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Brier Dudley's Blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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June 28, 2006 3:39 PM

Where's the Fon in Seattle

Posted by Brier Dudley

Fon's free Wi-Fi concept is appealing but its Google-powered map of Seattle hotspots is completely out of whack. Click on the access points that appear and you get addresses from another part of the city.

Any Foneros out there know what's going on? I'd love to hear if folks around here are having luck hosting or using the spots.

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June 28, 2006 3:07 PM

Divorce, Hyderabad-style

Posted by Brier Dudley

Another good reason for Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to give their fortunes to charity, instead of their children: it may prevent their descendents from ending up in court, squabbling over the money.

Just look at what's happening to the estate of a previous World's Richest Man, the Nizam of Hyderabad, whose divorce settlement won't let him sell any of his palaces, according to a story in the Guardian.

Comments | Category: Asia , Entrepreneurs |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 28, 2006 12:06 PM

How to make money on Microsoft stock

Posted by Brier Dudley

A "short strangle," according to Merrill Lynch analyst Kash Rangan. He's neutral on the stock, which he expects will hit $25 if Vista ships in time and $22 if it's delayed past January.

In the meantime, Microsoft investors with a head for numbers and a stomach for options may make money with a short strangle, he said in a research note today. It works like this:

"This short strangle uses Oct. 21, 2006 options since we expect no major catalyst until January 2007. Investors would sell $25.00 call options, and sell $22.50 put options. The combined $1.20 premium provides a 5.2% return (16.5% annualized). This strategy is profitable in the $21.30 to $26.20 range, though we would caution that investors are exposed to losses outside this range."

Or try one of these.

Comments | Category: Microsoft |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 28, 2006 11:38 AM

More from Casuality: No subscriptions, please

Posted by Brier Dudley

"I don't know about you, but I don't want any more subscription services in my life," PopCap Games CEO David Roberts said, during a panel discussion on the state of the casual games industry.

Comments | Category: Games & entertainment |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 28, 2006 11:03 AM

Apple's paranoia

Posted by Brier Dudley

Apple Computer's obsession with secrecy is covered by the Wall Street Journal today. Great anecdotes shed light on why Macs aren't making much headway in big companies.

I wish I'd written that one. A few areas that could stand more exploration:

1.How consumers -- and not just enterprise buyers -- suffer from the secrecy around new products. My sister bought an iPod just before a new model was released. The Apple reps at the University Village store were nice and helpful but didn't warn her that the $300 device she was buying would be obsolete in a few days. Then the company refused to take the "old" device back.

2. Why Apple has so much cachet with the groovy, open computing crowd despite its secretive culture, proprietary software and tendency to retaliate in a nasty way when information is shared in an unauthorized way.

Maybe someone should write a story comparing the culture of Steve Jobs' Apple to that of the Bush administration.

Comments | Category: Apple |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 27, 2006 3:39 PM

News from Casuality games confab: Prepare for ads

Posted by Brier Dudley

Where is RealNetworks, the 100-pound gorilla? At the Casual Games Association's Casuality games conference that started today in Seattle.

But I wonder how long Real will dominate the category after it starts cluttering its games with advertising. Today's big announcement was that Real's going to add streaming video ads -- just like TV ads -- into its online casual games.

Rob Glaser showed how the system now works in the Netherlands: Most of the screen is filled with an ad before the game, then a banner stays across the top of the screen and a thumbnail remains on the right side during play. The big advance though is a new form of interstitial ads that appear between levels. Every time you complete a level, you have to watch a full-screen ad for, say, a new Honda. I didn't see the little "close this ad" button anywhere.

Glaser said Real is trying to figure out the best way to monetize casual games. Another approach may be similar to the way movies are sold to consumers: new releases can be purchased without ads, similar to the way you buy a movie on a DVD, but after a while the games will be offered for free but with ads -- just like old movies that appear on TV.

"This is just a start to learn what models work,'' he said during his keynote.

Glaser also talked up Real's Emerge mobile gaming platform and a deal with Hasbro for online versions classic board games like Monopoly and Scrabble.

The biggest applause came when Glaser said Real is making progress on a plan for sharing its subscription revenue with developers of casual games. He said the plan will be announced within "months."

Glaser kept the crowd waiting in the lobby at Benaroya Hall 20 minutes past his scheduled start time, giving some time to sample the handful of demos.

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June 26, 2006 10:05 AM

More Clix details

Posted by Brier Dudley

I forgot to mention the Clix box.

Normally this would be of no interest, but Microsoft recently let slip an internal video that criticized how the company clutters its packaging while Apple Computer projects a cool, minimalist attitude with its iPod boxes.

Microsoft helped design the Clix packaging, which almost seems like a rebuttal to the video. The white box has almost no text - the front is basically just an image of the device, and a tiny blue Windows "plays for sure" logo that's the only sign of Microsoft's involvement in the project.

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June 26, 2006 9:51 AM

The blogging elite's myopia sways mainstream media

Posted by Brier Dudley

Is this surprising?

The hype generated by the in-crowd of elite tech bloggers can be "profoundly misleading" according to a provocative story today at The Register, which examines how Flickr has been hyped by the Web 2.0 crowd even though other photo sites are more successful.

"Even more intriguingly, mainstream media who rely on the blog 'buzz' for clues are guilty of magnifying, rather than correcting, the distortion. And the more they rely on the tech evangelist buzz, the greater the distortion,'' the article says.

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June 26, 2006 9:51 AM

The big Buffett

Posted by Brier Dudley

Warren Buffett's plans to give most of his fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is just amazing.

It hasn't come up in all the coverage, but it's looking like the foundation will have at least a $100 billion endowment. It already has $29 billion. Bill Gates has pledged his remaining $50 billion or so, and now his pal Buffett's adding $31 billion to the pot.

You can't buy friends like that.

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June 26, 2006 9:51 AM

Today's Clix column

Posted by Brier Dudley

The closest thing so far to a "Microsoft iPod" is the iRiver Clix, a portable media player that Microsoft helped develop over the past six months. I look at that relationship in today's column.

I first learned about the Clix project by reading the blog of Sean Alexander, a former Microsoft PR guy who now works on the Windows team handling digital media projects. He told part of the Clix story on the blog, but Microsoft's involvement and the significance of the partnership seems much deeper than he let on.

One thing that's missing from the column is more perspective from iRiver's U.S. headquarters down the road in Vancouver, Wash. I tried contacting the president there, but we didn't connect before deadline. Alexander told me that the proximity to Vancouver wasn't a big factor, though, because Microsoft was working a lot with iRiver engineers in Korea.

Alexander said they used the same kind of scrum development approach that Microsoft uses for its own projects -- every day the team would meet and go over progress and identify bugs and issues for the engineers to address in the next build. The approach worked -- they finished the device in six months, just in time for the Windows Media Player 11 beta launch last month.

The column isn't a review of the Clix, though perhaps I ought to do that sometime. Cnet and PC World have gushed over the device, and I imagine Microsoft has already sent one to Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal.

First, I'm going to see just how intuitive the tilt-screen interface is, by hooking the Clix up to my daughter's Hello Kitty boombox and seeing if the first-grade set can figure it out.

Comments | Category: Apple , Gadgets & products , Microsoft |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 23, 2006 11:33 AM

Merrill Lynch: Microsoft should buy Yahoo!?

Posted by Brier Dudley

First Wall Street flipped out when Microsoft decided to spend a billion or so fighting Google. Now one analyst is saying Microsoft should spend $44 billion buying Yahoo! or perhaps eBay.

Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post pushed the Yahoo! acquisition in a research note this morning that contributed to YHOO's 2.4 percent gain today.

Yahoo! plus MSN still wouldn't equal Google's market share. But MSN plus eBay's Skype would help Microsoft grab the nascent VoIP market that seems more important than the current Internet advertising bubble. Post doesn't talk much about eBay and instead runs with the idea that ad sales could eclipse Windows.

"Microsoft's goal is to make advertising a significant new revenue stream -- possibly even larger than the
core operating system business (per recent quote from MSN executive in
Mediapost.com)," he wrote. "A potential acquisition would significantly accelerate
Microsoft's efforts in search. A Yahoo!/MSN-Microsoft combination would
have garnered approximately 41% share in the U.S. of search queries and
29% worldwide in April versus Google with 44% and 61% share, respectively."

Here's the meat of Post's note:

Trends support increasing acquisition probability Following on recent press speculation on Microsoft Internet acquisition strategy, we consider that continued query share gains by Google, a growing Internet focus from Microsoft and pressure on large cap. Internet valuations (down 20%+ YTD) support Microsoft's opportunity to make a large cap. Internet acquisition. While Microsoft is likely to wait on an acquisition until the company can evaluate results of their a "go-big" investment in their MSN search platform, Google's ongoing traffic share gains and greater focus on building a software platform (recent spreadsheet launch and Adobe partnership) increase acquisition probability, in our view. We think takeout valuation analysis could begin to support eBay and Yahoo! stock valuations.
Weighing acquisitions versus buybacks Microsoft's $34bn cash balance and roughly $12bn/year cash generation argues for more aggressive share buybacks and/or higher dividend yield from a financial perspective. However, the possible acquisition of Yahoo! would be a strategic positive, in our view. Although likely dilutive to EPS by up to $0.05 in C07E (excluding deal related amortization), we think the strategic value of a deal would far outweigh dilution. A potential acquisition of Yahoo! would reduce the risks and the time horizon for Microsoft to drive market share and profitability of its MSN business unit relative to its internal efforts.
Can Microsoft afford not to take the risk? Worst case, an acquisition of eBay (C-1-9) or Yahoo! (C-2-9) could cost Microsoft $5/share if completely unsuccessful (we could argue increasing Internet investment spending has already impacted MSFT stock by $3-5/share); however, Google's potential encroachment on Microsoft's core software market, using Internet profitability to fund software investment, represents a long-term business risk. An acquisition could instantly vault Microsoft to the leading revenue position on the Internet.
Acquisition economics = potential Yahoo! valuation support Based on acquisition premiums ranging from 30-47%, our analysis suggests that Microsoft can acquire Yahoo! (from $40-45/share) using cash and debt as acquisition currencies and suffer minimal EPS dilution ($0.01-0.04). We estimate the same range of dilution for an eBay acquisition, although acquisition would have less strategic benefits, in our view. Yahoo! seems a better strategic fit based on: 1) Microsoft's search/advertising focus across the PC, mobile devices and video game consoles, 2) natural ad platform and cost synergies and 3) elimination of a top competitor.

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June 23, 2006 11:08 AM

Samsung Origami device compared to first iPod

Posted by Brier Dudley

"Like the first-generation iPod, Samsung's Q1 is an expensive bragging tool. Unlike Apple's gadget, the UMPC simply isn't ready for primetime, even if the price comes down,'' UK tech pub The Register concluded in a thoughtful review of Samsung's Q1 Ultra-Mobile PC.

The Q1 isn't ready for most consumers, the review says. Nor will the device work for business laptop users who "are not impressed by the wee tablet -- it's too fiddly to get real work done quickly."

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June 23, 2006 10:53 AM

More Microsoft introspection

Posted by Brier Dudley

Angst-ridden blog entries seem to be all the rage in Redmond nowadays. It's not as sweeping as Phillip Su's famed "Broken Windows" critique, but Charlie Owen's response to the Gates news shows how personally some 'softies are taking the turmoil.

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June 23, 2006 10:05 AM

Sherlund blames Vista and Xbox, not Google, for MSFT woe

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft's higher than expected costs this year aren't just related to the war with Google, according to a note Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund sent to clients this morning.

Sherlund speculated that Microsoft's earnings are also taking hits from Vista and the "rapid growth" of the "booming" Xbox business.

That said, there "may be a benefit to the stock as investors focus on the growth opportunity in the
software as a service/ad based business model."

Vista isn't likely to be broadly available until the end of March or early April, he said. The confusion about Microsoft's earnings clears up a bit when you substitute high-margin Windows sales for low-margin Xbox sales in the upcoming quarters.

"We had previously assumed a delay until March for the launch of Vista versus the announced January date (which had earlier slipped from October)," he wrote. "We have now backed out one month further until the end of March or early April, effectively backing out all of the remaining Vista revenues from the March 2007 quarter."

The good news? The suspense will end someday. "At this point, we believe a Vista delay is widely expected, so getting this out of the way might actually be a positive,'' he wrote.

Sherlund also predicted that Xbox 360 will trounce Sony's PlayStation 3 in the current console cycle lasting five to six years. The Xbox business will be profitable by 2008 and start improving Microsoft's overall margins in 2009.

That's a mixed bag. Xbox "may be a much bigger part of the damper on earnings in fiscal 2007 than was realized on the April call given the increased mix of this currently unprofitable business. Second, investors have questioned whether the success of Xbox would hurt margins at Microsoft. The answer seems to be yes, but with most of the impact in fiscal 2007 and 2008. The impact should diminish later in the cycle as the cost structure improves and the highly profitable games business ramps up, leading to improving margins."

For Microsoft's upcoming 2007 fiscal year, Sherlund lowered his total earnings per share estimate by one cent, to $1.41. He lowered his third quarter 2007 estimate by a nickel per share, but adjusted other quarters up by a few cents each.

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June 21, 2006 3:41 PM

Journalists sparring over another Gates story

Posted by Brier Dudley

There's a minor dustup over similarities between the current BusinessWeek cover and headline and a remarkably similar treatment by the Seattle Weekly last July.

After the Weekly's protest was flagged at Romenesko -- the Slashdot for journalists -- BusinessWeek's editor cleared it up with this note.

It has to double BusinessWeek's pain, after going to press with a big story on Gates' philanthropy just before his big announcement. The story was otherwise timed perfectly -- it outlines one of the biggest challenges that Gates is taking on, education reform, and examines his mixed results so far in this area.

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June 21, 2006 2:58 PM

Any good IT shops in the Northwest?

Posted by Brier Dudley

What gives with Computerworld's ranking of the "Best Places to Work in IT" -- not a single company in Washington, Oregon or Idaho made the list.

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June 21, 2006 2:46 PM

Microsoft's latest goal for India dev center

Posted by Brier Dudley

The India Development Center's goal starting in July: 100 patents a year, according to this interview with Managing Director Srini Koppolu.

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June 21, 2006 1:36 PM

Time to get the facts on Martin Taylor

Posted by Brier Dudley

I've talked to Martin Taylor several times in the past few years. He has a great personal story -- the son of a Baptist minister and civil rights activist, who named him after Martin Luther King Jr. -- and he had an amazing career trajectory.

I hope that his sudden ejection from Microsoft wasn't because of anything unpleasant. Either way the company owes the public a better explanation of why it abruptly let go one of its most prominent evangelists.

On a positive note, Ben Romano's report on Taylor's departure finally displaced Saturday's wire story about a topless Texas teacher as the most-read story at seattletimes.com.

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June 21, 2006 1:03 PM

Backstage at the Opera performance

Posted by Brier Dudley

Whose idea was it to have Opera launch its new browser in Seattle? Credit goes to a Northwest guy working at the Oslo-based software company -- desktop marketing manager, Benjamin Jacobsen, a University of Washington graduate whose parents live in Portland.

Opera had a demo glitch when the network it was using bogged down and a game widget failed to load. I'm not an expert on these things, but I think I saw the problem unfold.

Just before the problems began, one of the tech bloggers that Opera invited to the show started uploading a video he'd just taken of the press conference onto YouTube. I was sitting right behind him and saw the loading progress bar start and slowly, slowly advance -- just as Opera's chief standards officer, Charles McCathieNevile, began having difficulties up at the podium.

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June 21, 2006 12:36 PM

Texan crabby about Bill Gates news play

Posted by Brier Dudley

A Dallas columnist spanked her newspaper for the way it played the Bill Gates career change story -- it was bumped off the front page by a story about Whole Foods' decision to stop selling live crab and lobster.

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June 15, 2006 3:04 PM

What do you think about Bill Gates stepping down?

Posted by Brier Dudley

I'd love to hear what you think about Bill's career change. How will it affect Microsoft and the region? Click on the comments link below to post your thoughts, and we'll figure out a good way to present them.

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June 15, 2006 1:45 PM

Big changes at top of Microsoft

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft said today that Bill Gates is stepping out of his role as chief software architect to spend more time with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, beginning a two-year transition plan.

Ray Ozzie will become chief software architect immediately.

"The change we're announcing today is not a retirement," Gates said. "It's a reordering of my priorities."

Gates also praised Steve Ballmer's performance as chief executive.

This transition looks like something I talked about in the first column I wrote back in April

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June 15, 2006 12:01 PM

Source of buzz about Apple's next iPod

Posted by Brier Dudley

Bloggers are foaming about the "next generation" iPod that Apple is apparently preparing to release. Once again the story began with an old media report: A Bloomberg interview published here in The China Post of Taiwan.

Here's the juicy bit: "Apple is about to unveil the next generation of iPod, the best-selling music player in the U.S., using a "none-touch" concept, (Hon Hai Precision Industry Chairman Terry) Gou said without elaborating."

Voice commands, perhaps?

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June 15, 2006 10:30 AM

Super secret Google plans revealed, last year

Posted by Brier Dudley

Ever heard of a reporter named Kathy Gray? You may soon. She's the one who beat the New York Times to the punch on Google's super double secret plans for a data center in The Dalles.

Here's the Times story on Wednesday about Google's "closely guarded secret."

Here's Gray's story on Google's acquisition plans, which ran in The Dalles Chronicle on Feb. 16, 2005.

Gray's story, by the way, is the first one that appeared when I Googled "Google and The Dalles."

The real story isn't that Google is building in The Dalles; that's old news. It's that small-town public officials were so cowed by the search giant that they agreed to sign confidentiality agreements. Muzzling public officials on sales of public assets seems pretty evilto me.

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June 14, 2006 2:06 PM

Walt leads the pack to another iPod wannabe

Posted by Brier Dudley

Mr. Mossberg panned the MusicGremlin, a handheld music player with built-in WiFi networking. He said the connectivity doesn't work as well as promised, and the $299 price is high for a player with 8 gigabytes of storage. Cnet chimed in with basically the same conclusions.

Both the reviews analyzed the device from an iPod user's perspective. What I'd like to know is how well the device works for streaming music around the home without using a PC.

The wireless home seems like a great opportunity for a wireless portable music player, but this one sounds like another kind of gremlin:


AP

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June 14, 2006 2:04 PM

Patch your Windows quickly

Posted by Brier Dudley

Computerworld says exploits are already circulating for the Windows flaws announced Tuesday.

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June 14, 2006 1:55 PM

Heading to the micropub

Posted by Brier Dudley

Noted blogger-journalist Om Malik is quitting Business 2.0 magazine to start a business in the "micropub" space.

If the Web ever kills off newspapers maybe I'll try opening a micropub, hopefully along the lines of Bert Grant's original place in Yakima or perhaps the Jolly Roger in Ballard.

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June 13, 2006 2:14 PM

A British paper's take on Hitec Hyderabad

Posted by Brier Dudley

A travelogue in The Times in London made me want to visit India again. I think the newspaper photographed the same construction crew I saw working on Microsoft's India Development Center.

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June 13, 2006 11:51 AM

MySpace may hook up with MSN, Google or Yahoo!

Posted by Brier Dudley

MySpace may be shopping for a search partner to monetize its social networking site.

MSN has a good chance of winning this bidding war -- the Microsoft and MySpace seem pretty tight -- but it's a weak consolation prize after losing AOL to Google and eBay to Yahoo! MySpace is popular and reaches a young demographic that advertisers covet, but it's controversial and some believe its popularity is fading.

The news was dropped at an investor conference by Peter Chernin, chief operating officer of News Corp., the giant media company that bought MySpace last year for $580 million.

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June 13, 2006 11:27 AM

Is Google a tech company or not?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Google boss Eric Schmidt's recent interview with the Los Angeles Times fueled some interesting blog chatter about Google's conflicted personality.

In short, Google thinks of itself as a technology company -- it's run by engineers, it sells some technology and plans to sell more -- but it's main business is selling ads.

Henry Blodget said Google can't have it both ways.

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June 13, 2006 11:15 AM

Windows patch time

Posted by Brier Dudley

Today's weather in Seattle is perfect for updating a PC, and Microsoft obliged with its monthly batch up of security patches. Put on a pot of coffee and start downloading. Eight of the 12 patches are rated "critical."

You'd think Microsoft would have this sorted out, but as of 11:20 this morning, if you went to www.microsoft.com/security and clicked on "this month's updates" you'd get information on the May updates, not the June updates released today. To go straight to the June updates, go here.

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June 12, 2006 1:50 PM

Nintendo hacking, anyone?

Posted by Brier Dudley

I'm shopping for remote controls and thinking about a Logitech Harmony, but the new Nintendo DS Lite is pretty nifty. I'm wondering if some clever person will write an application to convert the DS into a dual-screen Wi-Fi remote, after it gets a browser this summer.

There are some cool programs for doing this with other Wi-Fi devices but those gadgets all cost more than twice as much as a DS.

The DS is about $130 at Amazon.com, where it's ranked the No.1 seller in computer and video games.

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June 12, 2006 10:20 AM

So long, Scoble

Posted by Brier Dudley

Anybody who has read Robert Scoble's blog closely over the past six months probably isn't surprised that he's leaving his post as Microsoft's designated blogger.

Scoble raised the profile of blogging at Microsoft and drew the attention of the elite tech blog clique toward Redmond better than any conference, press release or development tool. He was basically evangelizing the Microsoft platform to an online audience, similar to the way he evangelized the Tablet PC at his previous job at NEC.

But he hit rough waters last spring. His perky tone wavered and he veered toward shrill a few times, drawing heat for trashing an Australian journalist. Then he was trashed himself by Amazon.com's chief technical officer. He also seemed burned out by the demands of the blog and a tour to promote his book on blogging.

Finally he took a break and reassessed his priorities. Not long after that, his mother passed away and he wrote a series of poignant entries about his experiences with family back in Montana.

I'll miss reading Scoble's blog. It had a great tone and lots of interesting tidbits. It was also fun to try and read between the lines of his personal observations, looking for the official Microsoft spin.

Fortunately his Sunday sign off included an inadvertant gem (I emphasized the good part):

"Did you not see on Engadget that Microsoft is working on a portable media player? I can't break wind about it, but when Microsoft comes into that market it'll create new opportunities."

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June 12, 2006 9:41 AM

Today's column on safety

Posted by Brier Dudley

To become an official member of the columnist club, I had to write a piece about the dangers of MySpace.com and other social networking sites.

The column only touched on ways that parents can be sure their kids are safe online. We ran another set of tips on Saturday, and I've invited Seattle Police Detective Malinda Wilson to answer questions from readers during a live online Q&A on Wednesday. We're now taking questions for her here.

I'd been thinking about a MySpace column since I saw a couple of MySpace executives on stage with Bill Gates at Microsoft's Mix06 conference a few months ago in Las Vegas. They seemed a little sensitive about the site's raunchy reputation. After they navigated to the site, displaying it on the huge display screens in the meeting hall, the typical revealing images of young women appeared. They quickly scrolled down until the women weren't so prominent.

After doing some reporting on the topic, two things were really surprising to me -- how little parents have engaged, apparently, despite all the publicity around MySpace predators, and how easy it is for a small group of detectives with a modest budget to track down the predators.

I'm not keen on state oversight of the Web, but I'd rather have more tax dollars spent on police chasing pedophiles at MySpace and less spent on questionable security measures like walling the Mexican border and periodically shadowing the ferries to Bainbridge and Bremerton with machine gun boats.

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June 9, 2006 11:17 AM

MSDN getting wiki

Posted by Brier Dudley

In search of a new way to produce documentation for developers, Microsoft developer boss S. Somasegar on Thursday announced the MSDN Wiki.

Developers may add code samples and content to Microsoft's programming tools documentation. They can also edit content submitted by others.

If it works, maybe Microsoft will use the wiki approach to straighten out the buggy documentation it provided under its antitrust decrees.

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June 9, 2006 10:53 AM

Opera ahoy, or is it the Loch Union Monster?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Norwegian browser maker Opera is planning to make a splash in Seattle, where its chief executive will make some sort of big announcement on June 20.

Opera's having some fun with its archrival in Redmond. The location -- on Lake Union -- also continues the nautical theme of Opera's press stunts.

A spokeswoman wouldn't give more details, but I'm guessing the topics may include the launch of Opera 9, a new version of its flagship browser now in test. The company may also talk about the browser its providing to another Seattle-area company, Nintendo, for the DS player and upcoming Wii console. Opera's been coy about the Nintendo browser launch, saying only that it will be available this summer in Japan.

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June 9, 2006 10:49 AM

787 garden art

Posted by Brier Dudley

That faulty fuselage would make an amazing playhouse. How long before it shows up at the Boeing surplus store in Auburn?

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June 7, 2006 11:48 AM

A peek into Google's Gsheets

Posted by Brier Dudley

I finally got into Google's new online spreadsheet service today. It has a nice, simple interface and a great drop-down formula menu, but the nifty stuff is the ability to share a worksheet. (A word of advice to those wanting to participate in the beta: Sign up with your Gmail account.)

The sharing stuff makes me think that the intitial press reaction is a little off -- the real threat to Microsoft isn't an online alternative to Excel. The competition to watch is online collaboration using hosted services.

Microsoft has interesting products in that space - namely Sharepoint and Groove - but it doesn't have a lock on the market the way it does with traditional productivity applications like spreadsheets.

I wish I'd thought of that yesterday, when I was doing a KUOW show (with some other technology reporter) on the Google and Microsoft rivalry.

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June 7, 2006 11:37 AM

Blue chip marketers join Seattle techs

Posted by Brier Dudley

Is it a trend? Two Seattle tech companies separately announced that they've hired marketing executives from old-line, non-tech companies.

Trumba today announced that Bruce Allenbaugh, former senior marketing VP at Safeco, was hired as SVP of marketing and business development. He's actually been in tech before, at Avenue A and Nextlink Communications, and before that was at Pepsi.

Yesterday Microsoft announced that it hired Jeff Bell, vice president of Chrysler product strategy at DaimlerChrysler, to lead global marketing for its interactive entertainment business. Bell led the Hemi campaign and Dodge's "grab life by the horns" tagline launch.

So watch for Xbox Live ads to go macho, and Trumba's name to appear on a stadium.

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June 7, 2006 11:29 AM

Oprah's tech tips

Posted by Brier Dudley

Immediately remove all webcams from the rooms of children, since the devices are primarily used for online sex, according to New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald.

Eichenwald was on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Tuesday, along with a boy victimized by online sexual predators, discussing the horrifying story he reported last December.

Comments | Category: Security & privacy |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 5, 2006 5:20 PM

Google Office 2007 System coming together?

Posted by Brier Dudley

First came the Gmail e-mail service, then came word processing and a calendar. Now Google's adding a spreadsheet to its suite of productivity tools, according to several reports trickling out this afternoon.

Bundle the applications with Picasa, which has tools for preparing slide decks, and you're on the way to Google Standard Edition 2003.

Comments | Category: Google , Microsoft |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 5, 2006 12:40 PM

Getty selling Angelina baby pics

Posted by Brier Dudley

Weird Seattle tech news of the day: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt will sell photos of their baby through Getty Images. Now Getty really is in the center of the universe.

Comments | Category: Digital media |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 5, 2006 10:45 AM

Mac advice sought

Posted by Brier Dudley

A person asked an interesting question this morning -- if a Mac user is going to use third-party security software, which is best? Any suggestions?

At Apple.com, several Norton products are for sale, along with Intego Virus Barrier.

I also found a footnote that I would have mentioned in the column, if I'd seen it earlier. In small type, at the very bottom of a page talking up Mac security, it says: "A Mac running with factory settings will protect you from viruses much better than a PC, but it's never a bad idea to run extra virus and security software."

Comments | Category: Apple |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 5, 2006 9:48 AM

Mac attack

Posted by Brier Dudley

It's official. I'm a "PC weenie" and a moron, according to the e-mail I received on today's column about the current Mac ads. At least one person agreed with me that Mac users should perhaps think more about security.

Actually, my first computer was a Mac and I used to be one of the zealots. I worked on my college newspaper during its transition to a Mac desktop publishing system that I trained people to use. I was so into it, I went to work for a dekstop publishing outfit after graduation, before finding my way back to journalism.

Maybe next week I'll write about something less controversial, like school closures or reproductive rights.

Comments | Category: Apple |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 2, 2006 4:02 PM

Microsoft's three pointer in the Journal

Posted by Brier Dudley

Odd story today in the Wall Street Journal about Microsoft and Adobe haggling over the "save to PDF" feature in Office 2007. If you'd like to read more about how Microsoft is only trying to add a neat feature that's already available on the Mac, check out this press release from last October.

It's not surprising that Microsoft and Adobe are fighting, and the PDF feature in Office is probably just the tip of the iceberg. The story didn't mention that Microsoft is going after Adobe with a new PDF-killer document format and Web development tools targeting Adobe products like Flash.

Is everybody negotiating through the press nowadays?

Comments | Category: Microsoft |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 1, 2006 10:43 AM

Look out iTunes? Ex-Microsofties building iJam

Posted by Brier Dudley

Former MSN portal boss Hadi Partovi and his brother, Ali Partovi, are starting an online music service temporarily called iJam. In an announcement yesterday to friends, they called the Seattle-based venture "a new consumer service for the iPod/MySpace generation."

Among the key players with Microsoft backgrounds are software architect Nat Brown and Steve Rider, who worked with Partovi to build the Start.com portal now branded as Live.com. Also crossing the lake was Eugene Zarakhovsky from MSN Entertainment.

The new company builds upon services previously developed by Ali Partovi, including garageband.com, gcast.com and gpal services. Before that, he co-founded Web site promotion company LinkExchange, which was sold to Microsoft in 1998.

Hadi Partovi was involved in Microsoft's browser war with Netscape Communications in the 1990s, then left in 1999 to start Tellme Networks in San Francisco. He came back to MSN in 2002, then resigned in October to start his own venture.

Despite its Microsoft pedigree, the company is recruiting engineers with Macintosh and Flash expertise.

Comments | Category: Digital media , Microsoft |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.