Critical Section


Monday,  02/06/06  09:04 PM

Scientists hail discovery of hundreds of new species in New Guinea.  "An astonishing mist-shrouded 'lost world' of previously unknown and rare animals and plants high in the mountain rainforests of New Guinea has been uncovered by an international team of scientists."  Awesome!  Shades of The Relic by Lincoln Child :)

Gerald Vanderleun nails it: The Kids are Not All Right.  "A cartoon is published in Denmark and embassies are stormed and torched throughout the world to the shrieking cacophonies of Muslim mobs.  Just another dutiful day in the sunny realms of Islam.  These predictable tantrums grow by turns more disturbing and irritating.  It is as if civilization has, in its efforts to be ever more civilized, nurtured a slight skin rash into a full blown case of adolescent acne and decided to treat it with a variety of homeopathic and ineffective nostrums that only seem to encourage its spread, even when more effective palliatives are at hand.  Seriously, for serious we shall some day become about this matter, what are we to do about these children of a younger god?"  I can't wait for the adults to impose more discipline.

Chris WherryThis is excellent - the U.S. has a new Pro Bike Racing Team!  "The veil of secrecy surrounding the new domestic United Pro Cycling road team was lifted Tuesday morning with the announcement of the team's title sponsor, Toyota Motor Sales USA, as well as its team roster, equipment sponsors and unique brand of marketing and revenue initiatives...  As rumored, prominent Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team signings include reigning USPRO road champion Chris Wherry (pic at right), reigning national time trial champion Chris Baldwin, Pan Am Games champion Ivan Dominguez, former U.S. Olympian Tony Cruz and four-time Argentinean national champion Juan Jose Haedo."  I hope bike racing continues to gain popularity in the U.S., it is such an awesome sport.

Motley Fool: Money Matters for Google and eBay.  A good analysis of Google’s potential entry into payments.  Despite Jeff Jordan’s statements – which are properly sober about a new competitor – I honestly don’t think Google is much of a threat to PayPal.  There are two reasons for this:

  1. Fraud.  When online payments first began getting traction there was an explosion of little companies in the space, including PayPal and X.com, but also including entries from well-established competitors such as Citibank, Western Union, Bank One, and Wells Fargo.  After X.com and PayPal merged, their key advantage was that they were able to manage fraud successfully.  Payments is a low margin business, and the only way to keep fees low and make the service work for “everyone” (including people who don’t have credit cards, of which there are many) is to effectively manage fraud.  PayPal had a fundamental advantage over other approaches because it is a “stored value” system, so assets can be frozen, briefly, while fraud investigations take place, and money movements can be tracked within the system.  If Google is going to enter this space as a service, rather than as a stored value system, they’ll either have a conservative entry which can’t be widely used, or they are going to have too much fraud.
  2. eBay.  By far the most money on the web trades hands because of auction settlements.  It is unlikely that Google will have much traction on eBay, ever, now that eBay has integrated PayPal into their site, and it is unlikely that Google will have enough non-auction commerce to get enough traction with a payment system to start a network effect.  Google Video is their best shot right now, but even if their volume becomes iTunes-like it will still be dwarfed by auction settlements.  Most songs and videos go for single digit dollars.  The average price of an eBay auction is about $50.

That said, it will be good for PayPal to have a competitor; like eBay, their competition has dwindled to the point where they have a virtual monopoly.  Competition is good for all of us :)

iPod carbon fiber caseWow is this cool; a carbon fiber case for your iPod.  I've always ignored iPod cases, they just make the thing bigger, needlessly, but this looks pretty darn excellent.  [ via Digg ]

Steven Baker: Why RSS doesn't catch on.  "Long story short, I'm a typical tech user.  That's why I related to Debbie Weil's and Fred Wilson's posts on why RSS hasn't yet made a dent in corporate e-mail.  If it's something I have to outsource to my 13-year-old, a technology isn't dunce-proof ready for primetime."  This is a critical point.  It isn't just how useful a new thing is once you're using it, it is also how much effort does it take to try it.  I call this the "activation energy".  A worth subject for a longer post, when I have a moment.  For now, I agree that new technology must have low activation energy to achieve widespread adoption.

Wired news: The 2005 vaporware awards.  (Better late than never :)  Interesting how so many games are vaporware.  I guess that's because preannouncing is a way of life in that industry.  I did enjoy the "Hasta la Vista" joke about Windows Vista, yeah, it's late.

Treo 650 running LinuxLinux on the Treo 650.  Woah.  No, I am not making this up.  I have no desire to run Linux on my phone, but I am thrilled that it is possible.  Yippee for platforms!

Difference Engine made from LegoHere we have Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, made from lego.  Now that's awesome!  (P.S. Site hosted by Steve Wozniak...)

Hey, it's a new sailing blog: Inside Yachting.  With columns by Rich Roberts, no less.  Cool.

 

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