Gates Courts Blogger

Bill Gates wrote to me regarding the latest thinking by Microsoft (ok so its a Microsoft marketing ploy to make me think that Chairman Bill cares even for heretics like me) and some of their partners to curb spam. The mail is interesting, however I have a few concerns:

– the industry initative lacked networking manufacturers like Nokia, Juniper or Extreme Networks

– no computing powerhouses like Sun Microsystems, Oracle, IBM, Apple

– there was no reference to non-windows PC users (Mac, Unix, Linux, Symbian smartphones, PalmOS etc)

– there is no independent experts on the panel like Phil Zimmerman

From: billgates at

Subject: Preserving and Enhancing the Benefits of Email – A Progress Report

Date: 28 June 2004 21:47:34 BST

To: gedcarroll at

During the past year, Microsoft has taken a number of important steps to help curb the epidemic of junk email, which is a major headache for computer users worldwide. We’ve made significant progress, including blocking more than 95 per cent of all incoming junk email – an average of 3 billion messages a day – on Hotmail. But more work remains to be done. We’re committed to finding additional ways to counter this costly nuisance.

Over the next 12 months, we will begin to introduce several additional innovative technologies and processes that should further reduce the volume of junk email reaching customers’ inboxes. Because you’ve subscribed to receive executive emails from us, I’d like to update you on what we’re doing in this area. On the Web at, I’ve posted an in-depth explanation of Microsoft’s technology vision and strategy for ending the junk email epidemic as a major problem. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it.

Thank you.

Bill Gates

Apple Puts a Tiger In Its Tank

Steve Jobs live keynote presentation at Apple WWDC laid out by MacObserver here.

For those of you too young to remember the put a tiger in your tank reference try here and here. My old man used to have an Esso tiger soft toy (which were common in the 1960’s and had it attached to the parcel shelf having wired its eyes with christmas light bulbs connected up to the brake lights and indicators on his Ford Anglia in order to get them to light up). In these days before fire retardant fabrics and safety standards on toys it remains a miracle to me that he did not die from the smoke of an electrically ignited faux tiger fire.

Tech Sector Not Coming Out To Play

We now have a generation who are happy to type their own business letters, manage their own diary, develop their own scenario planning and accept IT as an essential part of a business as electricity, heating and stationery.

IT no longer matters, its a utility.

Value isn’t being driven into the business by automation and business process engineering like 20 years previously, projects are still failing 70 per cent of the time and for most companies IT is not providing a competitive edge vis-a-vis their competitors. So companies are looking to cut their bills in line with standard procurement procedures:

– buy only what you need

– at the cheapest price (there are many ways to define this such as total cost of ownership)

– get it done overseas if its cheaper

Because of this enterprise IT companies are struggling to achieve high organic growth figures and they’re rejecting the old ways of doing things. One of the old ways to bite the dust is the Comdex ‘Fall’ exhibition in Las Vegas. For a week Vegas became the IT mecca.

Expect a downturn in the sectors involved in trade show give-aways such as mousemats,

t-shirt printing and coffee mugs.

Plaxo Is the New Google?

Plaxo is a useful addition to the arsenal of the knowledge worker. We go through lives developing thousands of connections but probably only keep in regular contact with a couple of hundred. With Plaxo you complete an account and update it if you move jobs, that way your looser network can keep up to date if they are members of Plaxo too.


– Cheap, free software, you only pay for support. That also means limited growth


– Only works with Outlook, so not great for people orientated businesses like the creative industries, how about conduits for Lotus Notes, Entourage and Apple iSync?

– Privacy concerns, where there’s data there’s risk and businesses are increasingly using online services to run their businesses; it makes sense for consumers to use similar services to run Me, Inc. Privacy restrictions makes it harder for Plaxo to monetise customer data held

– Is reliant on a critical mass of users; Plaxo only updates less than 9 per cent of my contacts and its user base does not seem to be expanding at the rate of Friendster or LinkedIn

Anyway, make up your own mind by watching an interview on CBS Marketwatch with the founders

Tear it Down and Put it Back Together Again? is a special kind of business consultancy. They take apart gadgets, work out how they work, a component count, a complete list of materials, cost out how much they cost to make and critique the product design. A sort of cut-price reverse engineering. You can buy their reports singlely or subscribe to their service. A quick warning, its not cheap to buy gadgets take them apart, have the time to research costs and the know-how to understand what you are seeing.

One of the most interesting things they have done is looked at mobile phones from throughout the world. The results have been very interesting.

The latest 3 G phones on sale in Europe are more complex than those sold in Japan. They have double the amount of parts in them, they cost more to make and are still underperforming handsets that work on existing mobile phone networks. Full details of this research can be found here (warning: a cubicle full of techy jargon a-hoy).

NEC, an experienced 3G phone manufacturer came in for particular criticism. Their phone had four times as many components as an equivalent present day phone and twice as many as the equivalent Nokia 3G phone. A case of Japanese not-knowing-how? As a three customer it is not particularly satifying to know that my lemon of an NEC e606 mobile phone is heavier and more sophisticated than it needs to be! Still my contract runs out on August 28 and I already started counting the days.