May 28

I am twitter-enabled, mainly for gaming purposes

Those of you who wish to follow me on Twitter can now do so.

You’ll find much of my Twitter content a bit strange, as I am using it mainly to play an on-line game called EchoBazaar. All the tweets labeled #ebz are game stuff.

EchoBazaar has an interesting business model: you play for free, but can buy Fate Points useful in game. I understand this has been done before, but it’s the first time I’ve encountered it.

(Someone else has twitter ID “esr”, alas.)

May 26

The Iron Laws of Network Cost Scaling

The shape of the cost curves that show up as we build and run communications networks have properties that seem counterintuitive to many people, but that have been surprisingly consistent across lots of different technologies since at least the days of the telegraph, and probably further back than that.

Herewith, the Iron Laws of Network Cost Scaling:

1. Upgrade cost per increment of capacity decreases as capacity rises.

2. Network costs scale primarily with the number of troubleshooters required to run them, not with capacity.

3. Under market pressure, network pricing evolves from metered to flat-rate.

When you learn to apply all three of these together, you can make useful qualitative predictions across a surprisingly broad set of real-world cases.

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May 25

Flattening the Smartphone Market

Common cellphone operating systems like Android, WebOS, and Maemo are depriving cellphone carriers of one of their most treasured means of keeping customers in the dark and feeding them bullshit. They’re making smartphones comparable to each other, and by doing so brutally intensifying the competitive pressure on the carriers.

Before these common platforms, one of the ways carriers had to quell customer demand for features like tethering was simply that the feature sets of different phones were difficult for customers to compare in meaningful ways, and there was no real benchmark for what a cellphone could or should do (I mean, other than make phone calls).

That’s all changed now. To see how, consider the impact of the Froyo announcement – Android 2.2. This was a feature list of what upcoming cellphones would be able to do that wasn’t censored by a carrier. Every actual Android phone offering from now on will be compared against the Froyo feature list and against all other Android cellphones. And if any come out with an Android feature disabled or available only at extra cost, the pressure won’t be on Google – it will be on the carrier.

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May 23

Now’s a bad time to be an Apple fanboy…

It’s an unhappy day for Apple fanboys. Dan Lyons Newsweek’s tech correspondent just ditched the iPhone for Android, slamming the phone and Steve Jobs’s control-freak strategy in very harsh terms.

It might be tempting to dismiss this on the grounds that Dan Lyons is, not to put too fine a point on it, a fool whose confidence in his own judgment is in inverse proportion to its quality; his gullibility about SCO’s allegations in their lawsuit against IBM became legendary, and some of the stuff he’s written about blogging is hilariously stupid. Given his track record, betting directly against his technology and market projections would be smarter than betting on them.

Yes, but…Newsweek is an awfully big megaphone. And the larger news isn’t the bad stuff that pushed him away from Apple, it’s the good stuff the pulled him towards Android. The Android 2.2 feature list is a body blow from which the iPhone, already trailing Android devices in unit sales, may not be able to recover.

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May 21

New music update

I’ve written before about what a revelation Pandora Radio has been for me. Following, in no particular order, some capsule reviews of new bands I’ve discovered and old bands I’ve rediscovered through this resource.

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May 19

Software licenses as conversation

An article published yesterday, I could license you to use this software, but then I’d have to kill you calls out some odd outliers in the open-source licensing space – odder, actually, than any I ever reviewed when I was the founding president of the Open Source Initiative. I wonder, though, if the author actually gets all the levels of the joke.

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May 11

Android Rising

The news comes to us today that in 1Q 2010 Android phones outsold Apple’s iPhone by a significant 7%. As it said on the gunslinger’s gravestone, “I was expecting this, but not so soon.”

Business Week and the Wall Street Journal are on the story, but the most interesting version is from the story they’re apparently deriving from at All Things Digital, because it includes a graph showing recent market share trends that conveys a lot more information than the present-time numbers.

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May 10

Summer sword training is coming up

This year I will once again be going to Michigan for summer sword training. I wrote about this back in 2008 in a series of posts beginning with “And So, It Begins…”. Should you make the opportunity for it, this is an amazing summer adventure vacation that will teach you much and probably leave you with lifelong friendships. I’m posting a heads-up because I think many of my regulars would find it interesting.

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May 04

How many ways can you get Android wrong in one article?

One of my regulars pointed me at Is Android Evil?, an article by one Andreas Constantinou which purports to be a brave and hardhitting contrarian take on Android.

I read this, and I’m asking myself “Wow. How many different ways can one guy be wrong in the same article?” Particularly entertaining, and the main reason I’m bothering to rebut this nonsense, is the part where Mr. Brave Contrarian Guy claims that the success of Android has nothing to do with open source and then lists three “key factors” of its success in every one of which open source is critically involved.

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May 02

G-1 to Nexus One: an informal comparison

It’s been an eventful week here at Eric Conspiracy Secret Labs, what with robot submarines busting out all over and a “Disruptive Innovation Award” from the Tribeca Film Festival (!) landing on my somewhat bemused head (possible topic of a later post). And I’m writing from Penguicon, where in about an hour I’m going to be starring in an event billed as “Jam Session with ESR – Ask Him Anything!” Whoever scheduled this for 9AM on the morning after Saturday night at a convention needs to be found and seriously hurt, but I figure anyone with enough willpower to show up at that unGoddessly hour of the morning deserves the best of me.

Which is all, in this case, a lead-in to observing that I’ve now been using a Google Nexus One under field and travel stress for about a week. The differences from the G-1 I had been carrying are, I think, suggestive about how Android-based smartphones are evolving and their competitive posture against the iPhone, Symbian, and Windows Mobile.

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