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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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August 28, 2006 4:37 PM

Where's Brier?

Posted by Mark Watanabe

It's been about a week since the last post here, but there's a good reason.

Brier's been -- shall we say? -- busy. He talked about it earlier (second item).

Well, the sporadic posting disorder reached its height this past weekend as he and his family welcomed a new baby. Everyone's doing fine. Congratulations to all!

Comments | Category: Miscellaneous |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 22, 2006 12:26 PM

Zunecast tonight

Posted by Brier Dudley

I'll be yacking about Microsoft's Zune project tonight on KUOW's "The Works" show. Here's a link to the feed, podcast, etc.

Comments | Category: Zune |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 22, 2006 10:42 AM

TV Guide -- an old media victim of the Web?

Posted by Brier Dudley

TV Guide circulation fell 59 percent in the first half of 2006, the biggest drop among top consumer magazines, according to this report.

The way magazine sales are tallied is changing. Their primary auditor has started making a distinction between regular subscriptions and distribution to "public places" such as medical offices.

I wonder if blogs should get similar treatment. Perhaps it's time to focus more on committed subscribers to blogs and online sites, and less on unique visitors, or at least provide both measures of readership.

But what's really amazing is that 3.4 million people still pay TV Guide $2 a week for information that's free online, or bundled with other services.

A lot of people are willing to pay for the convenience of the paper form factor. Or maybe TV Guide's subscription base is an indicator of how many U.S. residents don't use either newspapers or the Web to get their information.

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

August 22, 2006 10:16 AM

Extra-soft dot-com opportunity

Posted by Brier Dudley

Time to start

A new report says toilet paper is by far the No. 1 seller at British retailer Tesco's online grocery.

Specifically, has sold nearly $3.7 million worth of "Luxury Soft Toilet Tissue" 12-packs so far this year, according the report from comScore Networks.

By volume, the top seller is bananas. Tesco customers bought more than 11 million bananas in the first seven months of 2006.

On second thought, maybe this says more about British people than it does about opportunities in e-commerce.

Comments | Category: E-commerce |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 21, 2006 1:49 PM

Google's interest in Safeco tower

Posted by Brier Dudley

There was a pretty subdued reaction to today's column on Google's possible interest in Safeco's office tower.

That could mean I'm onto something sensitive, or completely off base.

The only Google response so far was from spokesman Jon Murchinson, who noted that Google has had a sales office in Seattle since May 2003, before it moved into its Fremont location in May 2006.

For my next story on Google's migration to Washington, perhaps I should try this investigative technique.

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

August 21, 2006 1:43 PM

Melinda Gates quits board

Posted by Brier Dudley

Saving the world is way more important. Gates has been on the board since went public in 1999

"I remain a strong supporter and plan to be a long-term shareholder in the company," she said in a news release.

Taking her seat is Jeffrey Killeen, chief executive of GlobalSpec, an engineering search engine based in Troy, N.Y. Earlier, Killeen was chief executive of, and before that was chief operating officer at

Comments | Category: E-commerce , Microsoft |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 21, 2006 1:08 PM

Microsoft dominates computer history awards

Posted by Brier Dudley

Two of the four Computer History Museum Fellow Awards this year are going to Microsoft researchers Butler Lampson and Sir Anthony Hoare.

The Mountain View, Calif., museum disclosed the winners today when it invited people to attend its Oct. 17 award ceremony.

It's a nice honor, but Lampson and Hoare don't have much more room in their trophy cases. They're the modern computing era's Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Before he joined Microsoft, Lampson was involved in the development of the personal computer, Ethernet local networking and text editors, among other things. In the 1970s Hoare developed "a system of logical rules (now known as 'Hoare's Logic') that any programmer could follow, in the process helping to move the writing of software from a somewhat mystical discipline into a field with solid foundations,'' as the museum's biography put it.

Other winners are Robert Kahn, who designed the Arpanet, the Internet's predecessor; and Marvin Minsky, a pioneering researcher in artificial intelligence.

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

August 17, 2006 12:56 PM

Mac fan's mea culpa

Posted by Brier Dudley

The NYT's David Pogue acknowledged today that he erred in reporting an old and false Mac myth - that IT administrators don't like Macs because they're troublefree and would put them out of work.

His blog today includes strong rebuttals from actual IT people who said that's hooey.

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August 16, 2006 2:20 PM

Outlook brightens for tech spending, Vista uptake

Posted by Brier Dudley

At least that's what Merrill Lynch concluded from its latest CIO survey.

The survey found that 59 percent of CIOs expect to increase spending in the rest of 2006, up from 47 percent who were expecting an increase as of April. Only 2 percent expect a spending slowdown "due to macroeconomic concerns."

CIOs are also warming up to Vista. The survey found 15 percent plan to upgrade to Vista in 2007, up from 8 percent in the April survey. Only 39 percent are waiting for clarity about the product, down from 75 percent in the previous survey.

Some are cooling to Linux. The survey found 48 percent of CIOs expect to increase Linux usage this year, down from 59 percent in April.

The survey involved 100 chief information officers in North America.

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

August 16, 2006 2:02 PM

Washington's business climate

Posted by Brier Dudley

Despite the fretting by some tech executives, Washington state is a pretty good place for businesses, according to a new Forbes report.

Too good, perhaps.

Washington the 12th most business friendly state. It ranked fifth in the categories of "regulatory climate" and "growth prospects."

But it was ranked 41st in "quality of life" based on cost of living, schools, crime, poverty and health statistics.

Yikes. I hope Washington isn't taking on the character of a developing country, one of those places where the government pours investment into a few standout industries and fails to provide adequate schools, healthcare and other basic services.

Virginia was ranked the most business-friendly state. Idaho fared well, placing sixth, while Oregon was 31st.

Comments | Category: Public policy |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 9, 2006 3:15 PM

Bye bye Loudeye

Posted by Brier Dudley

Now that its sale to Nokia is announced, you've got to wonder just how much of Loudeye's May restructuring was just primping the company for a sale.

I'm curious about how the deal will affect Microsoft, which has a longtime relationship with Loudeye.

Why didn't Microsoft buy the company? On the surface it seems like it would have complemented either the MSN or Zune music platforms. Was the price too high, or is Loudeye's stuff too outdated or specialized to fit into Microsoft's grand datacenter plan?

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

August 9, 2006 2:47 PM

Sporadic posting disorder diagnosed

Posted by Brier Dudley

A rare burst of domestic productivity will keep me out of the office for a few weeks in late August and early September.

I'll be posting less frequently, giving you all more time to enjoy the best part of the year in the Northwest.

I may also take a break from the column for a week or two, in which case the paper will run what we call an "alibi."

Alibis don't usually say that columnists are on vacation, because some fear that's an invitation to burglars. Instead they say something like "Columnist Joe Blow is on assignment." My favorite alibi is the one that says "this columnist is off," but it's up to the editors to choose the most appropriate excuse.

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August 9, 2006 2:44 PM

Homeland Security goes code yellow over Microsoft

Posted by Brier Dudley

The feds are weighing on Microsoft's latest security patch for Windows. If you need more prompting to download the fix, here's the Homeland Security press release.

Technorati Profile

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August 9, 2006 2:07 PM

Microsoft and Google, tit for tat

Posted by Brier Dudley

With all the partner-swapping going on between the Internet giants, I hope they are practicing safe service.

First eBay courted the three, then decided in May to use Yahoo! ad services.

Then on Friday word came out via the Wall Street Journal that Microsoft, eBay and others are forming a consortium that will auction TV ad time.

Of course Google announced Monday that it won the bidding to serve ads on MySpace. That had to hurt for Microsoft, which powers the MySpace network and has been making content deals with parent company Fox.

Then Google piled on by announcing another partnership with MTV to provide video download services. Remember that MTV was supposed to be Microsoft's shining hope in the digital music space -- the two are partnering on Urge, an iTunes challenger that will be bundled into Windows Vista.

Maybe MTV felt burned by Microsoft going solo with Zune.

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

August 3, 2006 6:38 PM

Apple woes: Time for fungicide

Posted by Brier Dudley

The recent Mac security vulnerabilities and antitrust concerns about iTunes pale in comparison to the accounting problems that Apple fessed up to this afternoon.

Apple warned investors that earnings back to 2002 may be restated and said an outside lawyer has been hired to investigate its options scandal. If press releases had sound effects, this one would have the awful thunk of an iPod dropped onto a concrete floor.

Mac fans may not care about the business problems, but it will be interesting to see whether Steve Jobs still has the swagger when he goes on stage next week at Apple's big developer conference in San Francisco.

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August 3, 2006 1:18 PM

FCC renews push for broadband over power lines

Posted by Brier Dudley

Cnet has a good rundown here. Basically, the FCC is pushing ahead and doesn't want it to bog down in debates about interference.

If the technology ever gets momentum, it might be worth revisiting in Seattle, a city with its own electricity system. A city task force considered broadband over power lines but opted to push for fiber to the home instead.

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August 2, 2006 4:30 PM

Real deal hurts Mozilla's geek cred, sticks it to Microsoft

Posted by Brier Dudley

At least that's the reaction on Slashdot, where the techies are acting as if Rob Glaser just sneezed in their beer.

RealNetworks announced that it will offer Mozilla's Firefox browser and Google's desktop toolbar with downloads of RealPlayer. Strangely, the rants ignore Google, which has been making similar deals with other companies to extend the reach of its toolbar.

Maybe the nasty comments at Slashdot were posted by folks in Microsoft Building 34, who must be furious. Under its antitrust settlement with Real, Microsoft is giving Real a higher profile at MSN and even inside Windows Vista, which will provide links to download RealPlayer. Now, if Vista users follows those links, they'll get Firefox and the Google toolbar as well.

Here's a sample of the Slashdot reaction:

"Mozilla, why?! That's like partnering with cocaine dealers because they distribute to 2 million people a day. Ughhh! I feel DIRTY!"
"They may get more people downloading their browsers, but Firefox's core market has always been geeks. Associating themselves with a company that is almost universally reviled by geeks is a huge slap in the face to Firefox's core group of supporters. .... This move indicates a lack of sensitivity to the Open Source philosophy, and seems to complete Mozilla's move from a community-driven project to a market share obsessed company."
"Bundled downloads suck, especially for people with slow internet connections. Just give me what I requested, don't add a bunch of crap to the download that I don't need or want. Does Mozilla want Firefox to become "That crappy browser that came with the music player"?
"I keep tryi.... *buffering*.... ng to read.... *buffering*.... the story..."

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

August 2, 2006 3:56 PM

Vancouver's Dabble DB gets a nod

Posted by Brier Dudley

Business 2.0's August issues lists the B.C. startup as one of the most innovative Web 2.0 projects happening abroad. Being labeled with a cliche is a mixed blessing, but Dabble DB seems to be on a roll.

The company is in the Web productivity-collaboration business. Its service lets you create spreadsheets, databases and intranet applications "to manage and share your information on the Web."

Its service became publicly available in June -- charges start at $10 a month -- and Om Malik said it has $2 million in funding. That should keep the folks there in Labatts until they're bought by Microsoft or Google.

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August 2, 2006 3:26 PM

Postman rocks

Posted by Brier Dudley

According to the Seattle Weekly's annual "best of" issue, Postman on Politics is the best mainstream media blog in Seattle. Way to go, Dave.

Microsoft was named best place to work, was the best local blog and the "best local Web site" was, um, San Francisco-based Craigslist.

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August 2, 2006 2:47 PM

Microsoft factoid of the day

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft's partnership with NBC gives exclusive online use of NBC news video clips for 99 years, according to a Wall Street Journal story today.

That's part of why MSN is way out front in online video advertising, trouncing even Google, in the fastest growing segment of the online ad market, the story says.

It's making the NBC deal look pretty sharp, in retrospect. A lot of credit goes to Peter Neupert, who left Microsoft in 1998 to run, but returned last fall as VP for health strategy. Here's a great story about his role in the deal.

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August 2, 2006 11:36 AM

Techies dreaming of a date with Bill Gates

Posted by Brier Dudley

Don't tell Melinda, but Bill's a pretty hot commodity, according to India's national newspaper, The Hindu.

"Most aspiring IT professionals dream to go on a date with Microsoft Chief Bill Gates,'' the paper reported.

The lucky winner of a Bill Gates dream date is profiled here.

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August 2, 2006 10:02 AM

Bob Herbold giving $1.5 mil for UW venture lab

Posted by Brier Dudley

The former Microsoft chief operating officer's gift will be split: $500,000 for "an endowed professorship in entrepreneurship" and $1 million to build the Robert J. Herbold Venture Creation Lab at the University of Washington Business School.

The lab "will allow students from across campus to work on their new ventures, meet with an entrepreneur in residence, or practice their investor pitches," James Jiambalvo, biz school dean, said in a release.

Herbold's now a consultant and adjunct professor at the National University of Singapore. He was COO at Microsoft until 2001, and before that worked at Procter & Gamble.

He's a latecomer to the UW -- he graduated from the University of Cincinnati and Case Western Reserve University.

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August 1, 2006 11:18 AM

Watch out, Google, Microsoft now gets the Net

Posted by Brier Dudley

That's the take of Merrill Lynch analyst Kash Rangan, who was apparently swayed by Microsoft's financial analyst meeting last week.

Rangan, the most prominent "neutral" analyst on MSFT over the past year, today upgraded his rating today to "buy."

In a note to clients, Rangan said it's now time to jump in. Catalysts for growth include online services, Xbox and the arrival of Ray Ozzie, and he thinks Microsoft has a good chance of gaining ground against Google.

"Investor patience has been tested and expectations have been reset lately. Now is the time to look at Microsoft,'' he said.

Rangan said Microsoft has transformed.

Our view is that Microsoft gets the Internet, and that the desktop will be an asset in the pursuit of its Online strategy. The old Microsoft exemplified the strategy of a pure software company. It saw everything as a software problem, with the device -- PC or mobile -- storing the data and intelligence. Google exemplifies the strategy of a pure Internet company. It sees everything mostly as a problem sitting in the Internet cloud, with the server storing the data and intelligence. The new Microsoft is a combination of both these viewpoints. The desktop is important to the Internet experience, especially when it comes to doing things like synching up calendars and e-mail from the work desktop through the cloud.

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August 1, 2006 11:09 AM

Seattle firm launches wine search and referral site

Posted by Brier Dudley

It's still in beta, but has 33 wineries signed up so far, according to Mark Michael, co-founder of Synapse Corporate Solutions, a Web software and design firm that created the site.

Michael said the project is a way to supplement marketing work that Synapse does for its winery clients.

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

August 1, 2006 11:04 AM

Berkeley goes for Seattle style fiber network

Posted by Brier Dudley

The Register has a good rundown of municipal fiber vs. Wi-Fi in its story on Berkeley's request for a fiber providers.

Comments | Category: Public policy , Telecom |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.