November 16, 2007

If you live in atlanta, and you're not making plans to get out, you should be

Holy Water.
Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007 By MICHAEL GRUNWALD

Georgia was enduring its worst drought in a century, and it had already asked President Bush and the Supreme Court for relief. So on Nov. 13, Republican Governor Sonny Perdue appealed to a higher power, hosting a statehouse vigil to "pray up a storm," begging God to bring the rain he had withheld for 14 months.

But it wasn't God who allowed an outdoor theme park to build a million-gallon mountain of artificial snow while the Southeast was running dry; it was Governor Perdue and his fellow elected officials. They also allowed the wasteful irrigation of Georgia's cotton farms and the rampant overbuilding and overslurping of metropolitan Atlanta.

Like Hurricane Katrina or the California wildfires, this drought was a natural event transformed into a natural disaster by human folly. And while it's still hard to say whether global warming caused any particular drought or flood or fire, it's going to cause more of all of them.

Politicians always call catastrophes "acts of God," blaming unnatural destruction caused by natural phenomena on supernatural forces. When Perdue's spokeswoman said prayer was the answer, because "the issue at the heart of our drought is a lack of rain," she was wrong. The issue is a lack of water, and the best way to retain more is to consume less--with less lawn-sprinkling, car-washing, irrigating and sprawl. At Perdue's vigil, the Rev. Gil Watson acknowledged that "we have not been good stewards of our water," and even Perdue suggested that God was trying to "get our attention" for failing to do "all we could do in conservation."

Amen to that. But now Georgia's politicians are fighting to protect their culture of consumption and development by suspending the Endangered Species Act, so that they won't have to send any water downstream to preserve endangered mussels in Florida's Apalachicola River. It's not a very holy attitude. Those mussels are God's creatures too--and so are the oystermen and fishermen who depend on the Apalachicola. Anyway, stiffing them won't save Atlanta. That's going to require serious water management and long-term thinking. In other words, a miracle.


AMEN. And may God bless us all.

November 15, 2007

The Hair Club for Men

boys boys boys boys boys boys boys boys lots of lots of boys boys boys boys.

noticed i'm not getting picked up in techmeme discussions these days.

but boy there sure are a lot of boys on there tonite! boys boys boys boys boys boys boys boys lots of lots of boys boys boys boys.


Keep America Dumb.

hat tip: pirillo.


Anti-Social PR

MarshallK. schools Amazon PR in working with new media.

Amazon, like Google, does not have to care if we don't like how they handle things.

I love the services of both companies--just about to go order meat off But jeesh the old boss new boss thing is getting old.


Old Media May Not Be Dead, But Traffic From It Is

I am finding it so fascinating to watch the limited number of visitors stopping by here from the article on gmail that appeared in PC World, Infoworld and Computerworld. (all your world are belong to us.) I assumed I'd hit a "techcrunch-link-like" spike in traffic today since my blog was linked in the article.

But what I'm finding is that my technorati tag for "pink eye," and google search result for "free hamsters," bring more people here than a link from three of the biggest computer industry pubs of my generation.

freaky, no?

[[update, infoworld is starting to deliver some traffic--still, odd how little.]]

You know, if it were Mike or Robert or Jeff Jarvis quoted extensively in the article, the appropriate bloggardly wagons would have already been circled, the article heavily linked to, and it would be on Techmeme right now triggering an important discussion about enterprise 2.o, the future of the desktop, what an ASP 2.0's responsibilities are, what SMBs need out of web-based apps, etc.

An observation, not an indictment.


November 14, 2007

Building Our Businesses on the Back of Google

Yours Truly was interviewed for a Computerworld article (also see PC World or Infoworld) on problems with lost gmail. I'm not sure whether I'm glad or sad I wasn't the only one to have experienced the devastating loss of my inbox mail, or the only one bugged by Google's shoulder-shrug response.

It's a good article--give it a read. (I've bolded the most important parts [[cough]] below.)

Be sure you're prepared -- at least emotionally -- for this kind of loss before you leave the desktop behind. And if you figure out HOW to be prepared, please let me know.


Disappearing Gmail messages baffle users
There is a growing stream stream of Gmail users who regularly report losing some, many, or all of their messages without a clue as to why

When Jeneane Sessum logged into her Gmail account on the afternoon of October 27, she was greeted with a horrifying sight: an empty inbox.

A Gmail user since 2004, Sessum, a social media consultant and writer in Atlanta, had thousands of messages there, enough to use up almost 30 percent of her allotted storage space.

Since Gmail is her primary work and personal e-mail service, Sessum lost many important messages, including some she needed at that moment for a project.

Days earlier in Chicago, Jessica Squazzo, a writer and editor, accessed Gmail and stared at her computer screen in disbelief: All messages from 2007 had disappeared from her inbox.

Sessum and Squazzo are just two of a small but steady stream of Gmail users who regularly report losing some, many, or all of their messages without a clue as to why.

It seems that hardly a week goes by without at least several users reporting this problem on discussion boards, such as the official Gmail Help forum.

Asked to comment about multiple lost-message reports in 11 different threads created in September and October in the Gmail Help forum, a Google spokesman declined to address any of the specific situations, citing privacy reasons.

However, he did emphasize that, as far as Google is concerned, "most issues like this are a result of phishing attacks or compromised passwords -- or sometimes simply messages mistakenly deleted or marked as spam -- not a data corruption issue."

That explanation makes little sense to savvy and experienced Internet users like Sessum and Squazzo, who are aware of phishing scams and know better than to reply to suspicious messages -- let alone include in them confidential, sensitive information, such as passwords. In addition, they say they are the only ones with access to their respective accounts.

Moreover, both Sessum and Squazzo, interviewed separately via e-mail, question why a malicious hacker would go through the trouble of trying to access someone's e-mail account in order to delete messages, instead of acting stealthily to harvest information they could exploit, like credit card numbers.

"If someone had hacked into my account, why would they have just erased some of my e-mail and not all? The fact that precisely all my e-mail from 2007 -- and no earlier mail -- was wiped out leads me to still conclude that it must have been some technical error on Gmail's servers, whether they want to admit that or not," said Squazzo, who has used Gmail for personal communications since 2005.

In the case of Sessum, while the inbox was empty, she still had copies of messages she had sent in the "All Mail" file of her account, along with saved transcripts of instant messaging chats she had conducted using Google Talk.

For the sake of comparison, a review of discussion forums for users of Yahoo Mail and Windows Live Hotmail reveals far fewer reports of lost or disappearing inbox messages than for Gmail, even though those rival services have larger user bases.

Matt Cain, a Gartner vice president and lead e-mail analyst, hasn't investigated reports of lost messages in Gmail, but said the problem hasn't been observed as a common one in Yahoo Mail or Hotmail, both of which have traditionally enjoyed a high degree of data integrity in their message repositories.

"I can't validate [that this is a problem with Gmail] but if it's true, it's coming at an unfortunate time for Google, because the company is aggressively pushing into the enterprise e-mail space," Cain said, referring to the Gmail component of the Google Apps hosted collaboration and communication application suite, designed for organizations of all sizes, including large ones with its Premier edition.

A review of the Gmail Help forum reveals that reports of lost messages have become more common in the past year, with a higher volume of complaints occurring since July.

Another user who encountered this problem was Gary S. Moore of Fort Worth, Texas, who had used Gmail without problems for two years until one day last month, when he noticed all his archived messages had vanished from his account, including more than 100 photos.

In Greenwood, Missouri, Monroe Johnson was also affected, when a portion of his stored messages disappeared in October. Johnson, like Sessum and Squazzo, doesn't believe an error on his part or a compromised account might be to blame.

"I doubt it. I have been working with computers since 1997," Johnson said via e-mail. He's the only one who has access to his account, he said.

Like other interviewed users who contacted Google seeking help and technical support, Sessum only received a canned reply saying Google had determined that her problem wasn't due to a technical issue with Google systems and that she should change her Gmail password.

"I guess they are insinuating someone bothered to break into my Gmail account with the express purpose of deleting my incoming mail, while deciding to leave my chats and sent mail. Not likely," she said.

Sessum, who also uses the hosted Google Docs applications and other Google services, expected a more helpful answer from the company, considering the extent of her data loss.

"In many respects, I'm building my small business on the back of Google. And I believe that's what Google wants us to do. So it's imperative that they provide at least a little support when something goes wrong," said Sessum, who hosts her blog on Google's Blogger service.

Although consumer Webmail services such as Gmail are generally free, the user expectation is that the data stored in them will not be corrupted, Gartner's Cain said.

In fact, one of Gmail's innovations when it was introduced in April 2004 was the size of its inbox -- 1G byte, huge by the standards at that time -- so that users wouldn't have to bother deleting messages if they didn't want to.

Google didn't deliver POP3 support for Gmail until November 2004, and didn't offer IMAP support until late last month. POP3 and IMAP are protocols that let users download e-mail messages from servers to desktop PC software.

There doesn't seem to be a pattern to the reports of lost Gmail messages, as the problem has hit users with a variety of PCs, operating systems and browsers, according to interviews and discussion forum messages.

For example, Sessum uses a Mac computer and the Firefox browser, and doesn't synchronize her Gmail account with a desktop e-mail software. Meanwhile, Johnson accesses Gmail from a Windows Vista PC and downloads the messages to his computer, although he keeps copies of them on the Google servers.

Sessum, echoing other users, is hoping Google will look deeper into this problem of disappearing e-mail messages. Its users deserve a better explanation, she said.

"Google's back-end support function is MIA. You can't find a number to call. You have to tap our personal network of friends to find a name and a way in through the back door, do a dance and rub a stone for good luck, and hope that someone will help," she said.

It's also in Google's best interest to beef up this support part of its business, because even users who don't pay Google for services or software contribute significantly to the company's success, she said.

"Google makes it easier for us to collaborate, work, and publish. We provide the content, the searches, the clicks, and the destinations for those clicks. It's a win-win. Until you lose something important -- like all your data," she said.

A sampling of recent threads in the Gmail Help forum devoted to lost messages follows:


November 13, 2007

I'm In. Support the WGA on Black Tuesday.

It won't help much
cuz I'm no robin williams
no julia louise dryfus
no seinfeld
no letterman no leno
but omgwtfbbq
I gotta stand
with the word people.

Show your support for the WGA.


November 12, 2007

Not to Burst Your Bubble

Tough times now, Tougher times ahead.

Talk of Worst Recession Since the 1930s
November 12, 2007

After what Los Angeles money manager Arnold Silver called "a brutal three days," the question is: What now for the market?

A Wall Street superstar this year who runs Balestra Capital Partners, Jim Melcher, says he's "worried about a recession. Not a normal one, but a very bad one. The worst since the 1930s. I expect we'll see clear signs of it in six months with a dramatic slowdown in the gross domestic product."

Balestra Capital, a $350 million New York hedge fund, was up 3% for the past three market sessions, when the Dow Jones Industrials, spearheaded by widespread declines in financial stocks and fears of more billion-dollar-plus asset write-downs, tumbled more than 677 points, or about 4.5%. The Nasdaq fared worse, skidding about 7%, triggered by across-the-board declines in those fast-stepping technology stocks.

Balestra has increased in value by 175% so far this year, Mr. Melcher tells me. A 9-year-old fund, it has posted compounded annual growth of about 30% since its inception.

Mr. Melcher, a market bear, had some pretty discouraging words. "What I think is not good for the country, but good for me." he says. His basic advice to the country's roughly 80 million stock players: Run for the hills — the worst is far from over. An investor's stock portfolio now, he believes, should be only about half of what it might normally be.

With the housing market in a state of collapse — and he says he believes it is far from over — Mr. Melcher argues that average homeowners will not be able to withstand the kind of recession he sees, given the added burdens of rising energy and food costs, and continued deterioration in the credit markets.

Noting that consumption is already slowing, Mr. Melcher figures sharply rising unemployment is inevitable. Another of his worries is that central banks around the globe, America's included, are debasing their currencies, which is setting the stage for a new round of higher inflation. Our bear figures the next six to 12 months will be awful for investors as the market goes down "pretty substantially." His frightening outlook calls for an additional 20% to 30% decline from current levels. A drop of that magnitude would put the Dow down in a range of roughly 9,100 to 10,400

iCard Candy

November 11, 2007

one more for RB


A Veteran's Day "Happy Birthday" to two of my favorite Net Vets:

Chris Locke, aka RageBoy, who turns the big SIX OH MY GOD.

And JP Rangaswami, who turns the big FITTY CENT.

For the men who have everything, I really wanted to get you one (or two as it were) of these. However, as it also were, a vacheron-constantin is not currently in my budget.

Who am I kidding the thread on the band is not currently in my budget.

And so instead, I do what any beer-budget-blogger would do, which is post a fancy picture of the gift they'd like to send if they were someone else--someone probably too busy and stinking rich to be spending time blogging.

So with that, I send my gratitude, love, and wish that you have a great TIME on your birthdays.


First of all,

wash your freaking HANDS.

the WHAT blogs?

Shelley, Mike, Gary, Denise, Michael, Halley, and Tom, did you know they call the warbloggers "Milbloggers" now? Just making sure you guys stay up to date on the terms the kids are using these days.

We are showing our age.

I think I am going to change the name Blawgers to NoReallyWereHereToHelpggers.