aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Times technology: Size, spam, & will a fad fizzle?
Lots of good tech in the Times today. Let’s start with the Yahoo Google size debate:
On Sunday, researchers at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications attempted to shed light on the debate by performing a large number of random searches on both indices. They ran a random sample of 10,012 queries and concluded that Google, on average, returned 166.9 percent more results than Yahoo. In only three percent of the cases did the Yahoo searches return more queries than Google. The group said the Yahoo index claim was suspicious.
Next up, the joys of catching spammers:
“As a result of spammers’ obfuscatory techniques,” the F.T.C. reported, citing one major Internet service provider’s experience, “amassing the required evidence for one lawsuit required eight people who expended approximately 1,000 hours of work.”
Litigation costs “can range from $100,000 or less (when the spammer is easily identifiable) to more than $2 million (when the spammer mounts an aggressive defense),” the commission’s report continued. “Not surprisingly, some I.S.P.’s believe that lawsuits against spammers are an expensive and often fruitless way to stop spam. Instead, these I.S.P.’s expend the bulk of their antispam resources improving their filtering technologies.”
The experts say filters are the way to go and that as they get better the number of eyeballs reached will become “too few to make spamvertizing a worthwhile marketing strategy.”
Finally, is podcasting a fad that’ll fizzle?
Marc Freedman of the Diffusion Group predicted that 56.8 million people would be using podcasts in 2010. “Podcasting will be a common feature, integrated into browsers and digital media players,” he said.
But Ted Schadler of Forrester Research predicted that 12.3 million households - about 30 million people - would use podcasts by 2010. His forecast assumes that many early adopters will give up on podcasting and that others will never pick it up.
More Mac service issues
Last week Timothy Noah searched in vain for an iTunes support phone number, today Dan Gillmor describes dealing with Apple over a product flaw. It’s a defect with the 15" PowerBook that Apple must be aware of:
The situation involves the machine’s USB 2.0 ports. In at least some cases, they do not supply enough power to operate peripheral devices, specifically external hard drives that works just fine with other computers including other Apple laptop models.
The service people at the store where I bought the machine, apparently unaware of the problem, tried hard to help me. In the end, they basically threw up their hands and told me to live with a computer that does not work as advertised or get a different one. The company’s phone support people have been politely unhelpful, for the most part, but have also refused to address the core issue.
In the end, I’m forced to conclude that the machine model line is simply defective in at least this one way. And I can live with it. But Apple’s stonewalling with me and other customers is just one more reason why I’m losing faith in a company that I’ve supported with my wallet for a long time.
The cult of the Mac is such that devotees accept the problems, while arguing that Macs are better than PCs and don’t fail.
My experience is they do fail. As it happens, I have that PowerBook model. Buy the AppleCare package, though in this instance it wouldn’t solve the problem.
Justice Sunday’s Catholic irony
This event is full of ironies. For one thing, the key guest speaker from Justice Sunday I, the man leading the charge for Bush’s judicial nominees, Sen. Bill Frist, has been conspicuously excluded from this one, even though it’s being held in his own state. That’s his punishment for (a) failing to invoke the “nuclear option” during consideration of Bush’s Court of Appeals nominees earlier this year, and (b) flip-flopping more recently on stem-cell research.
For another thing, this very sanctimonious event will be graced by Tom DeLay, a man who’s under so many legal and ethical clouds at the moment that a thunderstorm may break out over his head the moment he mounts the rostrum tomorrow.
The main irony? That the main beneficiary, Judge John Roberts, is Roman Catholic:
This is, of course, richly ironic, since the theological and denominational ancestors of the conservative evangelical Protestant leaders most prominently on display in Nashville frequently and vehemently made the opposite argument against earlier Catholic political figures.
The evangelical Protestant inquisition of John F. Kennedy in Houston in 1960 is the most famous example of conservative demands that a Catholic leader swear absolute fealty to the principle of separation of church and state. But there was an earlier and much more savage inquisition back in 1928, when Al Smith, the first Catholic to be nominated for the presidency, was bitterly opposed by conservative Protestant ministers, especially in the South, for the possibility that his faith might somehow affect his policies in office.
As it happens, I’m currently reading an interesting book (Happy Days Are Here Again, by Steve Neal) about the 1932 presidential campaign that has a short but fascinating section about Smith’s persecution for his faith, and his brave but futile response. And here’s what the preeminent American Catholic political martyr of the 20th century had to say:
“I recognize no power in the institutions of my church to interfere with the operations of the Constitution of the United States or the enforcement of the law of the land. I believe in absolute freedom of conscience for all men and in equality of all churches, all sects, and all beliefs before the law as a matter of right and not as a matter of favor. I believe in the absolute separation of church and state.”
Today, peculiarly enough, such views are considered by the likes of the Justice Sunday crowd as “secular humanist,” “anti-Catholic,” and “anti-Christian.” It’s clear that poor Al Smith, were he resurrected today and lifted to public office, would again suffer persecution from the same people, but for the opposite reasons.
Via Armando at Kos. Emphasis his, with my concurrence.