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13 April, 2003

A Birthday Party

Yesterday I attended a birthday party, populated mostly with 2-to-4 year olds.

Here's proof:


Posted on 13 April, 2003

David Coursey on Word Processing

ZDNet's David Coursey writes: Microsoft Word: How you can live without it

Right now, I've got beta versions of Microsoft Office 2003, OpenOffice.org 1.1, and Corel's WordPerfect Office 11 loaded on my system. My summary judgment: There are things to like and dislike about the word processors in each of these suites, but they really vary only by small degrees. All are mature enough that the major problems have long since been solved

What? C'mon Dave! How can you possibly say that?

The only word processor that I'm familiar with any more is Word. Word may be a "mature" product, but it's also an ancient product. Microsoft keeps dumping new features on top of it, with absolutely no regard for the overall user interface. Microsoft always talks about the user "eXPerience." In the case of Word, it's a horrid experience.

Someone needs to start from square one and design a word processor from scratch. In my experience, every new version of MS Word becomes less usable than the previous version. The "style" feature in Word 2002 was completely screwed up -- so much so that I can't even use it any more. I can only think of one mainstream product that has a worse user interface than Word: Excel.

The problem is, Microsoft has such a stranglehold on the Office market, that people actually think their products are good. That's just because they don't have a point of comparison. At best, the apps in MS Office are satisfactory. Microsoft is certainly capable of designing much better products. 

Posted on 13 April, 2003

Happy Birthday

Mike Landberg writes: The spreadsheet turns 25

After the discussion ended, I asked [Mitch] Kapor, 51, and [Dan] Bricklin if there's any lesson to learn from the history of VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3.

"Success and failure in the technology business is only loosely linked to technical and design excellence," Kapor said.

Yep.

Posted on 13 April, 2003

CD Sales

Tom Daniels Hates the RIAA. And he makes some good points.

Recording Industry Revenue has dropped six percent. Six percent. Keep that figure in mind. Six percent. With broadband, CD Burners, and access to every song on the planet... global CD sales have fallen six percent. Just about anyone has access to every CD on the planet for free, and global CD sales have only fall six percent.

Amid one of the worst economies since the early 80s.

Amid $19.99 CDs for a half hour of music.

Amid one of the biggest void of talent in the music industry ever.

Amid growing DVD/VHS sales.

Amid XM/Satellite Radios.

Amid Streaming Radios.

Amid possibly the worst consumer backlash in recent memory.

CD Sales have only slumped SIX percent.

In 1999, the last time music sales increased, there was an increase from 33,100 new releases in 1998 to 38,900 new releases in 1999. More new releases, more purchasing. Seems a simple explanation. But, something you DON'T usually hear the RIAA mention.

And don't overlook this article by TIm O'Reilly: The Music Piracy Myth

Posted on 13 April, 2003

A National Lampoon Fan

If you've ever been a fan of National Lampoon, check out Mark's Very Large National Lampoon Site.

When people hear the name "National Lampoon" they tend to think of Animal House or Chevy Chase movies. But as many will recall, there was much more to it than that. National Lampoon (the humor magazine) was first published in April 1970. It ceased publishing with the November 1998 issue (although it resurfaced in late 1999 as a website.) By far its funniest and most creative period was between 1970 and 1975. This site covers the magazine from that period.

The High School Yearbook Parody is a classic among classics. But, oddly, I could not find a listing at this site for the Sunday Newspaper Parody -- the only National Lampoon memorabilia that I still own.

Posted on 13 April, 2003

Perceptual Impairment From Beer Drinking

Click here to see how drinking beer can affect your vision.

Posted on 13 April, 2003

Spooky Pooch Costume Contest

The results of a costume contest for dogs. This almost qualifies as animal cruelty.

Posted on 13 April, 2003

Old Women's Magazines

Not magazines for old women, but old women's magazines -- from the 1920's 1930's, and 1940's. It has lots of cover illustrations and old advertising.

This web page looks at women's magazines and some of the adverts they contained in the decades from the late 1920`s to the mid to late 1940`s. the adverts that I have picked have to a large extent been governed by the position of them to the spine of the magazine and the actual physical condition of the magazine. Many interesting adverts could not be used as to scan them would harm the publication which in all cases is now over half a century old.

Posted on 13 April, 2003

Lil' Markie

If there were an awards ceremony for weird Christian songs, Lil' Markie's Diary of an Unborn Child would probably take top honors. Hell, it would probably win a lifetime achievement award.

It's some full grown man with a munchkin voice, singing terrifying songs about drug use, abortion and being a fat kid and each fill me with a profound sense of dread, horror, and disgust.

At one point, he acts out the part of a baby fetus, telling how happy he is to have fully formed fingernails at 4 1/2 weeks, and a well functioning heart after 6 1/2 weeks, etc., etc.

Posted on 13 April, 2003

Two New Excel MVPs

The number of Microsoft Excel MVPs increased by two.

  • Norman Harker
    Norman is a financial guru from Australia. He contributed the three financial chapters to my Excel 2002 Formulas book. He also put together a handy file of Excel functions (available at Debra Dalgleish's site). Norman doesn't have a web site yet.
  • Ken Wright
    Ken is from the UK, and participates in the Excel newsgroups and the forums at Tek-tips.com. He holds a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Financial Analysis. His web site is here.

Welcome Norman and Ken! I hope to meet them both at the next MVP Summit conference.

Posted on 13 April, 2003

Endangered National Parks

View the top-ten list of America's Most Endangered National Parks.

With 388 units across the country, the National Park System provides America with places of solace, reflection, beauty, learning, and peace. However, our nation's parks are in danger from serious threats both inside and outside of their borders. The National Parks Conservation Association hopes to draw attention to the problems facing all of our parks by highlighting ten most in need of immediate attention.

Posted on 13 April, 2003