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Last Updated December 10, 2003

Daily Briefing

Welcome to our Blog! We've decided to start this web log as a way to communicate new changes to our site, discuss various happenings, and share occasional rants about a variety of topics (mostly tech related). We hope to keep it fun, interesting, and brief. And as always, we don't intend to follow any of the traditional blog rules. If you'd like to send us feedback about the site or comments posted in the Blog, just drop me a line at bernie@labmice.net
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September 2003
August 2003
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 Friday, Oct 17
For the loyal fans and followers of this website, I would like to apologize for not updating this blog as often as I'd like. However, I've been rather busy securing a partnership that will help LabMice.net continue to grow and become an even more valuable resource in the future. Over the coming weeks, you'll see a great deal of content and cosmetic changes as we move this site to the next level. I'm excited about the new partnership, and I think all of you will be pleased as well. In a related matter, I've been able to reacquire the LabMice.com domain name after a billing screw up at Network Solutions released it into the great abyss a year ago. So if you accidentally type in .com instead of .net, you'll get us and not something with lots of pop-ups. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, Oct 8
There's an old saying in the business world: Never let the bean counters run your business. Since Microsoft included the product activation feature in Windows XP, the entire software industry has been watching carefully and trying to gauge customer response. For software companies, curbing casual copying and amateur piracy could dramatically impact sales to the tune of billions of dollars. While the initial response to Windows XP's activation scheme was a bit hostile, the majority of consumers received Windows XP with a new PC (vs. buying a retail version), and the overall consumer response was cautious, but not overtly negative. Anxious to jump on the bandwagon, Intuit included a product activation feature into TurboTax with disastrous results. One of Intuit's most popular products, Turbo Tax is also one of the most frequently pirated software titles. The new anti-piracy methods it employed where very restrictive, and by some accounts, deceptive. Instead of increasing sales, the anti-piracy features may have actually encouraged customers to try competing products and alienated some customers completely. The consumer backlash was so strong, Intuit has decided to remove the feature from this years version of TurboTax and is schedule to publish an open apology letter in several major publications today. As a result, the rest of the software industry is being more cautious, even with the apparent success of Symantec's use of product activation in its flagship products. So why did Microsoft get away with product activation while other companies get slammed? Some may argue that since Microsoft is often accused of being "evil", the behavior was expected. The more obvious reason  they got away with it was lack of choice. When deciding between tax preparation or antivirus software, consumers often see competing products on the same shelf and can make a relatively painless choice in a few seconds. If you don't want Windows XP, your simplest choice is to stay with Windows 9x/Me or Windows NT - forever. Switching to Linux, FreeBSD, GNU, or even Apple can be a major undertaking for most people. It requires learning a new and potentially more complex operating system, and may also require that you repurchase new versions of your favorite software. Choosing between two $50.00 software packages is obviously a much simpler choice. Since many consumers own several PCs, they've begun to factor in the "discount" of installing a piece of software on each machine. By restricting that option, software companies are effectively doubling or tripling the cost of their products from the consumer perspective. While casual copying isn't legal, software companies need to decide between the lesser of two evils: taking the loss due to casual copying or sending consumers to their competitors. Obviously something the bean counters didn't consider.

Wednesday, Oct 1
Despite the telemarketing industry's best legal efforts to derail the national do not call list, not many telemarketers have been bold enough to violate it - yet. I usually receive an seemingly endless stream of  calls throughout the day, and the interruptions are maddening at times. Yesterday it was blissfully quiet. No vacation offers, home improvement deals, satellite TV installations, or debt consolidation services. The trick is getting it to stay that way. The good thing is that about 50 million numbers have already added to the national do not call list, and legislators aren't likely to turn their backs on that many voters. The bad news is that there are only 50 million phone numbers on the list, out of the roughly 166 million residential numbers in the United States. Are there really 116 million people out there that want to receive calls from telemarketers? The key to making this law stick is getting more people (voters) on the list. If you haven't signed up already, now is the time. Help your parents and other relatives to sign up. It's a simple procedure that only takes a few minutes over the web. If the list continues to grow, and the FCC enforces it, unsolicited telemarketing calls could become a thing of the past. Perhaps it could lead to tougher anti-spam legislation, which would certainly make all of our lives easier. A national "do not spam" list could be the first step to stopping spammers based in the United States, and might inspire international cooperation as well. Imagine a world without spam....

 

  

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