Got my Ghost On – Whoo Hoo!

NIN - Ghosts I-IVHot Damn,  I got my NIN Ghosts I-IV today in the mail. I thought these things weren’t going to ship until May so I’m stoked. Yeah. yeah I already have the MP3’s and I already love the album that I’ve been waiting years to hear. So maybe I’m just old school but there’s just nothing that beats the emotional high of tearing the shrinkwrap off your brand spanking new CD/Cassette/LP and manhandling the latest release from your favorite musical artist. I remember back in the day before downloading my favorite albums via Napster/Shareaza/Binary Newsgroups/Torrent it was such a crapshoot when you bgought the latest album. Yeah maybe you’ve heard the advance singles on the radio but you have no idea what’s going to happen with the rest of the album. So anyway, I hope the precedent set forth by Radiohead & NIN can prove to artists that they can release commercially successful records without going through the labels and without making music tailored for the radio, or what’s left of it anyway. I’m still not quite sure that HD-FM is going to save radio, all though everyone said FM would kill AM and AM Radio is still around, right? Just wait until everyone has wireless broadband in their vehicles. What will radio do then? I’m not sure but I’m loving my new 2 Disc Set. Thank you Trent !!

Beautiful Virii And Malware at RSA

Beautiful Malwarefrom CRN.com

They’re frightening, yet strangely beautiful. They spread and infect and replicate and continually wreak havoc. While viruses and malware steal copious amounts of information and compromise an untold number of machines every day, these treacherous security threats are unseen to the naked eye. Until now.
Malware MyDoom For the first time ever, images have been developed that visualize a wide range of these pernicious, but hidden, threats. Researchers at MessageLabs, the vendor behind the project, disassembled malicious code from a variety of well-known threats to render it inoperative. The researchers then passed the code along to computational artist Alex Dragulescu, who applied specially built application to analyze the code and used its values to create a 3D entity. That entity was then transferred to modeling software, where it was positioned and lit to capture the aesthetics of the model. Dragulescu then used his artistic touch to prepare the final image for its presentation April 7 at the Varnish Fine Art Gallery in San Francisco.

Oooh, you didn’t label your shelves! That will cost you $3.9 million, Thank You

DTVvia Associated Press

Federal regulators on Thursday fined Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Best Buy Co., and other retailers $3.9 million combined for failing to properly label that analog-only televisions will need to be retrofitted after the switch to digital TV next year.

The Federal Communications Commission also handed down $2.7 million in fines to other companies for violating other digital TV rules that involve shipping analog equipment and blocking technologies such as the V-chip.

An FCC rule, adopted last May, requires retailers to display or affix “consumer alert” labels to analog-only TV equipment — including TVs, DVDs, videocassette recorders and digital video recorders — that says it will not receive signals after the nationwide digital transition without a special converter box.

The rule is to keep consumers from buying TV equipment that will not work after the digital switch by Feb. 17, 2009. After that, if the TV doesn’t get cable or satellite service or isn’t hooked up to the converter box that translates over-the-air digital broadcasts, it won’t work.

The FCC, which conducted numerous inspections last June, said it initially issued warnings to companies, whose stores and Web sites across the country were in violation of the rule. The agency said it gave each company “a reasonable opportunity” to respond.

Free Shipping + save 10-50% at the Best Choice Sale, starting today!

So I received another marketing email from Macy’s today, and finally I have had enough. The subject of the email is listed in the title of this post. So I’m thinking, Free Shipping, and 10-50% off? Wow, that’s an amazing offer. So I opened the email and read this headline that jumps out from the top.

Macy’s Deceptive Email Advertising

Hmm. Did you catch the fine print in lowercase type at least 5 times smaller than the UPPERCASE SALE MESSAGE that adds with $100 purchase. enter promo code CHOICE. excludes mattresses, rugs & furniture. other exclusions apply”. Are you having any trouble reading that? Well in normal print size that starts with “with $100 purchase”.  That’s a pretty big gotcha and should definitely be included in the subject line of the email and in a font size equal to the offer in the headline. Please let me be clear. I’m not faulting Macy’s for making this minimum purchase requirement a part of the offer. It is totally within their rights to determine the qualifications for any promotion that they choose to run. But any retailer should be very, very clear about what the terms of any stated promotions and should go out of their way to avoid the appearance of impropriety, especially that which borders on fraudulent behavior. Should a consumer read this offer, visit Macy’s website, add a bunch of items to their cart, then attempt to checkout with this promo code in order to be warned that there was a $100 mininum purchase? Maybe enough buyers won’t care and will continue with their purchase. But how many will be upset that these details weren’t more up front and abandon the cart as swiftly as they arrived? I know I will be reading the fine print of all future marketing I receive from Macy’s (which will be much less now that I have unsubscribed from their mailing list). This type of behavior should not be tolerated.

Google Unleashes Web Services: Google App Engine

Google App EngineGoogle unleashed their Amazon Web Services killer today called Google App Engine. Right now the development kit is limited to Python (and the Django Web Framework built on Python), the Google BigTable database and the GFS file services but this will undoubtedly change the game for Amazon Web Services and the paid providers that have been built around managing AWS. Here are more details from the announcement on TechCrunch.com

Google isn’t just talking about hosting applications in the cloud any more. {Google is} launching Google App Engine, an ambitious new project that offers a full-stack, hosted, automatically scalable web application platform. It consists of Python application servers, BigTable database access (anticipated here and here) and GFS data store services.

At first blush this is a full on competitor to the suite of web services offered by Amazon, including S3 (storage), EC2 (virtual servers) and SimpleDB (database).

Unlike Amazon Web Services’ loosely coupled architecture, which consists of several essentially independent services that can optionally be tied together by developers, Google’s architecture is more unified but less flexible. For example, it is possible with Amazon to use their storage service S3 independently of any other services, while with Google using their BigTable service will require writing and deploying a Python script to their app servers, one that creates a web-accessible interface to BigTable.

What this all means: Google App Engine is designed for developers who want to run their entire application stack, soup to nuts, on Google resources. Amazon, by contrast, offers more of an a la carte offering with which developers can pick and choose what resources they want to use.

Google Product Manager Tom Stocky described the new service to me in an interview today. Developers simply upload their Python code to Google, launch the application, and can monitor usage and other metrics via a multi-platform desktop application.