Office UI Giveaway: What's Old Is New Again

Microsoft announced a plan to let software developers use the Office User Interface royalty-free to build apps that should be easy to learn -- provided you are adept at Office (I still find Word to be about the most difficult app to fully master, and sometimes even keep under control).

Looks to me like Microsoft flaks are recycling press releases. A decade or so ago, when I wrote for InfoWorld, Microsoft announced what seems to be the exact same thing. As I recall, some folks like Visio hopped onboard, while competitors like Lotus and WordPerfect politely declined.

Live Search Lagging
Recent research shows that despite having a brand-new search engine, Microsoft continues to lose ground to Google. And you know why? Because Microsoft's Live Search isn't as good. I made the vain move of Googling myself (admit it, you do it to!), and came up with 18,700 results. Live Search crushed my ego with only 3,527 pages. I'm not switching till Live has at 20,000 Barney hits.

The Amiga Isn't Dead, It's Just Frozen
Before he died, Bill Hicks accused Denis Leary of stealing his material (apparently, Hicks was the only comedian who ever joked about smoking). Now I'm going to steal some of Leary's stuff.

The Amiga's not dead, it's just frozen, and when it thaws out it's going be pretty #@#543&*!! You know what it's like to take a cold shower? Well, multiply that 15 million times and that's how #@#543&* the Amiga is going to be.

Fortunately, Amiga fans have Bill Panagouleas, CEO of DiscreetFX, a computer video company. Bill (it's easier to call him Bill than it is to retype Panagouleas) hopes to complete a documentary about trans fat (a fatter version of "Super Size Me"?) and use the profits to buy out Amiga Inc., which owns the intellectual property behind the dead but surprisingly modern machine. Once all these things happen, Panagouleas -- I mean, Bill -- will heat up the Amiga's frozen remains and bring it back to the living.

If that works, maybe Bill can revive Walt Disney and Ted Williams, as well.

Oh, if you want an Amiga, but don't trust the 15-year-old machines for sale on eBay, just run the old software through an emulator (nothing beats DeluxePaint III for graphics, I always say!). Bill says you can get the emulator here.

Zune Zune Zuna Zuna
Craig Ferguson is not my favorite talk show host (he was the annoying English boss in the "Drew Carey Show"), but he did a mildly amusing riff on the Zune. Ferguson assumes the Zune is inferior to the iPod. Just looking at the features list, I have the opposite impression. Have you used both? What do you think? And what gizmos are you asking for/buying this holiday season? Let us know at [email protected].

Doug's Mailbag: Showdown in California, Thoughts on Gates' Philanthropy
I stand corrected! It was, in fact, the California Supreme Court -- not the U.S. Supreme Court, as I had written originally -- that made a ruling protecting Internet bloggers and posters against libel suits over statements that they only reposted. Thanks for catching my mistake -- and for adding your 2 cents:

This ruling was from the California Supreme Court and not the U.S. Supreme Court. While that may set precedent in some jurisdictions, it is not necessarily the law of the land. Should this ruling be appealed, I believe it would be referred to a federal Supreme Court for consideration.

The court's ruling makes perfect sense to me. It seems an acknowledgement that the public as consumers of such an untrustworthy news source would be tremendously foolish to put much faith in its veracity, therefore its 'targets' need less protection from libel. They already know that WE know that most bloggers are just full of it. So let's not worry about it. Any random moron can spout off about anything they want, and just because they may know how to 'game' this emerging media, they can effectively have the same audience as a major metropolitan newspaper.

They are, in effect, telling us that blogs are mainly entertainment sources; believe them far less than you would the Sun or Enquirer. I'm down with that; I don't trust anything I read that doesn't show evidence of integrity, or gives lip service at least to some sort of editorial policy.


Blogs are like walls and telephone poles to me. Do we sue the building owner or telephone company because someone posts a defamatory notice? Of course not. However, they can tear down those notices any time they choose. As no one is free to slander or libel others, perhaps Web sites should disallow anonymous postings. Someday, we'll have an authentication method that will prove people are who they say they are, or else they can't post to legitimate messaging media. Let them post to the 'checkstand gossip rag' sites, and we'll turn our noses up (while we scan them!).

You may have got this one wrong. The California court upheld the fact that bloggers and participants in Internet bulletin board groups cannot be sued for posting defamatory statements made by others. If the blogger himeself/herself attempts to defame someone, they would, I imagine, still be held liable.

Of course there is scope for misuse -- someone asking their friend to post defamatory remarks they made about someone else, but I am sure the lawyers will find a way to handle that scenario.


The original writer of the piece is still liable for the statements. The court case makes sense by simply posting the comment should not bring liability to the person who reposted it. It seems fair at the original writer is liable and posting creates more liability for that original writer statement.

Oh, what a slippery slope, indeed! I can understand the reasoning to a point. The original 'author' of the libelous statement can still be held responsible, so all one needs is to have an intermediary post a knowingly libelous statement and the originator is immune! It seems that this provides a means for evil to prevail over those whose opinions another finds offensive.

My mother used to teach me, "If you don't have some worthwhile to say, then don't say it." What she was trying to teach me was to take responsibility for my words. This is especially true in the cyber era where one's words can travel around the world at the speed of a fiber optic cable. Nothing moves as fast and causes as much damage as a rumor and lies.

ISPs should not police or censor -- common sense and decency should. ISPs should have true identities for their bloggers, if what the blogger is saying can be proven false. No one should be allowed to put words to 'print' without being held responsible for them. Yes, the blogger needs to be held to the same standard as any writer. Either put you money where you mouth is or just shut up.


And finally, my piece yesterday about Gates' philanthropy got Tom to thinking:

Had an ironic thought about the Gates report. I wonder what the Linux community will do to match the Great Satan of Microsoft? Will they have any response at all? Maybe the hundred thousand free spirits will give up a latte once a week for world peace or to cure cancer.

I'd be the last to claim that big corporations or government agencies don't sometimes do stupid, duplicitous or evil things. It seldom, though, is useful or even accurate to claim that the personalities in charge are much worse than ignorant. Hardly anyone gets up every morning planning to be wicked. The most common moral failing is indifference.

A couple of friends of mine have worked with and gotten to know a local celebrity, Jimmy Carter. They report that he is very smart, a decent man and a hell of a nice guy. He is also incredibly naive about some things in the world. Before he got involved in the Habitat project, he truly didn't know that some people live in crappy housing because nobody cares and that there are obstacles placed in the way of their self improvement, by zoning commissions and mortgage bankers.

Let me know what you think! Comment below or drop me a line at [email protected].

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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