teach these women some self respect, and put them on a better path. Then I thought, this really isn’t something we should be showing on TV. “Cops” was cool, because it showed people how dumb criminals can be. But do we really want lots of wanna-be Flavs getting a firsthand example of how exploitable some women are?

Well, it wasn’t long before my drifting thoughts were put on hold, and my attention was drawn again to the show like an 8 year-old boy to the bearded woman at the circus. Flava Flav was taking the whole stable of women to MEET HIS MOM, and AT CHURCH! They have to compete to impress his mom. Flav parades into church wearing his big clock and pimp hat, and the whole stable of women is put on display. They sure don’t seem comfortable. Finally, when the pastor takes a moment to recognize all of the people in the congregation celebrating wedding anniversaries, one of the women breaks down.

Imagine that; take a woman who has serious self-esteem issues and has reached a point in her life where she doesn’t really expect to get anything other than maybe a grab from a pimp rapper who is macking on 8 women at once; and PARADE HAPPY, NORMAL, MARRIED COUPLES IN FRONT OF HER! It’s utterly surreal.

Maybe I’m missing something. I only watched half an episode. But as far as I can tell, this one ranks right up there with bumfights.

No Mr. Ballmer, You Cannot Have the Web

For the past couple of months, I have been heads-down organizing content for MIX06, a new conference to be held approximately 8 weeks from now.

People might have rightly seen some indicators of a larger trend in deals with content owners like MTV, and carriers like Verizon. People might have seen the numbers showing how installed base of Media Centers connected to Cable/Sattelite compares to TiVo. People might have started to realize that there is a vast fabric that can be used to extend web services out to people who might not be sitting at a PC. And people may have begun to grasp the way that gadgets platforms create opportunity and level the playing field.

But I don’t think many people realize all the ways that they can participate in these things. Just like RSS made it possible for everyone to participate in publishing on equal technological footing with NYT, the new networks are creating new opportunities that level the playing field for smaller content and service providers, and create new opportunities for the bigcos.

One thing that will come across loud and clear is that Microsoft isn’t about to 0wn the web. We’re featuring sessions owned by some of the biggest web companies on the planet, many of whom compete with us and use competitor platforms. We’ll be showing lots of Microsoft technologies, but we won’t be shy about showing scenarios where Firefox, Linux, PHP, or similar play a part. We’ll be focusing largely on user experience (which is technology agnostic), and specifically on what attendees can do today to get business value from the new models and technologies on the web.

Is this the kind of competition that Microsoft can win? As I opined before, this isn’t a “winner takes all” situation. We believe that we have a lot of strengths compared to companies where we directly compete, and are positioned well within the overall ecosystem. But Yahoo and Google have strengths too. If you want to understand the true lay of this exciting part of the industry — and better how we compare and complement the rest of this industry, MIX06 is the conference for you.

More Blog Censorship in China

Lots of comments about the case of Mr. Zhao’s Spaces blog being shut down. I don’t have any inside information about this one, so my opinion is based on what I can read and gather from public sources. The net, however, is I think people just don’t get it.

First, China and America do not share the same constitutional rights. We have different laws. There is no constitutional right to organize against the government in China. You can get away with all sorts of things in China, but if you organize in any coordinated way to form a political opposition to the communist party, you can expect to get crushed. You don’t even have to oppose them; you just have to be threatening enough. This is why Falun Gong was crushed, and why any other large political group marching to a different drummer will get crushed.

Second, the government is still the “people’s” government. When citizens sue the government and win large settlements, the government listens and changes. When people work through the established corruption networks, the government is influenced. When peasants in Fujian riot, the government listens. Well, sometimes they shoot the peasants, but the army commander ordering the shooting loses his job.

However, when elite intellectuals employed by foreigners riot, the ruling party is not so charitable. Now, I am just pointing out that China has a different system; not trying to defend it. The important point, however, is: “What did those journalists expect?”.

The way I see it, the ruling party took power through a revolution, and they aren’t about to let any more revolutions happen. Political change in China is very gradual and controlled. If someone is trying to get a freedom of political speech law passed in China, that’s nice. But if they have foreign influences and are not working through normal party channels, I want to get as far away from them as possible. Taking on the party is sheer insanity; the party always wins. Like it or not, that’s the way it works, and the only thing I find strange is that Americans still don’t get it.

Now, as far as I can tell, Mr. Zhao already knew that spaces was censoring certain words banned in China. So he can’t be surprised that spaces complies with the Beijing laws. Why on earth would we want to ensnare ourselves in a fight with Chinese government about Chinese constitutional rights? Let them work it out through their own political process, and leave us out of it.

Also as far as I can tell, he was getting payed by New York Times. Why didn’t he run his blog on their infrastructure? If he was so confident his political commentary was innocuous, why not expose his own company to the risk? It sure is convenient that NYT can now run stories about how American companies are playing Quisling to Chinese censorship, and come off as bastions of freedom themselves. Ask yourselves why NYT is not running anti-Beijing rhetoric from their Bejing fact-checkers right now. Could it be that they already self-censor, because they don’t want their employees to end up in jail? Could it be that Zhao posted to spaces because he knew that NYT would never run his comments? The hypocrisy is clear.