Friday, October 13, 2006

Outta here

I'm going to be heading west tomorrow for business. Blogging will be light to non-existent, depending on whether or not I decide to drag my laptop 2500 miles through 3 airports.

Ya'll mind the store while I'm gone.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Somebody finally gets the joke

Napster, Gnutella, allofmp3.com, LimeWire, BitTorrent--the Internet literate know these are all various ways that pirated media content is moved around the world. They exist for a reason--it lets people get what they want, when they want it, in high quality, and cheap.

It also means that the people who produce the content in the first place don't get any recompense for their effort. Not a Good Thing. View it how you will, but movies and music cost money to make. If there's no money to make them, they aren't going to get made. If we want them, it's in our best interest to pay for them.

Of course, a lot of folks, me included, are sick and tired of paying $16 for a CD with 2 decent songs on it. I quit buying CDs, more or less, a while back. I decided it's better to do without the one song I liked than pay $16 to own a copy. Movies are pretty much same song, different verse. Too much investment for too little return.

Well, at least a few folks in big media are getting the picture:

Disney-ABC: "We understand piracy now as a business model"

They go on to say that they now understand why people are pirating content. They acknowledge that it isn't so much that they won't pay for it, but they want it on their terms--high quality, when they want it, where they want it and cheap. You know, what us proles have been saying for years now.

There are issues to be worked out. There is mention of ABC's experiment (now permanent) with streaming episodes of "Lost" and other programs. CBS has a similar feature that I assume had similar issues. (The big thing is that the affiliates are losing money on ads because people are watching online.)

At least they're waking up to the fact that their world isn't ending, it's evolving, and if they don't evolve, they will end. This should be a Good Thing for all of us.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It's not our fault! Those mean old men did it to us!

I'm just waiting for the feminists to jump on this bandwagon:

An old-boy network at Hewlett-Packard contributed to the legal troubles of former Chairman Patricia Dunn and undermined the leadership of former CEO Carly Fiorina, the women suggested Sunday on national TV.

In separate interviews on the CBS television news program "60 Minutes," both Dunn and Fiorina say while each was still working for HP, former board directors Tom Perkins and George Keyworth plotted against them.

"Clearly they were aligned in how they thought I should reorganize the business," Fiorina, who was ousted as HP's CEO in 2005, told reporter Lesley Stahl. "But these were people that, for all their gifts and all their accomplishments, didn't understand what running an $85 billion company is all about."

Tom Perkins "didn't understand what running an $85 billion company is all about"? Spare me the drama, queen. Tom Perkins of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers? Just spare me.

Dunn said that Perkins has a vendetta against her for disclosing to the board the source of the leak: [George] Keyworth, a friend of Perkins.

And I suppose that her actions in pursuit of the leak, which have cost HP some serious market cap and bad press, had nothing to do with it. Perkins may have been PO'd, but the guy isn't that stupid. If anything, I would suspect he was PO'd at his friend, not because of him. After all, Perkins got Keyworth the job--and Keyworth's actions made Perkins look bad.

The root of the problem is that both of these women were the wrong person for the job. Fiorina was, as far as the board was concerned, going in the wrong direction and harming the company. Dunn exhibited a serious case of poor judgment, which is not a good thing in a Chairman of the Board.

Both of them made poor decisions that cost them their jobs, but rather than own up to it, they want to make it someone else's fault. That's something they have in common with a lot of failed CxOs of both sexes.

The kicker is what this entire little exercise in Corporate Ethics (Lack Thereof) is all about. As Ephraim Schwartz points out in his Infoworld column, the leaks were about whether HP would pursue a direct sales strategy (selling directly to the customer, a al Dell) or an indirect strategy (selling through resellers and VARs). This "discussion" has apparently been going on at HP for over a decade.

HP seems fated to be yet another in a long line of companies that have eventually failed once the founders are no longer in control. That's a shame, because at one time, it was a damn fine company.

Monday, October 09, 2006

How to win

(Via Timebomb 2000)

I've made several posts in the past weeks on how to lose the war in Iraq/War on Terror. Want to know how to win it? Shawn Macomber thinks he has the answer.

The olbilgatory range report

OK, since everyone knew that I was finally going to the range, I'll just bet you're actually expecting me to blog about it, huh?

Saturday was cold (for this time of year) and wet, with occasional bouts of mist. Not the perfect day to go shoot. However, I haven't been to the range in so long I wasn't about to let this slow me down. Weather like this is why you have woobies, windshirts and boots.

So, with our little gang suitable attired, we descended on the 200 yard range. Along with me and the kids was Old Friend's Son, with 4 deer rifles to sight in--a .243, a .270, a 30-06 and a 7mm WSM. (I'll say this for the boy, he had all the distances covered, with the exception of Next ZIP Code.)

We took a Ruger 10-22, a Henry .22 lever action (Son's gun, he calls it his "Birthday Boom") and a fairly newly acquired Ruger Mini-30 in stainless with a wood stock.

It wasn't to be an auspicious day for shooting.

OF's Son lead off by zeroing the .243 in short order. This was the highlight of the day. Next he tried the .270. The gun belonged to a friend of his, and they had tried last year to get it to shoot somewhere in the vicinity of a bullseye. They failed then, and we failed now. Something is terribly wrong with that gun. I've offered to take a look at it, and I hope they oblige me, because I'm really curious to find out what's going on. A box and a half of ammo later, scope adjustments used up, we quit trying.

Next was the 30-06. This one zeroed, but seems to be only about a 2-3 MOA gun. Being a Remington 700 ADL, I find that a bit upsetting. Of course, that's good enough to kill a deer, and since that's the intended purpose, I guess it will do. It better. If not, OF's Son's Friend may come zero his own rifle.

Then we worked on the 7 mm WSM. I know for a fact this gun is a tack driver--I helped zero it last year. This year, the longer he worked with it, the worse it got.

"Are you sure you're turning the adjustment the right way?" asks I.

"Yeah, counter clockwise moves it to the left."

I'd been watching. He had started out to the right, was turning the adjustment counter-clockwise and was just getting further and further right--and more and more frustrated.

"Are you sure you're turning it the right way?"

"Sure I am," says he, turning in about 8 more clicks--without ever looking at the adjustment screw. He finished the box of ammo (and by the way, this stuff is $25 a box) and the holes were completely off the target.

He was ready to give up. "I just don't know what's wrong," he said, rubbing his shoulder. He was getting sore, recoil pad or no. I asked him for some ammo and told him to spot for me and I'd give it a try.

I checked the scope adjustment screw. Counter clockwise moves the POI right. Uh-huh. I dialed about 20 clicks clockwise. That got me on paper. Five more shots and it was shooting sub-MOA groups around the X. (I told you, the thing is a tack driver. Utterly wasted hunting deer.)

The kid hung his head. "I just don't understand--I knew that I was adjusting the right way."

I told him that's the problem with assuming--sometimes your assumptions are wrong. I also told him that I think that's a problem with the newer scopes that use a finger adjustment rather than a screw driver--you can adjust without looking at the screw. When you look at the screw, that arrow is right there, and if you miss it, it's your fault. That didn't make him feel better, but I think he learned a little something.

During the period he was shooting, me and the Little Freeholders were also shooting, sort of. The 10-22 came out of the case with a problem--it wouldn't cock. I foolishly hadn't brought any screw drivers, so I couldn't do anything about it. Daughter was less than impressed. (Note to Self: Self, go get another set of screw drivers that will henceforth live in the range boxes.)

She had also been up way too late and gotten up way too early. She retired to the truck with a blanket for a nap. I hated it, but it was her choice.

Son was banging away with the birthday boom, and hitting nothing. He complained, and I reiterated the proper hold and aim instructions. He still couldn't hit anything. I knew the little gun shot fine, so I tried. I didn't hit anything. ????

Looking at the rifle, I finally noticed that the step ramp that adjusts the rear site had gone missing. The search was futile--no ramp. So that gun was finished for the day.

That left the Mini-30. Anyone who's been around guns long knows that the Minis (both the -14 and -30) are fun guns with a reputation for inaccuracy after prolonged shooting and crappy after-market mags. I can't testify to the inaccuracy issue for reasons soon to be clear, but I will stipulate the after market mags are stinkers. I got the gun, the original 5 round mag, 2 10 rounders, 3 20 rounders and a 30 rounder. The 5 worked flawlessly, one of the 10 pretty much worked and one was junk, one 20 worked flawlessly and the other 2 were junk, and the 30 is actually a 20--it won't work reliably with more than 20 rounds loaded.

Oh yeah, and the factory sights SUCK! The first rounds were about 10" down and 10" right. Using all the elevation adjustment, I got it to an inch or so low. Windage is adjusted by drifting the sight in the dovetail, and if I didn't have screw drivers, you can bet I didn't have a brass drift and a hammer. So I contented myself with loading mags for Son to try out.

All in all, not one of our better days at the range.

Big Bada Boom!

So let's see a show of hands out there--who is surprised that North Korea was able to develop a nuclear weapon?

Yeah, that's about what I thought. Not a lot of shock around here. After all, we provided them with food and fuel, excuse me, humanitarian aid, which allowed them to pour what little funding they had into the project. Add that to a whack-job totalitarian dictator with a bomb fetish, and presto!

Three things that I'll be interested to see developments on. First, I wonder how long it will take the Japanese to develop their own bomb? They already have the expertise and the missiles to deliver it. Given their engineering abilities, the thing will be the size of a suitcase (Whoo-hoo, a real suitcase nuke!) and will be able to track down dear old Kim and send him blazing to wherever.

Second, China has now lost some big face. Don't expect them to take this lying down. I don't have a clue what they might do, but I suspect it will not be pleasant for the Norks.

Third, how long will it be before this whole thing is Bush's fault?