Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A one-way conversation with Congressman Mike Rogers

Congressman Mike Rogers, in whose district I live, sent out a political mailing just before the State of the Union address. I questioned the timing and the content of his message, so I hit Reply and typed him my thoughts. This robotic reply came back:

Dear Friend:

Thank you for your electronic message. I appreciate you contacting my office.

This mailbox is for outgoing mail only and is unattended. If you have comments, questions, or concerns, please email me through my website at
http://www.mikerogers.house.gov/Contact.aspx or call my toll-free number at 877-333-MIKE.

If you wish to remove your name from my Legislative Email Update list, please click on this link:

Again, thank you for your message. I look forward to hearing from you.


Mike Rogers
Member of Congress

I grumbled about the temerity of the Congressman sending constituents e-mail from a mailbox that wouldn't accept replies, and I pasted my message into the Web form. Wouldn't you know that the Web form also isn't open for business:

A can of spam with no spam

Today I've received several spam messages of this form:

Subject: %SUBJECT
Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/html

This is pretty funny; they forgot to insert the actual spam into the template. You'd hope that anti-spam detectors would catch on to this pretty easily.

Colbert explains progress since 1984 breakup of Bell System

Stephen Colbert does a hilarious take on Cingular Wireless changing its name to AT&T:
A Cingularly sad but true tale.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Apple announces iPhone; Cisco sues; no one notices that neither owns the domain name

Today Steve Jobs announced in famous fashion the iPhone, a very sleek device that appears to be a very cool cell phone, an OK music player that carries music, though much less than we'd expect, and a pretty good video player.

This thing looks way cool. Without understanding the details fully, I think I want one, and I think several million others will too.

But Jobs didn't announce that he'd reached an agreement with Cisco Systems to license the brand name for "iPhone" or "Iphone" or however you spell it. He didn't announce that for a simple reason -- because he had not reached an agreement in negotiations with Cisco to let Apple use the name they trademarked.

So Jobs just went ahead with his black turtleneck announcement -- and then Cisco proceeded to sue.

Here's the funny part: Apple doesn't own the name iPhone, despite Jobs' announcement. But Cisco Systens, just up the road, registered that mark years ago. Perhaps more importantly, none of the players -- Apple, Cisco, Cisco's subsidiary Linksys -- none own the Internet domain name iphone.com.

Thus years before this dust-up, a ways up the Silicon Valley, another company, albeit a small one -- but we all know that small companies in that valley make big things happen -- registered iphone.com.


The Internet Phone Company, LLC

3856 Willowview Court

Santa Rosa, California 95403

United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)

Domain Name: IPHONE.COM

Created on: 24-Aug-95

Expires on: 22-Aug-08

Last Updated on: 16-Jul-06

Administrative Contact:

Kovatch, Michael mike@NET-READY.COM

3856 Willowview Court

Santa Rosa, California 95403

United States

7075260852 Fax -- 7075690880

It was interesting to see the U.S. Apple and the Beatles' U.K. Apple Corps fight each other. It will be interesting to see who owns the Iphone trademark. It will be equally interesting to see to whom the courts award the domain name. No matter what happens, many millions of dollars are at stake.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Amazon sells second edition ahead of third

Today I met with my friend and co-author Lou Rosenfeld. He mentioned that the third edition of the best-selling book he and Peter Morville wrote, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, is in bookstores and seems to be doing well.

So while sitting there at anAnn Arbor coffee shop with dueling laptops (his a Mac, mine a Thinkpad, natch) I went to Amazon to check the sales rank. To my surprise I saw the book twice:

Click to see full-size screen shot

Now the funny thing is, Amazon lists the second editon first, ahead of the current third edition.

This is just fundamentally goofy. You would think that Amazon, of all companies, would "get" the importance of getting search right. As an author, you'd want to see only the current edition of a book. As a buyer, arguably there might be times when you explicitly want to buy the previous edition of a book -- but odds are you want the most recent, and that's the item that should show at the top of the hit list. Any previous editions should be labeled as such with links to the most recent version.

Also note that the most recent edition costs more -- 4 whole cents more -- yet the Amazon discount is slightly greater for the newest edition. Curiouser and curiouser...