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Friday, September 26, 2003
Another bite of the Apple.
Media Log is all blogged out after yesterday's two-hour Democratic
extravaganza. Be sure to see my Phoenix colleague Adam
Reilly's take on the proceedings. Click here.
LS sent a fascinating e-mail
responding to yesterday's
item on the slow-motion
breakdown of the Apple-Microsoft alliance. He writes:
Just read your media log
entry about Apple and wanted to comment on a couple things:
First, it's my view (as an IT
manager myself), that the IRM technology is going to be a very
slow starter, if it gets off the ground at all. Why? Because not
only will it break compatibility with Mac Office, but it will also
break compatibility with older versions of Office for Windows. At
several hundred dollars per desktop, many companies are going to
put-off upgrading to Office 2003 as long as possible.... IRM won't
be useful until a majority of users have a version of Office
capable of dealing with IRM-encoded files. The free viewer MS is
offering will only be useful for viewing those files, not creating
them, thus creating a one-way communication. Might as well send a
Also, MS is working on another
version of Office for Mac OS X. I think that if they are serious
about IRM taking-off, MS will have to add it to the Mac version as
well. I doubt that MS expects people to dump their Macs just so
they can use IRM.
Second, at the same time MS
announced they weren't going to develop IE for Mac anymore, they
also announced that they were ceasing production on a standalone
IE for Windows. Basically they are embedding IE even deeper into
the Windows OS. Apple has similar plans for Safari, embedding the
core technologies into OS X so that any application can be
programmed to take advantage of the Safari rendering engine. The
one difference between MS and Apple, is that Apple is building all
their core tech around open standards, vs. Microsoft which keeps
inventing their own closed systems.
Apple is as strong as it's been
in a long time, with an amazing line-up of products and a killer
OS. As we start to exit the recession, I think Apple is poised to
I hope LS is right.
posted at 12:38 PM |
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Thursday, September 25, 2003
Democrats visualize whirled
peas. Shortly before today's Democratic presidential debate began
in earnest, moderator Brian Williams explained the rather convoluted
rules, an exercise that he described as the "eat-your-peas portion of
I'm tempted to observe that the
entire two hours felt like pea-eating. But as General Wesley Clark's
1972 presidential candidate, Richard Nixon, once observed, that
would be wrong!
With that, here are some random
observations about the first debate to feature Clark, who's been
anointed the instant co-frontrunner (along with Howard Dean) even
though -- or, rather, because -- he's been in the race for only a
little more than a week.
-- The format, featuring 60- and
30-second responses and lots of beeping timers, stunk, but it was
probably unavoidable with 10 candidates to juggle.
It also hurt John Kerry more than
anyone. Whether you think Kerry is thoughtful or evasive, the fact is
that he answers questions in a ponderous, lugubrious style. He needs
time to ease into a response. He got off a few decent shots at Dean
-- especially over Dean's plan to repeal the entire Bush tax cut,
which Kerry charges would hurt the middle class -- but, essentially,
Kerry came off as a 40 mph candidate who'd accidentally meandered
into the passing lane.
-- Clark's debut was anticlimactic.
His answers were mild, tepid even, and never really veered from the
surface of conventional Democratic thought. When Williams asked him
whether if he would support President Bush's request for $87 billion
in military and reconstruction funding in Iraq, he replied, "Brian,
if I've learned one thing from my nine days in politics, you have to
be careful with hypotheticals, and you just asked me one." It was a
good line, it got a laugh, but it really wasn't a
Clark also failed to exploit his
military background beyond a little rhetorical throat-clearing. In
response to a question about Social Security, he made some sort of
reference to having appreciated the program "when I was in the United
States Army and trying to save $100 a month." It didn't make a lot of
sense, but perhaps it worked on some subliminal level.
-- A simmering subplot was to get
Howard Dean to blow his cool -- that is, if the perpetually seething
candidate can be said to have a cool. The former Vermont
governor showed a few flashes of anger (or "little flashes of
disagreement," as he put it when prodded by Williams), but for the
most part he held himself together -- even when accused by Dick
Gephardt of having sided with Newt Gingrich on a massive Medicare cut
in the mid 1990s. "You say you represent the Democratic wing of the
Democratic Party," Gephardt chided him. "I think you're just winging
"That is flat-out false, and I am
ashamed that you would compare me to Newt Gingrich," Dean responded.
But, rather than escalate, he pulled himself together and said, "We
have to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each
Even so, Dean's retort gave an
opening to Kerry, who observed -- correctly -- that Gephardt had
not compared Dean to Gingrich, but had merely noted that Dean
had supported Gingrich on a particularly odious proposal. "That's a
policy difference," Kerry said.
Thus Dean proved he could handle
being attacked without going ballistic, but still came off as
something of a whiner.
-- John Edwards wants to be Bill
Clinton, but he lacks Clinton's easy grace in front of the camera.
When Edwards panders, everyone can see that he's pandering,
which is why he'll never capture the Clinton magic.
For instance, he was asked if he
would continue to support government subsidies to American farmers if
it meant that it would worsen Third World poverty. Oh, yes he would!
"We have to stand by our farmers," he replied. But then quickly added
that he opposed subsidies to "millionaire farmers." Thanks for
the clarification, Senator.
-- Joe Lieberman is as well-known
as any of these candidates, but he seems unlikely to break through.
He's just too conservative for a party whose liberal wing dominates
in the primary season.
Lieberman defined his own problem
at the end, when the candidates were asked to identify the most
unpopular thing they would do as president. Lieberman responded that
this was the first presidential debate he's participated in that he
hasn't been booed.
-- Dennis Kucinich was passionate,
Al Sharpton was funny, Carol Moseley Braun was thoughtful, and Bob
Graham was avuncular. But none did anything to increase their chances
of being taken seriously -- especially by the media, which are
itching to knock this down to a three- or (at the most)
four-candidate scrum ASAP.
But see for yourself. The
rebroadcast on MSNBC starts in about 15 minutes.
posted at 8:42 PM |
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Watch this space. I'll be
writing instant analysis of today's Democratic presidential debate
(CNBC, 4 p.m.) on Media Log this evening. My plan is to post before
the 9 p.m. rebroadcast on MSNBC. I'll try not to give away the
Also, the Phoenix's Adam
Reilly will offer his take on the debate tomorrow at BostonPhoenix.com.
posted at 11:49 AM |
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Microsoft leaves Apple out in
the cold. Apple Computer has been counted out time after time
over the years, and it's still here, if not exactly kicking ass.
review of the new Microsoft
Office for Windows in today's New York Times raises some
serious questions about Apple's future.
According to David Pogue, Office
2003 incorporates some features that corporate managers will love.
These features -- known collectively as "information-rights
management" -- allow users to decide who will be able to open which
documents, what changes they can make, and the like.
But in a parenthetical near the
end, Pogue notes, "IRM breaks some of the convenient
Windows-Macintosh file compatibility that's existed for years -- and
it requires Internet Explorer as your browser."
Well, now. Apple's comeback,
starting with Steve Jobs's return in the late 1990s, rests on three
pillars: producing the coolest machines; unveiling a shimmering
operating system, OS X, that makes it easier to play with photos,
music, and video; and assuring users that they'll be able to survive
in a Microsoft world. Microsoft even invested money in
But that's starting to come apart.
Earlier this year, Microsoft responded to Apple's decision to release
its own Web browser, Safari, by halting development of future
versions of Internet Explorer for the Mac. Apple also released
presentation software known as Keynote to compete with Microsoft's
PowerPoint. And now we're starting to see divergence in the rest of
Office, the most crucial product of all.
I own a few shares of Microsoft,
but I use a Mac. This is bad news. Apple's enjoyed some very good
years thanks to its strategic alliance with Microsoft. Can't Bill
Gates and Steve Jobs sit down and talk this over?
New in this week's
Phoenix. I take a look at the
future of online file-sharing,
part of a special Phoenix package on "Downloading
Now: Music in the Post-Napster Age."
WBZ Radio talk-show host
Brudnoy talks about his
battle with cancer.
And employees at the
Herald and its sister
Community Newspaper chain brace themselves against rumors of deep
posted at 11:07 AM |
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Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Eye, eye, Principal Skinner!
The New York Times runs a horrifying story inside today on
Biloxi, Mississippi, where digital
cameras record every move
made by students and teachers.
Sam Dillon reports that in-school
surveillance is becoming increasingly widespread, but that it is
rarely used as extensively as it is in Biloxi, which can afford it
because it is flush with casino revenues.
Dillon's account is rife with
outrages. Yet, somehow, I found the most chilling comment was from
Allison Buchanan, a PTA president at one of Biloxi's elementary
schools, who thinks the spycams are a great idea.
"In my two years on the PTA, I've
not heard one parent say anything bad about the cameras," she
Oppression usually comes with the
willing consent of the oppressed.
A literary lion roars.
Harold Bloom may be an elitist blowhard, but that shouldn't stop you
from reading his hugely
entertaining rant in
today's Boston Globe against Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and a
bunch of poets you've probably never heard of.
The unreported truth.
Globe columnist Steve Bailey has
the goods on state
treasurer Tim Cahill, and proves himself to be an astute media critic
Noting that Cahill's abysmal record
as Norfolk County treasurer was there for the reporting during last
year's campaign, Bailey writes, "Like the rest of the media pack, I
was focused on the sexier governor's race. Cahill got a pass, and was
elected on the strength of a cute TV ad featuring his 10-year-old
Brudnoy's latest challenge.
Sad news today about talk-radio legend David Brudnoy, who's battled
AIDS since the 1980s and who announced yesterday that he has an
aggressive form of skin cancer (Globe coverage
Herald coverage here).
I had a chance to interview Brudnoy
yesterday afternoon; that interview will appear in tomorrow's
Phoenix. "I'm kind of the poster child for defying the odds,"
he told me. Here's hoping that David can defy the odds one more time.
posted at 9:30 AM |
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Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Like a (really annoying)
virgin. What are we to make of an adult male who refers to
himself as "Virgin Boy"? And what are we to make of a TV station --
(Channel 25) -- that hires
him as a commentator on its brand-new morning news
"Virgin Boy" is Doug Goudie, the
former Howie Carr sidekick best known for playing crude
sound effects whenever the
subject of -- tee, hee! -- homosexuality came up. (Goudie claims it
was a tape of former Boston city councilor David Scondras clearing
his throat at a news conference. Perhaps it was, but it definitely
offends on more than one level.)
In his new incarnation, Goudie goes
simply by "VB," so perhaps he's slowly trying to carve out a new
image for himself. Then again, judging by yesterday's debut, perhaps
Some years back, someone once told
me that he regularly ran into Goudie in the gym and that, away from
the microphone, he's a pretty nice guy. I bring this up only to note
that Goudie does not appear to have seen the inside of a gym in quite
And I bring that up only
because Goudie demonstrated a weird proclivity for fat jokes
yesterday. At one point, as a clip played of Ted Kennedy holding up
what appeared to be two military helmets, Goudie "joked" that Kennedy
was trying out a new bra.
Later, his reaction to
Nicks's lament about
Madonna and Britney Spears's kiss was to observe that Nicks, now 55,
is, well, fat. How insightful!
Goudie also treated us to some sex
jokes about Ronald Reagan, whom he insisted on calling "Dutch" -- a
tone-deaf touch of familiarity that co-anchor Jodi Applegate made fun
of. So how did Goudie react? By referring to Sylvester Stallone as
"Sly," of course.
It called to mind nothing so much
as Bill Murray's cringe-inducing turns at the anchor desk on
Saturday Night Live in the mid '70s -- the difference being
that you were supposed to cringe at Murray.
Neither Applegate nor co-anchor
Gene Lavanchy seemed to know quite what to make of their
sidekick. Applegate kept scrunching her face up, while Lavanchy opted
Herald TV critic
Collins writes today,
"Goudie has some roguish appeal but needs to be smarter and sharper
Unless Goudie gets much better real fast,
that is likely to be the kindest thing anyone says about
posted at 11:07 AM |
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Monday, September 22, 2003
Maybe Hillary really will
run for president. Until now, I had thought this was ridiculous.
I guess I still do. But the talk among conservatives that Wesley
Clark is paving the way for a Hillary Clinton presidential run is
starting to seep into the mainstream.
In a Time-magazine piece on
Clark's decision to jump into the race, Karen
It appears that Hillary's
husband knows which Democrat he wants to emerge: the junior
Senator from New York. Two sources close to the Clintons have told
TIME that the former President has been urging his wife in private
to reconsider her pledge not to run for President in 2004 and
pondering the most feasible way for her to back out of it.
Klein notes that, until
last week, Clinton had been running e-mail on her website from fans
urging her to run -- although Klein, who knows his Clintons,
discounts the importance of that, calling it "self-promotional cotton
On the other hand, New York
Times columnist William
Safire definitely thinks
Hillary Clinton is up to something.
I think we have to assume that
Clinton means it when she says she won't run in 2004 -- although if
she's serious about running for president someday, she's got to be
wondering about what it means for her if a Democrat beats George W.
Bush next year. (Here's what it means: no chance to run until 2012,
Still, the notion of a Clinton
candidacy -- or, for that matter, an Al Gore comeback -- is
predictated on the idea that none of the Democrats now running can
That may be true. But in 1992,
Democrats were filled with despair when then-New York governor Mario
Cuomo declined to run, leaving the field to a bunch of second-tier
nobodies such as Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown, and that Bill Clinton
guy, best-known for talking too long at the 1988 Democratic
The Romney rope line. The
Globe and the Herald today go with this
extremely entertaining AP story
about security in front of Governor Mitt Romney's New Hampshire
lakefront vacation spot.
Here is the
New Hampshire Sunday News
story upon which the AP
dispatch is based. Great photo of the security line in front of the
I suppose these days any
high-ranking public official is a potential target. But I wouldn't
want to be one of Romney's roped-off neighbors.
posted at 8:53 AM |
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MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.