PDF won’t print on Lexmark

Wow, I just spent an hour troubleshooting only to realize the problem was not printer ink or settings so much as the IRS PDF file which was not printing for me.

I got it to work by printing in standard and in a smaller screen view.    So…if you have this problem I recommend first try to print a text file – if that fails you may have ink or other problems, but if it’s a PDF try messing with the printer quality settings (use standard first) and the view settings.

Why do blogs suck? A Blogging Revolution Needed?

Wait, no, I love blogs and blogging!   

However several folks in the  blog echo-chamber are suggesting correctly that there are problems with this  echo-chamber and problems with the many “me too” posts out there by people who want to be in TechMeme or otherwise get linked.     I actually think TechMeme’s got it close to right because creator Gabe Rivera has facilited the conversation algorithmically rather than allowing only the “insiders” to decide who is linked to and thus who gets to participate most actively in the tech buzz of the day. 

Tech blogging has become something of a mess even though there are advantages to having tech themes discussed ad nauseum in that I’d argue you can shake out the BS faster that way.  

Mark Evans has a thoughful post about why he thinks original blog thinking is so rare.    I don’t agree that original thinking is hard for most bloggers who tend to be a pretty thoughtful gang, but agree we don’t find enough good thinking on blogs.   Why?   Because we have created a problematic blog ecosystem that relies on human frailties and short attention spans.     I think it’s kind of a “welcome to the human race” thing and is not fixable.

 I wrote over there:

I don’t think original thought is all that difficult for many bloggers, rather most people tend to read a combination of groupthink and antagnostic dialog.  Thus the most read posts and blogs are not the most thoughtful.

I find that when I venture away from the major tech blogs I find the far more thoughtful posts – yours right here for example.

Ideally there would be a new blog revolution that would aggressively work to reconnect the thousands of new bloggers based on merit and thoughtfulness rather than old links from old sites with old thinking.  Sort of a human and algorithmic “revoting” for the best blogs.  I wonder how well the old “A list” would fare in that revote?  

Craigslist hoax computer found and taken by police

Jacksonville Oregon:

Local media is reporting they have found and taken the computer that was probably used to post the prank Craigslist hoax advertisement that led to a large property theft in Jacksonville about a week ago.    However no charges have been filed yet in the case, which has received much national attention.

Homeowner Robert Salisbury had thousands in property, including his horse, taken when a hoax listing appeared last Saturday telling people everything on the property was up for grabs.   Incredibly even when Salisbury returned home to find about 30 people rummaging through his things, he could not get several of them to stop.   They simply insisted the listing online gave them the right to take the property.

The IP address of the bogus listing is under subpoena from Craigslist who will be providing this to the Jacksonville Sheriff.    The Sheriff is currently examining the hard drive of the computer for more evidence in this case.

Medford Mail Tribune Reports:

KGW Reports:

World’s largest cities

Largest city is hard to define, but I think metro area population is the best measure and according to Wikipedia these are the top ten:

1 Tokyo Japan 32,450,000 8,014 4,049
2 Seoul South Korea 20,550,000 5,076 4,048
3 Mexico City[2] Mexico 20,450,000 7,346 2,784
4 New York City[3] United States 19,750,000 17,884 1,104
5 Mumbai India 19,200,000 2,350 8,170
6 Jakarta Indonesia 18,900,000 5,100 3,706
7 Sao Paulo Brazil 18,850,000 8,479 2,223
8 Delhi India 18,600,000 3,182 5,845
9 Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto Japan 17,375,000 6,930 2,507
10 Shanghai China 16,650,000 5,177 3,216

Surprising to me was that Shanghai and Hong Kong are both larger than Beijing which was in 16th place, and all three are smaller than New York City. (Where do all our billion+ Chinese friends live, anyway?)

Hey, I’ll be in two of the top ten over the next week! Hong Kong and Shanghai. Cool.

Hong Kong Travel Tips

Thanks to some advice from Matt at Cutler Investments I’ve started a great list of things to do in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing.     I’m also reading guidebooks and surfing but it’s always best to talk to experience travelers (or better yet, locals) who can clue you in to the “must see” tourist spots as well as the hidden gems.  

For this first trip to Hong Kong I just had him quickly list for me some of the “don’t miss” stuff and I’m fleshing this in as I go with details as I find more things to see – this is as much for my reference as anything else. 

Stanley Market

Fishing Villages via Ferry, where they’ll fix the fish you choose at a local restaurant.   Aberdeen has many places like this plus the monster brightly lit floating restaurant called ?   The food there is not great but OK.

Star Ferry Hong Kong to Kowloon.   This is the one often cited for great views of the Hong Kong skyline.

Nathan Street Night Market

Double Decker bus.   Take it from Wau Chai sp?  over the mountain.   Get the upstairs front seat for the best dramatic views and experience as it whizzes through traffic and over steep cliffsides.    I think we can get on this near our first hotel, the Island Pacific Hotel, right off the main road that forms a crescent around Victoria Harbor.

Trams:  There is one to Victoria Peak and another I’m not yet clear about.

Lei Yu Mun

Temple Street Market

Top 14 Must-See Sights from Oriental Travel:

Victoria Peak

Ocean Park

Ladies Street

Temple Street


Star Ferry

Tsing Ma Bridge

Po Lin Monastery & Tai O


Mai Po Natural Area

Central District

Happy Valley

360 Ngong Ping  Hong Kong Disneyland

Central District (then to Star Ferry)

Star Ferry Small green and white ferries link Central District on Hong Kong Island with Tsim Shs Tsui. 10 minutes.Aberdeen : Hong Kong Tsai – traditional fishing village. Boat-dwellers in the Aberdeen Bay, shuttling with sampan along the Bay. Jumbo Floating Restaurant and the Tai Bak (Tai Bei) Seafood Boat in Aberdeen Habour. Free travel by ferry boat to the restaurants, then to old Hong Kong Tsai Street and to the Hung Shing (God of the South Seas and weather prophet) Temple at the juncture of the sea lane and the land road, and the Tin Hau Temple

Victoria Peak “funicular” Tram.Double Decker Bus Ride

Ding ding rail tram across north side of Island – sit upstairs.Ngong Ping Cable Car: spectacular 5.7km bi-cable. From Tung Chung, cross Tung Chung Bay, angle station on Airport Island, turning in air towards North Lantau.

The Po Lin temple (Big Buddah! & Tai O fishing village:
On Lantau Island – take the Ngong Ping Cable car?
Temple Street “men’s street bazaar”. Between Yau Ma Tei and Jordan. Men clothing, watches etc. Chinese opera at end of banyan trees. Bustling like a night club. The Tung Choi Street is also known as Ladies Street and has women’s clothing, handbags, etc for sale.

CNET SWOT Analysis

CNET is back in the news as today brings layoffs and ominous internal memos so I thought I’d put out this CNET SWOT analysis I did over at the Techdirt Insight Community not so long ago:


CNET Strengths:

Brand awareness and brand respect.   CNET has been one of technologies most recognizable and respected brands for many years, and continues to maintain the high respect of the technology community.

Writers.  CNETs technology writing and analysis is recognized as some of the best in technology.  Unbiased reviews and authoritative articles from seasoned technology journalists are the mainstay of CNETs content. 

Editorial staff.  CNETs reputation for editorial and quality control is unsurpassed in the industry.   

Dan Farber promotion.  Dan Farber is one of technologies most informed and seasoned professionals.   As a blogger who is extensively familiar with and actively participating in social media Dan was a great choice to help guide CNET into a more aggressive social networking posture.

Huge internet traffic.  CNET remains one of the most visited news sites on the internet.

High revenues with potential for high profitability.   CNET’s revenues are strong despite significant earnings declines in the past year. Zacks analysis suggests a modest profit downturn in the coming year, but CNET is still generating very substantial revenues and some profits.   Under a JANA acquisition scenario the aggressive management for profit could boost earnings significantly. 

CNET Weaknesses:

Labor intensive content production.  CNET’s quality writers and editors are her blessing and her curse.   Writers cost money and good writers, collectively, cost a lot of money.    Blogging and the social media revolution have led to an online environment that creates a tidal wave of quality tech-focused content every day at very low average cost per article.

News delays.   Although CNET remains very current, it simply cannot always compete with the 24/7/365 blogging community that is posting (and increasingly scooping) CNET and other media outlets when technology news breaks.  Again, the editorial standards force CNET to delay where bloggers and online journals will report first and ask questions later.  The practice is questionable from a journalism point of view, but usually it is just fine for advertisers and certainly helps with traffic generation as the early reports often garner the most page views. 

Earnings declines.   CNETs earnings are down significantly, placing huge pressure on the company to cut costs and increase monetization for content.    CNETs early success may have led them to incorrectly assume they would remain unchallenged in the tech news space where they are under pressure from both bigger players like Yahoo and smaller players like TechCrunch.

CNET Opportunities:   

Socialism!   CNET’s attempts to build an online CNET-centric community at the website have been modest and in many ways have failed.    With a sterling brand and reputation, CNET is in a great position to leverage the existing tech-centric user base into a number of community endeavors.   One small example would be to create more niche CNET communities online and then evangelize these communities via CNETs advertising as well as Facebook, Myspace, and other social media powerhouses.   Even more powerful would be to facilitate the creation of much more reader-driven content.   For example make registration for CNET simpler with just an email signup and encourage far more guest articles.   Digg style rankings for CNET articles would be another positive step in this direction.  

Be more like TechCrunch.  Mike Arrington has brilliantly leveraged the fast pace of internet journalism, modest journalism standards, advertisement flexibility, and most importantly the powers of social media.   Where TechCrunch initially produced content at a fraction of the cost of CNET using freelance writing and little office overhead, it also distributed and monetized this content in more powerful ways such as massive emailings and very aggressive social media participation and real socializing.   Once again however CNETs high journalistic standards provide some barriers here.   

JANA board coup:  If JANA succeeds in the fight to change the direction of CNET, and this appears likely, a new focus on monetization and innovation will lead to a stronger and more viable CNET.     Unfortunately profitability is probably going to call for a reduction in journalistic standards and quality coverage, but from a company health perspective CNET is likely to benefit from a leaner, faster, broader, but more superficial approach to tech news coverage.

CNET Threats: 

Diminished advertising revenues.   The coming recession may not hit online advertising as hard as some other sectors but online advertising spending growth is likely to slow in the coming year and possibly even go down.   Financial sectors, for example, were huge spenders last year and may be unable to continue spending at the same levels due to the housing crisis.  

Blogging and the social media revolution.   These represent a substantial threat to CNETs long term prospects and profitability.   Blogs and non-traditional media coverage are generating huge volumes of quality content every day, and technology focused content is especially abundant since blogging’s early adopters tended to be technology enthusiasts.  Bloggers are increasingly respected as quality journalists and analysts who in some cases have more expertise than the technology journalists that are covering the same story, product, or events.   Yet the average cost to produce a blogged story is effectively zero as many bloggers are writing simply for the fun of coverage and the internet soapbox.   Monetization of blogs is also becoming easier and more lucrative in the form of Google Adsense per click advertising as well as projects like Federated Media which match publishers to advertisers – a service for which advertisers are increasingly willing to pay a high premium.

A Google aquisition of CNET?

Despite the reasonable assumption that CNET has significant potential for a valuation far beyond current capitalization of approximately 1 billion,  I consider a Google aquisition *unlikely*.      Google’s actions and stated intention for many years have been to concentrate on content *monetization* and avoid content production.    Also, Google stresses the value of machine scalability which is not compatible with the labor intensive content and editorial style of CNET.   

That said, I think that CNET and Google cultures would be fairly compatible.  Not because they are similar but because they would have a high degree of mutual respect as leaders in their respective fields.  Where Google is relaxed, fast paced, and extremely innovative CNET culture appears to be more formal, professional, and along the lines of a traditional journalism environment with attention to detail, high journalistic standards, and an older workforce.    This is probably an acceptable recipe for a comfortable working relationship.

CNET Linkage:JANA Board Fight:

Zacks YHOO summary:

Dept. Justice: XM Sirius Merger won’t be an Anti-Trust Problem

A merger of XM and Sirius satellite radio networks will not create anti-trust conditions according to the US Justice Department. Today’s decision is likely to pave the way for a full merger approval soon, which will need to come from the Federal Communications Commission.

Many feel the government has been dragging its regulatory feet on the merger given concerns expressed by the radio lobby and several prominent US Congress members including John Conyers.

With the Justice Department’s OK it would be unusual for the FCC not to follow along and grant merger approval to Sirius and XM, who claim the merger will increase business efficiencies and provide more choice for their combined radio audiences. The radio industry worries that the merger will lead to anti-competive programming and advertising activity by what will become the world’s largest and highest reach radio network.

Source: Reuters

ASUS, eee PC, and cheap computing: Watch this company!

I’m very impressed with my eee PC so far and it appears ASUS has a lot more cleverness in store including a 200 desktop and a larger ultra mobile computer in May.     This is an interesting play in that they are breaking ground in two computing areas that may have a lot of potential:  mobile internet computers for business and personal use and cheap desktops to capture the market of the millions who have one computer and want more or don’t have one at all.    The brilliancy here is that ASUS has set the price points so low that they are really no barrier to purchase.     Other UMPCs have been so expensive that the viability of buying one for the x/365 number of days a businessperson needs one was very limited, but at $300 for the cheapest eee PC  most traveling onliners can hardly afford to be without one until perhaps mobile phone technology creates usable keyboards and comfortably viewable screens. 

I recently wrote an analysis of the Airbook, suggesting it would have limited appeal.    Technically it is not a UMPC but it’s close, and I was also skeptical of much growth in the UMPC market.   However, as prices plummet things could change considerably as even school kids may start to sprout eee PCs as an alternative to tiny mobile phone surfing and higher priced, heavier, and clunkier laptops.   

ASUS appears to be a privately held Taiwan company, so … no stock available on public exchanges.