Egg on your Facebook

Hey, remember that $15bn Facebook valuation on the back of $150m in revenue but $0 in profit? It turns out that Zuckerberg's baby plans to make a net loss of $150m in 2008. Even if you take away all the spending they intend to make on servers and equipment -- which you can't do; those servers will need to be constantly replaced -- they will make only $50m, making their valuation a whopping 300x profit. And this is all assuming that their projected revenue of $300m, twice that of 2007, comes true in 2008. Good luck doing that as an ad-supported service in the middle of recession, guys.
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Like a punch in the stomach

Imagine, for a moment, that you woke up this morning to discover that the country you lived in was being invaded by China, and it looked pretty much like China was gonna win. You know that the people living in China are good people, happy people. You know that many good things come out of China. But you didn't want to live under the Chinese government. Their system is just fundamentally wrong, contrary to what you believe in, and the government has been responsible for horrific atrocities in the past that you never want to be associated with. That is what it feels like to be a web developer, working for Yahoo!, and waking up to discover that it looks very likely you are about to be purchased by Microsoft. Microsoft may be a good company, a strong company, maybe even fun to work for. But they don't get the web. Their whole corporate DNA is contrary to the culture of openness and interconnectedness that makes up the Internet and that Yahoo!, despite its many flaws, understands. A Microsoft acquisition of...
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Vote today!

Four little reasons: Do you want the first woman president to have her election tarnished by claims that she only got it because her husband was president first? Do you want your vote to say "The only way to be president is to pander to special interests for years, and be from a powerful political family"? Or do you want it to say "Anybody can be president!" Do you want the next 8 years to be shaped by someone with tons of enemies in the Republican party who will ensure nothing gets done? Or somebody who is respected by all sides as an honest, sincere, unifying force? Would you rather be lectured, or inspired?
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Okay democracy, I did my bit. Now it's your turn.

Let me tell you what it's like being an Obama "Precinct Captain", as I've been since early January. You arrive for precinct captain training, which involves being told what things work and what things don't when talking to voters: essentially, saying how you feel and what inspires you works well; policy issues generally do not, since you can't know every policy and it's seldom that your personal areas of policy will overlap with those whom you talk to. You're then given responsibility for a "precinct", essentially a group of 200-400 voters living in a single area. You're given the names and phone numbers -- via a pretty nifty web-based application -- of all the democratic or undecided voters in that area. Your job is then to call them all, one by one, and do "voter ID": simply asking if they intend to vote, and if so who for. This turns out to be a lot of work. Of 400 registered voters, a good half will be numbers out of service, and of the remainder another half will have moved or refuse to take your...
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We have more work to do

So Obama won more states and more delegates, and tied for the popular vote. Although we lost California, we're calling the night a win overall. For a challenger up against somebody with huge name-recognition, a split decision on the night when Clinton was expecting to sew up the nomination is a big win for us: even with Clinton's superdelegates (senior party members, who can change their votes at any time) her lead is now less than 100 delegates out of over 4000, less than a 3-point lead. But now all the other states are important too, so here's when to pay attention: Remaining Presidential Primary dates in 2008 February 9: Louisiana, Washington (caucus), Kansas (R) February 10: Maine (D) February 12: District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia February 19: Hawaii (D)*, Washington (primary), Wisconsin March 4: Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont March 8: Wyoming (D) March 11: Mississippi April 22: Pennsylvania May 6: Indiana, North Carolina May 13: Nebraska, West Virginia May 20: Kentucky, Oregon May 27:...
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A sight for sore eyes

Obama: now the national frontrunner, with or without superdelegates! Literally. My eyes have been killing me so much in the last few days -- almost certainly because of eyestrain from looking at screens 18 inches away all day long -- that I can barely work. I have an optician's appointment on Friday, and it can't come soon enough. However, my eyes got some rest tonight by focussing instead on a karaoke screen 6 feet away* so they're feeling a bit better. The karaoke was part of Jason's birthday, which was a really rockin' time full of clever people saying funny things, which is my favourite type of party. In other news, work was unbelievably terrible today, so much so that I'm not going to spoil the otherwise happy tone of this post with it. I might not even post about it at all. * this is actually good for them, though not as good as, say, going for a walk in the woods, which are full of things to focus on at all sorts of different distances in different directions.
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But I wouldn't want my kids to be gay

It was August of the year 2000*, and I was living in London at the height of the dot-com boom, working as a web dev for a startup. I was almost nineteen, and I was about to go on my first date. We'd met at the atrocious G-A-Y club in Soho -- I was still too young to know any better -- randomly bumping into each other on the stage and making out before we'd even exchanged names, an event that happened dozens of times a night in UK nightclubs but was still very novel to a boy from a conservative Caribbean island. I still thought a kiss was Important. We exchanged numbers, and through texts and brief calls arranged to see each other again. I was so excited. I had been buzzing all day, anticipating, telling everyone in the office. My final exchange as I left the office was like this: Me: I'm going on a date! Co-worker: Where? Me: On a date! Co-worker: I mean, where's the date? Me: Oh... a movie! (cringe) And that's all it was. A movie, the atrocious The Next Best Thing with Madonna (we were gay teenagers,...
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Poor Hillary

So I watched the democratic debate tonight, on CNN.com with the audience reaction overlay (which is incredibly fun). Here's the highlights: The candidates were so close as to make almost no difference on most issues of policy, except (a) healthcare; Barack's plan isn't compulsory, which I don't like, and (b) Iraq; Hillary has to really mince words to deal with her initial vote in favour. Hillary tried to make a point about Barack's record by mentioning a supporter who was unable to name his legislative accomplishments on live TV. Unfortunately, said supporter is a Senator from Texas and was sitting in the third row, so this was greeted by boos. Obama dismissed the ridiculous plagiarism accusations by pointing out that Deval Patrick is a member of his national campaign who encouraged him to use the words. Hillary made a lame, lame joke about "that's not change we can believe in, that's change we can Xerox". Also high negatives. The audience reaction flatlined on every single policy discussion. People do not...
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Why does my mobile phone suck so much? (Part 1)

You never meet anybody who's happy with their mobile phone service, in the same way that you don't meet people who are ecstatic about their electricity company or their water company. But, unlike those other two utilities, you do meet people -- lots of people -- who are actively annoyed with their service. Why is that? Why do our phones have stupid things we don't want and lack the things that we do, like, say, fast and cheap data, and cheap calls? And why, oh why, is this particularly true in the USA, the country that invented the mobile phone*? By all rights the USA should be years ahead of the rest of the world. But instead the market is led by companies from Asia and Europe. The answer lies in economics, and how it applies to recent technological history, with a nod to geography. The USA is a gigantic, empty country, simultaneously much bigger and significantly less crowded -- 30 people per square kilometre versus Europe's 70 -- with half the population, mitigated but not completely eliminated by the...
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Wooooo!: an American cultural institution

It's been a while since I talked about cultural differences between the US and the UK, probably because I've been so deeply assimilated so quickly. But I recently had a visitor from the UK whom I took to see the Chinese New Year parade who pointed something out: the American ability to exclaim "woo!" sincerely, and without hesitation or embarrassment. This may strike you as a little thing but I think it's a pretty fundamental difference between the USA and the rest of the world. I remember when I was in my mid-teens I used to watch MTV, and there would be these bizarre, screaming crowds of excited girls, shrieking with enthusiasm on demand. I used to wonder where they found these girls, and how much they paid them. Because nobody really acts like that. Like Tom Sawyer and Paul Bunyan, excited shrieking girls, cheerleaders and frat boys are cultural icons that don't really exist in the real world. Right? Wrong. Frat boys, with their insane hazing rituals and cries of "bro!" really do exist, despite being...
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