Google assumes no responsibility for any pet: growling, barking, chasing, or biting

October 13th, 2004 § 0

I have a soft spot for our canine friends and all matters dog. My middle sister shares the interest and I couldn’t resist pointing out this fabulous description of a pet policy at Google. Read the whole thing. It jumps back and forth between passive and active voice, officiousness and friendliness. It’s as if a committee of six alternated at the keyboard as they wrote policy. It could serve as a parody if it weren’t deadly serious.

Google Investor Relations:
Aggressive behavior, such as growling, barking, chasing, or biting, is unacceptable….Employees are financially responsible for any damage or cleaning to Google facilities…. Owners must maintain adequate liability insurance against dog mishaps. Google assumes no responsibility for any pet. Following these guidelines mentioned above should allow dog owners to enjoy the company of their pets while allowing all Google employees to feel safe and secure in their work place.

One leaves the policy paper with visions of a third-rate horror film Attack of the Killer Dogs where the Google IPO is shredded in the end by a pack of fierce canines ganging up on the humans and computers and chasing them up and down the corridors, GROWLING, BARKING, CHASING and BITING.

Toronto Mortgages

September 12th, 2004 § 0

Toronto mortgages. Done. Old mortgages gone.

Tim Berners-Lee on wealth and values

September 10th, 2004 § 0

“People have sometimes asked me whether I am upset that I have not made a lot of money from the Web. In fact, I made some quite conscious decisions about which way to take my life. These I would not change – though I am making no comment on what I might do in the future. What does distress me, though, is how important a question it seems to be to some. This happens mostly in America, not Europe. What is maddening is the terrible notion that a person’s value depends on how important and financially successful they are, and that that is measured in terms of money. That suggests disrespect for the researchers across the globe developing ideas for the next leaps in science and technology. Core in my upbringing was a value system that put monetary gain well in its place, behind things like doing what I really want to do. To use net worth as a criterion by which to judge people is to set our children’s sights on cash rather than on things that will actually make them happy.”

major record labels world’s biggest pirates

July 3rd, 2004 § 1

Macbidouille, a superb French language Apple information site, has published the following letter from a record producer in France – after confirming the facts.

Apparently download royalties are for them and not for others.

I am the co-director of 5 titles on the next album of [a French artist] that is to be released in october. The artistic director has a contract with the le producer (the major) for arranging, orchestrating, and artistically direct and supervise an artist’s recordings for a determined amount of titles, as seen in the contract. According to the contrat, the client (the major) gives money to the producers as a fee on every CD sold. About that project, as paying online music dowload sites such as the iTMS had appeared, I dared asking [the major] how much I’d get for those titles from this album sold on such a site.

The enclosed mail answered quite frankly : NO FEE for me on donwloads. Which simply means [the major] will perceive the rights paid by Apple yet refuses to give any part of those to the artists, directors and other rights owners.Which is perfectly illegal. [Major] states that the contracts between us talk of a “support” such as a CD, cassette, vinyl etc., yet for downloads, there is no support, so no reason we are given anything.

Yet, [the major] is negociating with Apple about how much fee they’ll perceive on any download made of the works we’ve created for them. My opinion is, and many artists and directors agree, this is a widescale and more insidious piracy than any other.

I’ve been doing that job for over 40 years and as a mixer or a director I took part in over 40,000,000 sold disks, yet I do not even own my flat.)

Personally, I buy many records from independent artists these days but will do my best to avoid giving my money to major record labels as so little of the money goes to the artist.

Who’s the real pirate here – the major record labels.

client relations | truth in advertising

June 4th, 2004 § 0

The first day of each class, I’d make the students recite, “Never give the clients what they ask for.” After everyone finished laughing, I’d explain that we’re supposed to be the experts on presentation. Although clients usually don’t know how to light a shot or cut a montage, they are the ultimate experts on what they want to say and on what rubs them the wrong way. So there’s a second half to that mantra: “Always give the clients what they want.” Inevitably, what they want is excellence, even if they don’t know how to ask for it.

Absolutely true. Well said, Jay Rose. From the latest issue of DV.COM (free registration required).

He goes on to add this bit of wisdom:

But I’ve always believed the key to success in this or any business is to give the client a reason to choose you.

It can be a low price, but if we’re all competing on price, then budgets start dropping and nobody wins. It makes more sense to compete by being better at some aspect of the work than anybody else in your market.

There is a general tendency now for all clients across the board to demand prices which will not generate a living wage for all concerned. And quality drops further and further.

In North America, no one particularly seems to care. The average daily aesthetic experience for a North American is a horror show.

The day begins with radio announcers literally screaming in your ear. Along with their advertisers.

It continues with hideous print billboards and wretched above ground wiring in ugly neighbourhoods (except for a privileged few) as they drive to work.

The day is passed under florescent lights in stale air in an office tower or a mall office or a strip mall, surrounded by horrid furniture chosen for its pallid colour scheme.

Lunch is synthetic fast food of some kind or another. Even the health food eater must contend with the fruit from the local supermarket that is bright, red and utterly tasteless, .

If our denizen of every day is lucky enough to pass by the bar on the way home, he or she is likely to find a tv blaring in one corner, a bland wall to wall carpet and advertising on all the walls.

The drive home is more of the same overcranked radio announcers and ugly advertising unless it’s after dark. Nobody in the house has the strength for cooking by the time all are home from extended work days so heaven only knows what they eat.

Evening television is now one third advertising – almost all of it ugly, glarish and blaring – enough to stupefy a hundred caged monkeys in an hour.

Is it any wonder the clients are asking for the wrong thing?

And so the downward cycle continues.

microsoft wins again, EU loses

March 27th, 2004 § 0

Wait a minute, I can hear you saying after reading this headline. The EU has just fined Microsoft 500 milllion euros and has demanded that they open certain API’s to other software makeres. Actually the monetary fine is negligeable. Microsoft scoffs back $32 billion per year. This amounts to less than two per cent of annual revenue for a fine which covers almost a decade of miscreance. The equivalent is of a factory owner pouring contaminants into the communal revenue who prefers to pay the small fines and keep doing his dirty business. The only positive aspect of the ruling is that by compelling Microsoft to open up some of these API’s and protocols to other software makers that future predatory practices will be staved off. But those Microsoft apologists who think that Microsoft is finished annihalating competition and trying to control the entire IT sphere are simply wrong. If you don’t believe me, check out what Steve Balmer has to say about search:

people sometimes say Microsoft wants to do it all. This is a case where we actually didn’t do it all. Shoot, I wish we had done it all.

The one sector where they had not eliminated all competition is where they want in now (Google adwords no doubt awoke them to the sad fact that somebody besides themselves were making money in IT). So with this tiny fine, Microsoft wins again, the EU loses and so does humanity. But they must shed crocodile tears and bleat how it hurts. Window dressing and play acting. Pardon the pun. Strangely, the US Department of Justice doesn’t agree with the settlement. One of the largest contributors to Republican coffers, on and off the playing field. Government corruption at the highest level. Anything but protect the interest of the common man or the consumer. The only way for Microsoft not to win is to get their products off your computers. Fortunately, apart from the Microsoft funded SCO suit, Linux really seems to be coming around the corner this time. Imagine a world of secure operating systems, transparent code and reliable operation. And no US governmental security holes to spy on you. That world is here now. Disclaimer: I am writing this epistle on an Apple computer, another American company. Why? I work with video and there is no suitable software – yet – on Linux. So for the moment, I cannot move to Linux myself. From what I can tell, Apple is not working with US security agencies to leave hidden doors into the OS and logging perpetually all of one’s email communication. The day that becomes apparent I will no longer use an Apple computer. And I think Apple knows that a huge proportion of their users would leave the platform in this case.

videogames and violence | sex, promiscuity and idle talk

March 2nd, 2004 § 1

there is a new documentary film making the rounds in sweden called “deadly game”. it suggests that playing video games makes children fat and violent.

some argue that there is insufficient scientific evidence to prove this. like large doses of the more violent shows on american television, certainly it would seem to be the case.

america does have the most violent society among the western nations (often the murder rate is cited as 10 to 1 with most european nations and the US population is the largest consumer of both their own tv shows and video games), so real life would seem to support hypothesis.

yet another reason to restrict the cultural space and tax the hell out of american imports to support european cultural programs. those might promote sex, promiscuity and idle talk.

there are no shortage of neo-conservative pundits to decry such joys as illicit – anything from unproductive to unholy.

vices or not, they certainly beat murder and armed robbery as leisure pursuits.

who wants a bunch of fat, violent and lazy children lurking around?

perhaps the americans. as the last of the actively militarized western nations – the propaganda rains down from hollywood and television as heavily as it did in the soviet union – they must prepare their population for the sacrifices and compromises of war.

once the clones minds accept violence, whipping their bodies into shape is something any second-rate drill sargent can manage.

no wonder the pentagon is subsidising and distributing computer games.

The military is now using the Web and developing games as a way of recruiting and retaining kids. “I do think the point about being motivational is really a very, very relevant one,” says Johnson. ….The real problem for the military, according to Thinking Machines founder Danny Hillis, is not to simulate a tank or airplane, but to train the people’s minds so that when they get into a real tank on a battlefield, they do the right thing.

the right thing.

big brother reaches everyman

February 10th, 2004 § 0

Bambi San Francisco writes on CBS’s marketwatch

For instance, I haven’t joined the Spoke service, yet I became one of the 13 million searchable people in Spoke’s public network.

My profile on Spoke included a resume, notes about me, and a list of people who may know how to contact me….

I’m just not sure how comfortable I am about the way search engines are taking control of our information and becoming the lens through which we see other people, and through which other people see us.

The consequence of it all: There is no privacy left. We’re more accessible. We’re more targeted (Do we really need improved targeting for spam?). The channels to get to us are better defined.

it’s not a good time to be a dissenter