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20 July, 2003

Microsoft's $1.1 Billion California Settlement

From CNET: Judge OKs $1.1 billion Microsoft deal.

A California judge on Friday gave preliminary approval to a landmark settlement under which Microsoft will pay $1.1 billion to settle a class-action suit that claimed it overcharged consumers for Windows.

The ruling by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Paul Alvarado allows the settlement to proceed to the next step, during which consumers and corporations in the state will be notified that they may qualify for vouchers ranging in value from $5 to $29. The vouchers can be used to buy most hardware or software products from any manufacturer.

The lawsuit was filed by Townsend and Townsend and Crew. According the their FAQ, the voucher amounts will be as follows:

Product Voucher Amount
Microsoft OS software (MS-DOS or Windows) $16.00 per license
Microsoft Office $29.00 per license
Microsoft Excel (if purchased separately from Office) $26.00 per license
Microsoft Word (if purchased separately from Office) $5.00 per license
Microsoft Works $5.00 per license

If you purchased any of these products in California from February 18, 1995 through December 15, 2001, you can submit a claim, beginning in 60 days.

And here's another interesting part:

Two-thirds of the unclaimed money will go to California public schools in a mix of donated Microsoft software and cash grants. Although the maximum value of the settlement is $1.1 billion, Microsoft could end up paying as little as $367 million in cash, which is what it would owe to California public schools if no vouchers are claimed. If all vouchers are claimed, Microsoft would be required to pay the maximum, but schools would then get nothing.

What kind of proof is required?

You will be allowed to claim up to 5 licenses (subject to a $100 maximum claim) by submitting a sworn statement that you purchased those licenses. No further documentation will be needed.

So, this may well be a free-for-all give-away for Californians. Everybody and their brother can make a claim -- even people who don't even know what a computer is (they can always sell the vouchers to someone who can use them).

I think I purchased three or four systems during that time period, and they all had Windows and Office pre-installed. So I could honestly make a claim for $100 -- probably more if I took the time to dig through my records (which I won't).

I just have a few questions:

  • Since Microsoft admitted their guilt, have they now lowered the price for the software?

  • How much will Townsend and Townsend and Crew earn from this?

  • Now that they've established a precedent, will Townsend and Townsend and Crew now do the same thing in the other 49 states?

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Tonya Harding

Just when I've pretty much forgotten about her, somebody sends me a link to Tonya Harding's web site. The highlight seems to be a list of Tonya Harding fantasies, submitted by people around the world. So far, there are more than 1,300 of them. Here's an excerpt from one of them:

I had never paid much attention to figure skating until I saw this blonde goddess skate onto the ice. "Who was she? What's her name?" I watched� captivated by her long wavy hair� her thick thighs and that little cute smile and her ever present look of anxiety. I couldn't get enough of her and found myself searching sports pages and TV listings to see when she would be skating on television again.

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Reading Blogs With Mozilla Firebird

I hereby declare Mozilla Firebird to be the official web browser for blog fans.

Last week, I mentioned that I have dropped Internet Explorer in favor of Mozilla Firebird. I continue to be impressed with Firebird -- so much so that I could never go back to Internet Explorer.

Firebird's "tabbed browsing" feature has caused me to literally change the way I surf the web. And if you like to read blogs, you should really check it out.

Most blogs have lots of links. With Firebird, if you see a link that looks good, press Ctrl and then click the link. The page is opened in a new browser tab in the background. But don't read the linked document yet. Continue reading the blog, and simply Ctrl+Click every link that looks promising. When you're finished, all of the requested linked documents will be waiting for you. Just click a tab and read it. No more waiting, and no extra browser windows cluttering up your screen.

If you have a list of sites that you read everyday, store bookmarks to those sites in a folder. Then, you can open all of the sites with a single click (each in a separate tab).

After you become familiar with tabbed browsing, download the Tabbrowser Extensions, which gives Firebird lots of other tab-related features.

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Bad Designs

Michael J. Darnell presents: Bad Human Factors Design. He's got some very interesting designs. Unfortunately, the site seems to be very slow.

(via The Presurfer)

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Cryogenic Hair

Perhaps one of the dumbest ideas yet: Hairogenics.

Hairogenics has designed a temperature-controlled and desiccated underground storage facility for the deposit of healthy, young hair samples. Until there is a safe, proven and attractive alternative to baldness, there is Hairogenics.

Pay $49.95, and you'll receive the Hairogenics Depository and Preservation Kit (HDPK).

It sounds like a joke site, but I think it's real.

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Ten Commandments For Software

By Jack Naylor: Ten Commandments for Software Programs.

Here's the First Commandment:

1. Thou shalt install no other stuff without telling me and giving me the option of saying no. Guerrilla installs of Internet Explorer, add ons, demos, etc. shall result in the programmer being visited by a plague of little crawly things.

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Vintage Ties

K.N.O.T. = Kollectors of Nasty Old Ties.

You can view lots of photos, or even ask a question of Richard Arutunian, the resident expert and tie historian.

Richard's personal collection of ties dates back to the early 1920's. The collection covers the entire spectrum of design through the early 1970's. He has collected ties for over 35 years. He has been a consultant to the movie and television industry and to Estate sales groups.

Particularly notable is the collection of vintage tie ads.

(via Idle Type)

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Head Out On the Highway

Traveling with a frozen head. But not just any frozen head -- this is the cryogenically frozen head of Walt Sidney (who has an uncanny resemblance to Walt Disney).

The snapshot here shows Walt visiting Hoover Dam.

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Swinging Chicks and Singing Nuns

If you were alive in the sixties, you might enjoy Swinging Chicks of the '60's. You'll find historical information and profiles of people you've probably forgotten all about -- including the Singing Nun:

Perhaps the unlikeliest pop star ever, Soeur Sourire ("Sister Smile"), AKA the Singing Nun, had a chart-topping hit with "Dominique" in '63, then she gradually distanced herself from the convent and came to a bizarre, tragic end.

Her real name was Jeannine Deckers, and you can learn even more about her here.

(Via Tom McMahon)

Posted on 20 July, 2003

J.C. Holds a Press Conference

A bit of satire from the Skeptic Report: If Jesus Christ held a press conference.

First Question: "Mr. Christ, could you please tell us... where have you been, and why are we hearing from you now?"

JC: "What do you want to hear, the truth or what you want to hear? I have been hanging out, gettin' it together, ya know, roaming the earth like that Samuel L. Jackson said he wanted to in Pulp Fiction. By the way, Joan Osborne's song really blew me away. I thought she HAD seen me on a bus. And I would like to formally apologize for 9-11. I was really preoccupied with other things. I was in a deist funk that day I guess."

Posted on 20 July, 2003

A Model of the Solar System

The people of Aroostook County, Maine, built a model of the solar system.

Scale 1:93,000,000. At forty miles from Pluto to Sun, the largest complete three-dimensional scale model of the Solar System in the World.

Shown here is Saturn, which is 9.7 miles from the Sun.

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Message in a Bottle

A real-life message in a bottle story.

Standing on Clearwater's Pier 60, a little boy put a note in a bottle: "To whoever finds this, please write me a letter and let me know." Nineteen years went by. Roger, we got your note.

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Halloween Idea

Halloween is only four months away. It's not too early to start thinking about a costume. Maybe a Plug In Costume Set?

Everyone will get a charge out of this shocking display of togetherness. She wears pull-over shift with sockets, he gets pull-on plug with elastic waistband and several feet of cord. Both pieces made of cloth-covered foam. One size fits most adults.

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Diddley bows

A diddley bow...

...may have been the first instrument that produced the sound of sliding rhythm and the whines and cries of a single string that later became the distinctive sound known today as the "Blues". It was common to the rural south in the 1800's and was made by stretching a piece of broom or cotton wire around two nails and a bottle or "snuff can" wedged under the wire to create tension for pitch. The string was plucked while sliding a piece of metal or glass on it to produce notes.

(Thanks Beukeboom)

Posted on 20 July, 2003

Roger McGuinn Suing Microsoft?

From The Inquirer: Byrds founder to sue Microsoft over Eight Miles High.

A notice posted on Roger McGuinn's web site said he will sue Microsoft for allegedly using four notes of the Byrds' song Eight Miles High. According to the release, McGuinn, founder of the Byrds, will allege that the first four notes of the song are used in the closing down music for Windows XP.

Here's a link to the original source.

This certainly sounds like a joke to me.

Posted on 20 July, 2003