Friday, January 28, 2005


Over a dozen companies get money for each DVD player produced.
Various licensing fees add up to over $20 in royalties for a $200 DVD player, and about $0.20 per disc.
The price of the DVD player hardware has fallen well below $200, yet the cost of intellectual property likely hasn't gone down as fast. In the PC world, the share of the IP cost — the portion that goes to Microsoft for the Windows license — also rises with time.

Is it the right model for the intellectual property? It seems that the problem with this system is that it disproportionately rewards established players. Can a more liquid market exist for IP contributions, where technical merit plays more role, and politics — less?

A metastandard would allow interoperability without limiting competition for the core licensing revenue. This is possible with software. We'll see what happens to MPEG-4.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

chef's choice computing

Computer product specs are confusing. All this Megahertz, Gigahertz, Gigabytes, Megabytes, AMD PR, fps... Benchmark numbers, model numbers — do they mean anything?

All this can be simplified and converted into one number, expressed in $/hr. You should buy Model 25 if you value your time at $25/hr, and Model 50 — if you value your time at $50/hr. The optimal configuration is then selected for you based on economic factors: the current market prices of components, and the cost of time you are expected to waste waiting for the computer to respond.

The system makes computer buying a breeze. It's like chef's choice sushi — you accept that the person selling is more knowledgeable than the person buying.

Ordering a Model 100 doesn't mean that you are earning $200k — it just proves that you are a technology connoisseur. And you can get a Model 0 — it is an empty box.


Douglas Engelbart classifies organizational activities:
A-B-C's of bootstrapping. Any organization's stock in trade is called here an A-activity; its ordinary R&D work to improve on A is called a B-activity. The bootstrapping strategy serves to improve on B and is called a C-activity. The value of C may be perceived as garnering compound interest on an organization's intellectual capital.
Blogging is not an A-activitiy, so it must be a B-activity. Developing blogging software is therefore a C-activity. But what do you call the activity of creating tools — databases or programming languages — that improve C?

Monday, January 24, 2005

archival computing

How do I write a program that's still runnable in 100 years? The concern is not preserving the media -- the code can survive on a piece of archival paper, if necessary. But will the platform be around? Would the translator and APIs exist? Should I include source code, or supply a binary and hope that emulators for Win32 are going to survive until the twenty-second century?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

happily ever after

Do you enjoy fairy tales? Do you like typography? Here's a historic tale and a historic tale construction kit.


Here are some soundbites from the Soviet history — speeches of leaders and announcements of major events. Visual images of Lenin and Stalin are well-known, but the voices were not part of the mainstream propaganda. I would expect Lenin to have a more powerful voice -- he sounds more like my idea of Dzerzhinsky. Trotsky is the best speaker. (via lesoto)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

will to live

In this photo released by Durban Bridge, tsunami survivor Acehnese Rizal Shahputra stands on the tree branches and waves to a cargo ship after being spotted by the crew of a container vessel in the Indian Ocean, 100 nautical miles (160 kilometers) from the shores of Aceh province Monday, Jan. 3, 2005. (AP Photo/Huang Wen Feng)