What I’ve read this week or so (through 020808)

Chart of MSFTFirst off, let’s just says that it’s been a busy week, with several changes and shuffles during mid-year review, as Directions on Microsoft analyst Rob Helm noted on January 11.  He said that “there’s often a lot of churn between January and March.” 

But Helm also reported that after “uncharacteristically large acquisitions under [Bruce] Jaffe’s watch, including the $6 billion paid last year for Internet advertising company aQuantive,” that Bruce’s departure from the company “could be a sign that the company’s large, global acquisitions are done for a while.”


Ballmer’s Letter to the Yahoo Board (BusinessWeek) — Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer outlines his company’s $44.6 billion offer to acquire Yahoo

Arik Hesseldahl’s Open Letter to Steve Ballmer (BusinessWeek) — Arik says that “I know you want to make your mark on Microsoft, but you should stop trying to be all things to all people. Take a tip on focus from that other Steve.”

Yahoo: Time for Bold Moves? (BusinessWeek) — Businessweek’s by Robert Hof says that “To repel Microsoft’s takeover bid, the Internet giant’s options include outsourcing to Google, finding another buyer, or private equity”

Yahoo: Leaked Yang memo calls for hard work, commitment, and anybody but Microsoft (valleywag) — “In his latest companywide memo, copied below, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang wants to “make sure you all realize how essential you are to yahoo!s success.” And by “you all” he means all but the 1,000 or so he planned to “reallocate” in the next few months.”

Analyst: Microsoft bid is just a ploy to fend off Yahoo deal with Amazon (BetaNews) — BetaNews reports that “Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research has reached the unusual conclusion that Microsoft’s $44.6 billion merger proposal is really just a ploy to fend off a potential deal between Yahoo and Could he possibly be right?”

We’ll just have to see.

Now there’s lots more in the reading pile, so on to a selection of the articles in my “have read” pile, courtesy of Keep in mind that many of the descriptions are taken directly from the articles.  I’ll start with an article with a list of cool night spots for those visiting Seattle for TechReady 6:

Seattle Happy Hours that raise the bar (Seattle Times) —February 03, 2008 By Nicole Tsong — If you are visiting Seattle for TechReady, check this out.  “In the name of research, we ditched our cubicle to find even more fabulous and quirky excuses for edging out the back door. We mostly skipped old reliables in Belltown and downtown and scouted for new favorites… “

ARN – Vista’s driver ills aren’t just Microsoft’s fault — While Microsoft has always developed its own software as well as some hardware (think keyboards and mice), it has long relied on partners to create an unparalleled selection of applications and hardware devices that has become one of Windows’ chief attractions…

Low-Hassle Ways to Secure Your Computer System (lifehacker) — lifehacker rounded up a good deal of some free software and easy tweaks and add-on security fixes for Windows, Mac, and Linux, “so bust out the tinfoil hats and check ’em out after the jump.”… saved by 266 other people – SiliconDust HD Homerun Dual Network HDTV ATSC/QAM Tuner IPC-HDHOMERUN Ethernet Interface – Retail

72 Tips for Safer Computing – Expert Help by PC Magazine – From the basics to the extreme, here are the tricks that will keep your computer, you, and your family secure and safe, by Eric Griffith… saved by 26 other people

Engadget HD definitively answers: does cable, satellite, or fiber provide more HD? – Engadget — You want to know — nay, you deserve to know — which service provides the most HD content. Engadget HD’s got the answer, see how your HD provider stacks up.

From Apple: Organization Made Easy — Apple’s Bento can provide structure for any number of everyday tasks—like planning your kid’s birthday party by Stephen H. Wildstrom

Home Media Magazine – February 10-16, 2008

Big Oil’s Victory in Venezuela (businessweek)  — ExxonMobil has won a court battle to freeze $12 billion in assets of Petroleos de Venezuela as compensation for nationalization of projects by Peter Wilson.  This isn’t related, of course, to the time zone change instituted by President Chavez.

Novell: Ready to Buy (businessweek) — But who’s doing the buying? While the cash-flush software maker wants to make acquisitions, Novell itself could be a target by Aaron Ricadela

Worthwhile Small Business Technologies (businessweek) — Businessweek reports that “these 10 able technologies can make life easier for the small business owner. Among them: wireless connectivity and free conference calling” by Gene Marks

What Would Buffett Buy? (businessweek) — S&P’s latest screen tracking the Berkshire bigwig’s investing criteria uncovers 60 attractive names

Super Bowl Commercials XLII — The ads during this year’s game had a different feel from last year, but the expectations—and cost—were plenty high by David Kiley

HTC Shift appears in Orange Feb pricebook ( — Tracy & Matt blog that “HTC first announced the Shift back in March 2007, and had originally targeted a November launch. However, for unknown reasons, the device’s debut was delayed until now. The UMPC device will first appear at online retailer Expansys

Yahoo launches live cam site, but can’t handle traffic (BetaNews) – BetaNews reports today (February 8, 2008) that “Yahoo Live, the search company’s new live cam site, underwent what you might call an “experimental” launch last night. 

TV Converter Box Coupon ProgramBest Buy to begin selling DTV boxes on February 17 (BetaNews) — February 7, 2008 – The electronic retailer said it was ready for the digital television transition, stocking converter boxes that would be compatible with the US government’s rebate program. Just be sure to get your rebate coupon via the NTIA Web site first. Click right or call for coupons: 1-888-388-2009 (in US)

Related: Hearings on the DTV transition will be held in both the House and Senate in mid-February : Dealerscope Today – Stephen Silver Both houses of Congress are planning committee hearings this month on the digital television transition, as time remaining prior to the analog signal shutoff approaches one year on Feb. 17.

Spielberg Hooked on Wii Games (BusinessWeek interview) – February 6, 2008 — In this BusinessWeek interview, game creator Louis Castle dishes about bringing Steven Spielberg’s Wii game to life.

Marcial: Microsoft, Google Good Bets (businessweek) – Feb 8, 2008 – Gene Marcial says that “whether Microsoft gets Yahoo or not, some investing pros see money to be made long-term on the kings of software and search.”

Watch and Schedule Media Center Recordings from Any Computer — Want to catch up on last week’s episode on your laptop or even your cell phone? With the free Media Center add-on WebGuide, you can extend your Windows Media Center to any browser (including mobile browsers), so no matter where you are… saved by 64 other people

10 Tips to Retain More of What You Read Online (Vandelay) — October 16th, 2007 — In today’s society most of us read a considerable amount of information online on a daily or weekly basis. Whether you do business online, maintain a blog, read for your job, or just read for pleasure, I’m sure you could benefit… saved by 394 other people

How To: Record a Quality Podcast on the Cheap — MetaFilter founder Matt Haughey reveals his secret to recording the MeFi podcast between two Macs with simple software sans expensive hardware… saved by 38 other people

HelloTxt – Home — HelloTXT is a free web app that can send your status to Facebook, Twitter, a Tumblr blog, and a handful of other networks… saved by 439 other people

Create Your Own Personal Personnel File | TheJobBored — TheJobBored career blog suggests 15 kinds of documents anyone with a career should keep copies of for themselves—and, preferably, in one place, as a kind of “Personal Personnel File.” … saved by 147 other people

Celebrity Workspace: Andy Rooney’s “Organization System” — Commentator Andy Rooney takes 60 Minutes viewers on a quick tour of his cluttered workspace, inboxes, and storage bins. My favorite part has to be the collection of floppy disks. At this point he could probably lose the 1994 calendar, though, don’t you think?… saved by 11 other people

Sharpening Up Your New HDTV – — Setting up a new HDTV requires a bit more nuance than your old TV probably did, so has rounded up 10 tips for improving your HDTV picture to help you get the most from your new box… saved by 131 other people

Holy shelf unit batman: hidden passages at home DIY ( — Of interest – thanks to LifeHacker for the pointer to this post by Aussie blogger, Simon Shea. “He built a secret door into a shelving unit himself and documents the results with before and after photos. We’re adding bookcases and shelves at home, so this is an inspiration… saved by 81 other people

Microsoft Watch – Operating Systems – Can Microsoft XP Users Get Some Satisfaction? – A blast from the past, I re-read Mary Jo Foley’s blog post this week.  “Microsoft seems to be seeking more recruits again for its mysterious “PC Satisfaction Trial.” This week, and other Windows enthusiast sites posted copies of beta invitations from Microsoft for the trial.”

At the Core of Apple: A Clear-eyed Look at Steve Jobs’ World (Wired, WANE-TV) — Yet this is also a dangerous moment for Apple. In a way the company has never seen, the barbarians are massing at the gates. From hardware to software to services, major competitors with serious R&D and marketing budgets are laying siege to the House of Jobs…

Xbox is crack for kids (Janice Turner, Times Online) — Turner says that “It’s an impossible task to police our children’s multimedia addiction — “Screen time” is the new playground buzzword. What irony that having wasted weeks acquiring the world’s last Wii, and credit card bills still bulging from new purchases… saved by 9 other people

DIRECTV Loses An HDTV Customer ( — By Swanni 2/4/08 – Comcast makes an offer your author can’t refuse. “My father is 86 years old and still bursting with energy. But at that age, you need help, which is why a year ago I bought a house a few miles from his home in Southern Maryland.”  

Predict the Future by Studying the Customer’s Past ( — Jeffrey Gitomer 2/4/08 — crystal balls. Don’t you wish you had one when you were preparing for a big sales call? Even more when you were in a big sales presentation? Great news: A sales crystal ball is nothing more than taking a look at information derived from reading existing stuff and then asking powerful questions about it. This is information that – when understood – will predict the future.

Lorain County holds lesson for Bill Gates on giving (The Morning Journal) — By John Cole, 02/03/2008 — “when I read that Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft and one of the world’s richest men, is, at times, frustrated by the slow pace and limited success of his $33 billion charitable foundation, I felt like we were allies facing a common problem.”

HP’s Biggest Obstacle Is Microsoft (plus Amazon vs. Apple, Voting Smart) — By Rob Enderle, TechNewsWorld , 02/04/08 — You get the sense in talking to all of the vendors that their Microsoft contacts have one thing on their mind when it comes to allowing these companies to innovate and create the user experience they want.

Microsoft aims for much-needed second act (MSNBC) — Constance Gustke, an MSNBC contributor writes (Feb. 4, 2008 that “Few technology insiders doubt that Microsoft badly needs a second act. After all, the software giant has rested comfortably on its safe but highly profitable cache of desktop software sales…”

In Microsoft vs. Google, search is still master ( — Raissa Kasolowsky of Reuters writes (February 4, 2008) that “a good place to see the true frontline in Microsoft’s battle with Google is deep in the bowels of the British Library in London.” 

Why Vista sounds worse (The Guardian) — Changes to how the latest version of Windows handles audio playback has caused unexpected quality issues for musicians and consumers alike, reports Tim Anderson of The Guardian, Thursday, January 31 2008.

Unclutterer » Archive » Gadget ‘gas station’ — Anthro, an office furniture company, has a product for sale that appeals to my techie sensibilities. The eNook is a “gas station for your gadgets that has channels for you to plug in and charge all your gear.” … saved by 9 other people

Clutter: Live a Simple Life — Weblog ThinkSimpleNow suggests that the novelty may wear off if it hasn’t already. With all this extra “stuff,” our homes and minds are filled with excess possessions and information.

Digital Photos: Find Better Prices for Digital Photo Prints at PrintRates — Digital print comparison site makes it simple to see who’s got the best print-and-mail prices. Enter how many pictures you’ll be ordering, what size pictures you want and what kind of shipping you need, and you’ll receive a list of prices… saved by 19 other people

Cord Management: Build Versus Buy Your Gadget “Gas Station” — The Unclutterer blog points out a gorgeous, wall-mounted, fold-up gadget charging station that had us gripped with lust until we saw the price tag: a whopping $400. A commenter there pointed out that over at Ikea Hacker, a reader put together a wall-mounted gadget holder and charger by modifying a $43 wall cabinet… saved by 20 other people

Featured Windows Download: Skip Commercials in Windows Media Center with DVRMSToolbox — Windows only: Freeware application DVRMSToolbox analyzes Media Center-recorded files and marks the start and end point of commercials so you can quickly skip over commercials and go straight to the content… saved by 35 other people

ScreenCheck online utility (Photographer — Calibrate your monitors for consistent tone and color with web site Screen Check. The site displays two bars, one white-to-black for adjusting tone and the other covers the red/green/blue spectrum for adjusting color… saved by 661 other people

Stranded at the airport? Don’t forget Rule 240 (MSNBC) — Peter Greenberg of MSNBC highlights how to invoke Rule 240 to get a new flight fast any time your flight is canceled for anything other than weather. Jan. 29, 2008… saved by 459 other people

Health: Fix Your Poor PC Posture — To aid in the improvement of your PC posture, the post offers six stretches to get you sitting up straighter and taller at your computer. While you’re at it, maybe it’s time you fixed your overall workspace into a more healthy, usable setup… saved by 16 other people

vLite: Tool Cuts Vista Down to Size (internetnews) — vLite is an unsupported (by MS) free package that lets you exclude the Vista components that you don’t want or need but are cramping your system’s style before you even install Vista.

IDC: Virtual Test Lab Management (registration required) — This complimentary IDC paper explores the requirements for effectively using virtualization in the enterprise to accelerate software delivery. It examines how Global 2000 organizations are applying virtualization to software testing and development…

Facebook-based apps can now run on other sites (Computerworld) — By Heather Havenstein, January 28, 2008 — The social network releases a JavaScript client library that extends Facebook’s platform to outside sites

The Techdirt blog, a favourite… saved by 152 other people

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (Shane Perran’s SharePoint Customization Blog) — It seems we are being left with less and less excuse for not making our web content accessible. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Working Group has released Working Drafts of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and HTML Techniques

Always fun is YouTube’s “The Vader Sessions” — One of the funniest compilations I’ve seen (and heard) with new dialogue added to Darth Vader clips, all voiced by James Earl Jones. Classic… saved by 189 other people.  Also see YouTube – Darth Vader Prank Call to Microsoft. (Note that I don’t advocate this type of prank: “calls may be monitored and recorded for quality purposes…”)

The Claim: Never Drink Hot Water From the Tap (New York Times) — By ANAHAD O’CONNOR, January 29, 2008 — The claim has the ring of a myth. But environmental scientists say it is real. The reason is that hot water dissolves contaminants more quickly than cold water, and many pipes in homes contain lead that can leach… saved by 19 other people

InformationWeek’s Top 60 Little-Known Technology Web Sites — Jan. 26, 2008 “Our guide to great blogs and Web sites worth adding to your bookmarks. The selection ranges from obvious picks like Technabob and Search Engine Watch to more obscure destinations such as Location One, istartedsomething, and GottaBeMobile.”… saved by 305 other people

Optoma MovieTime DV11 Projector Review — Audioholics Home Theater Reviews and News by Clint DeBoer — last modified December 07, 2007.  This is a great all-in-one family room projector you can often find discounted with offers for free large screens.  Recommended for kid’s sleep-overs and movie nights.

You can now submit bugs through MSDN Forums for Visual Basic team – Bertan’s Blog — “Last week we have started a pilot program with Visual Basic team and enabled bug reporting on several Visual Basic forums. Bug reporting procedure is very simple and all you have to do is select “Bug Report” while create a new post under an enabled forum…

Blown away in 40 minutes: 31 demos — From Karin: “What fun! Thirty-one awesome demos in 39 minutes, presented in a wonderful interactive interface. Mouse over the top of the video screen to jump from demo to demo. Thank you for a great tour, Nigel Parker!”

Jeff Jones Security Blog : Download: Windows Vista One Year Vulnerability Report — pointer to a report “produced by a colleague of mine about Vista vulnerabilities one year after release. It is an in-depth report that compares Windows Vista against Windows XP, Linux and other OS’es.”

What’s your best interview tip? (Microsoft’s JobsBlog) — “What’s your best interview tip?” We get that question a lot so we thought it might be fun for all the bloggers – and you! – to weigh in on tried-and-true tips.

How to get Windows XP after June 30 (InfoWorld, 2008-01-28, By Galen Gruman) — Two weeks ago, InfoWorld launched a petition campaign to save Windows XP. So far we’ve gotten more than 70,000 signatures, thanks to a passionate response from a wide range of XP users. We hope we can persuade Microsoft to keep selling XP licenses indefinitely…

Opinion: Windows Genuine Advantage and why you should be annoyed — A blast from the past I re-read recently (say that five times fast).  Scot Finnie (July 30, 2006, Computerworld) said that “Just when it looks like Microsoft might be coming around, at least somewhat, on the boondoggle that is User Account Control in its upcoming Windows Vista operating system, the company loses all rationality…”

Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs (BusinessWeek) — Our communications coach breaks down the ace presenter’s latest Macworld keynote. The result? A 10-part framework you can use to wow your own audience, by Carmine Gallo… saved by 973 other people

Related: How Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field Works (Gadget Lab from — By Rob Beschizza January 29, 2008 — If you’re not sick to the back teeth of the man being mythologised this way and that, BusinessWeek has the ultimate primer on Being Steve Jobs. Breaking his presentational style down into ten bullet points, Carmine Gallo

Tales From Packaging Hell (Wired) — Wired noted that retailers use “packaging that’s next to impossible to steal from. But they could make it easier to open it when you get it home.” See The best present ever- the OpenX plastic Package opener for a solution.

Photographer Taryn Simon Shoots America’s Best-Kept Secrets (wired) — By Jenna Wortham 01.14.08 — Taryn Simon photographs some of the most top-secret, highly restricted areas in the world. Her latest book, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, took four years to assemble as the photographer gained access…

What Our Top Spy Doesn’t Get: Security and Privacy Aren’t Opposites — Bruce Schneier 01.24.08 — We’ve been told we have to trade off security and privacy so often — in debates on security versus privacy, writing contests, polls, reasoned essays and political rhetoric — that most of us don’t even question the fundamental dichotomy… saved by 41 other people

Let’s have some wa, hansei and kaizen ( — By Sudheendra Kulkarni, Jan 27, 2008 — Indian businessmen doing business with Japan are of two types — one, for whom the relationship is short-term and frustrating, and the other for whom it becomes durable and highly fulfilling, not only financially but also in other intangible ways.

Hanging Up On Dell? (businessweek) — Louise Lee reports on tech support are on the rise, and the PC king is scrambling to upgrade. Rob Hof said that this story — digging into Dell’s customer-service challenges — “won’t come as a surprise to the many folks…”

Is Google’s free ride as fast as Vista? (Money) — Find out which new productivity software suite is best for your needs. By Jonathan Blum, Aug. 8, 2007

Business: Defender of customer service ( — January 26, 2008 – Debbie Kelley writes that “bad customer service is rarely forgotten. In fact, the experience often gets repeated to friends and family. But on-the-job rudeness, unhelpfulness and inattention to customers are becoming the norm…”

14 Fantastic Freeware Finds – MSN Tech & Gadgets – Downloads, By Scott Dunn, PC World — Get to your favorite folders in a snap. Stream TV stations from around the globe. Add new power to Internet Explorer. All this and more, and all of it for free… saved by 65 other people

HTC Touch sales half that of Apple’s iPhone (betanews), By Tim Conneally, BetaNews, January 21, 2008  — Taiwanese handset manufacturer HTC has reported its sales for 2007, and it looks like the touch-screen smart phone market is more balanced than it is often portrayed to be.

PC World – Business Center: Red Hat to Focus on Core Products and Service — January 24, 2008 — Martyn Williams, IDG News Service – Red Hat’s new CEO plans to keep the company focused on its core Linux OS and middleware business while also improving the service it offers to customers, he said.

Consumers getting cozy with fibre to the home ( 01/24/2008 — Early findings suggest consumers are tending to adopt and enjoy fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) video services at rates higher than for competing services based on satellite, cable and fibre to the neighborhood node, according to an executive…

Most Americans are in cell phone jail – Gotcha Capitalism- — By Bob Sullivan, Jan. 22, 2008 – At any given time, most Americans are in cell phone jail. You know the feeling. You talk to a friend with a snazzy new handset that does amazing things. Or you see an advertisement for a great deal on a monthly plan.

How $5 could save the music industry — — January 24, 2008 – The Songwriters Association of Canada is proposing a $5-a-month licensing fee on every wireless and Internet account in the country, in exchange for unlimited access to all recorded music.

Insurance: Inventory Your Home or Office with StuffSafe — Inventory all of your home or office furnishings and bolster your theft or disaster recovery plan with web site StuffSafe. The obvious idea behind the service is that any on-site inventory is no good, since you’ll very likely lose the inventory materials… saved by 41 other people

How To: Suck Less at Photoshop, Redux — Last week we posted three Photoshop tutorials from funny guy screencaster Donnie Hoyle, and today we’ve got a new one that covers paths and masks… saved by 54 other people

How To: Install OS X on Your Hackintosh PC, No Hacking Required — “Two months ago I walked through how to build a Hackintosh Mac on the cheap using PC parts. Since that post, the OSx86 scene has changed rapidly, and now you can install Leopard on your computer about as easily as installing Leopard on a Mac…” saved by 1344 other people

Featured Windows Download: Download Flickr Pics by User, Group, or Tags with FlickrDown — Windows only: Suck down Flickr pics en masse by username, user email, tag, or group with open source application FlickrDown… saved by 39 other people

Redmond Channel Partner Online | Feature: 2008 Marching Orders — The new product launch wave hits early in 2008, so what’s a partner to do? Microsoft insiders and partners point out channel opportunities and challenges in a year without Bill. January 01, 2008 by Anne Stuart

Microsoft Caves on Vista Virtualization — Robert notes the change in the EULA on virtualization support in Vista Home.

Microsoft and Dell Unite for Charity (Reuters) Jan 23, 2008 — Dell will start selling two (Red) laptops and one desktop running Microsoft Windows Vista on Friday. The two companies will donate $50 for a laptop and $80 for a desktop to the Global Fund, which finances health programs in Africa.

Search Engines: Missing Money Searches for Unclaimed Funds — Previously mentioned search engine Missing Money has a new web site address and is still finding unclaimed funds for people who didn’t know about them. Just enter your name and state, and let Missing Money do its thing.

Mad Science: Evolution Explains Why Lolcats Control Your Mind — If you’re distracted by lolcats at work all day, new evidence from evolutionary biology suggests it’s not your fault. Human visual attention evolved thousands of years ago to track the movements of animals, and even today people are far more distracted… saved by 56 other people

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Tags: misc, articles, what I read, TechReady.

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