Focus Groups Never Lie

George GilderI’ve been re-reading George Gilder’s brilliant Telecosm and I came across this telling anecdote about focus groups.
In 1980 when Bob Metcalfe, inventer of ethernet, came to the industrial megacorporation General Electric on behalf of his fledgling company 3COM, the GE executives explained that they had done considerable research on the new personal computer and networking industries. In focus groups composed of GE customers held all over the country, executives were told over and over that there was no consumer interest in personal computers. PCs, the focus groups said, only were of interest to businesses. And the same could be said for networking. The was no home PC market, and never would be.

General Electric decided to stick with refrigerators, nuclear reactors, and light bulbs, and to this day has never dabbled in personal computing or networking.

Tech News for Friday

All the news that's fit to rant aboutHappy Talk Like A Pirate Day. Reclaim those pirated words (like Pirate) with Word Pirates. And now the news…

  • New email virus poses as patch from Microsoft. Say it with me… Don’t open attachments. Especially if they claim to be from Bill Gates. This one also uses the MIME exploit to execute automatically on unpatched systems. Updated anti-virus signatures are available from most vendors already.

  • Senator Sam Brownback introduces bill to repeal anti-privacy clause of DMCA. New bill says “An Internet access service may not be compelled to make available to a manufacturer of a digital media product or its representative the identity or personal information of a subscriber or user of its service” unless criminal or civil action is already pending. Currently the DMCA allows any copyright holder to demand the name and address of any Internet user without filing suit.
  • Search engine Netster sues Verisign for $100 million over controversial SiteFinder redirect service (see yesterday).
  • Consumers are suing Apple Computer, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba over misstating hard drive capacities. Companies use decimal to describe size, computers use binary so that a drive described as 160 GB really has less than 150 GB usable storage.
  • Tough California anti-spam legislation awaits signature from Governor Davis. The measure bans unsolicited commercial e-mail unless the sender has a business relationship with the receiver. It covers e-mail either sent from California or to California residents. Those receiving unsolicited e-mail have the right to sue for $1,000 per message, up to $1 million.
  • New York Times/CBS Poll says file sharing has dropped 5% since lawsuits. Only 36% of respondents said file sharing is always wrong. [free registration required]

Top Stories for Today

All the news that's fit to rant aboutNews stories we’re considering for tonight’s The Screen Savers

  • Read their lips. House bans Internet taxes forever. Next step: US Senate.

  • Like MSN, Yahoo! Messenger plans a mandatory upgrade that blocks third party access (Yahoo says it’s designed to control spam). Trillian will offer patch to thwart MSN and Yahoo’s attempts to close their networks.
  • Jeffrey Lee Parson, the high school kid accused of creating MSBlaster variant pleads not guilty.
  • More security alerts: CERT has issued a warning on the SSH flaw I mentioned on Tuesday. And IBM’s DB2 has been compromised, but in this case hacker must have physical access to the machine.
  • The US Commerce Department extends ICANN’s charter for three more years.
  • California Senator Barbara Boxer blasts Verizon and SBC for resisting RIAA subpoenas. Accuses the ISPs of “promoting illegal downloading” and engaging in “hypocritical behavior.” Sen. Ron Wyden asked RIAA Prez Cary Sherman how long the suits will continue. “I really can’t answer that,” Sherman replied. “How many has DirecTV had to file to stop satellite piracy? They have filed more than 10,000 (lawsuits), but you don’t hear much about that.”
  • Cell phones are a major source of infection in hospitals.
  • New Demo Presidential candidate Wesley Clark says the net made him do it.
  • Paramount and Fox sue DVD copy software companies.

Posted via Palm

For some time I’ve wanted a way to Blog via e-mail. I thought it would be cool to post from the road via Blackberry.
Still can’t do that with Greymatter, my blogging software, but thanks to AvantGo I can create entries on my Sony Clie and they’ll be posted when I sync. I have to write in Graffitti, which is kind of painful, but at least it’s mobile!

Next: an AvantGo channel.