Three things that are only related by the fact that I read them today...

>> Monday, January 28, 2008

Instead of being responsible and writerly, I really want to eat a bowl of chili, watch Timecode (one of my rentals from CafeDVD) and maybe play some Neverwinter Nights if it's not bedtime. (I might watch the Samurai Jack Season One DVD I've had lying on my shelf for months, too, now that I finally picked up the remaining three seasons and can watch the complete series.)

So, a news roundup!


Lego® Bricks are fifty years old this month! That's half a century of kids buying a box of something with a house or boat on the front and building a spaceship or man-eating robot out of the contents!

From the press release, it looks like you're supposed to call them Lego® bricks--but who didn't just call them "Legos" (and I'm leaving the ® off from now on, 'kay?).

In a lot of ways, Legos are the perfect toy. Okay, not if you eat them or put them in your nose. (Although, arguably, you could make a Darwinian argument that they're still a perfect toy in that context... nevermind.) But no, I kid about the choking hazards and upper respiratory blockages. In all seriousness, Legos are pure imagination--a box of raw material that you could turn into anything. As long as it was kind of blocky-shaped and composed of bright primary colors and didn't need too many of those flat green pieces you always seemed to run out of before you'd put enough wings on.

Cool fact in the press release: "Lego" is a contraction from the Dutch words "Leg” and “Godt.” Good for you, Dutch people: you resisted Nazism, invented Legos, and gave me my last name! Three for three! You rock!

Anyway, Legos are awesome and they're fifty. Happy birthday, Legos!


The Washington Post published the best "Scrabblegram" ever last week. I'd never heard of these things before reading this, but check out the picture.

I regret to say that I never would have gotten "subtext." Although, yes, I did make a word out of the letters in question. I should have known better, however: hyphens aren't allowed in Scrabble®.


Microsoft is apparently realizing that other people are eying their lunch, and has announced the next version of Windows will be smaller and more modular (yes, Vista has done so well, they're already making announcements about the next release). Wait... do they mean... like a *nix OS?

See, it turns out that it's not that Microsoft never learns, it's just that they learn v e r y s l o w l y. There's really not a good reason for an OS to only be installable with a 4 gig footprint. 4 gig as a feature-rich optional version, hey, okay, whatever. But an operating system ought to be configurable to, you know, operate the system without becoming the system. And there's no reason that running Windows ought to stuff Media Player down your throat. At any rate, hopefully they small-footprint edition of Windows 7 will also fix Windows' RAM issues, too.

(No, I don't use Vista: but at some point, y'know, I may get a machine to play games on--it might be nice to try NWN2, for instance.)


John the Scientist Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 10:22:00 AM EST  

So what's your professional opinion: is Microsoft a monopoly?

This layman's opinion is that I don't see a lot of difference between them and Standard Oil. Even some of the statements made by gates before Microsoft got big sound like Rockefeller.

Eric Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 9:01:00 PM EST  

That's a tricky one.

They aren't the only company producing an operating system. However, they engage in fiercely anti-competitive practices. The biggest issue has been the bootloader issue (which I attempted to write about here). Microsoft has made it virtually impossible for any hardware vendor to sell a machine that runs Windows and another operating system, which contributed to the demise of BeOS and keeps Dell (for instance) from selling dual-boot laptops that run Vista and Ubuntu.

Short answer, I guess, is that Microsoft probably doesn't meet the legal definition of "monopoly," but that doesn't keep them from acting like one, which obviously hurts the consumer in a number of ways.

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