Start-up Costs: ‘Silicon Valley,’ ‘Halt and Catch Fire,’ and How Microserfdom Ate the World
Douglas Coupland’s novel Microserfs is about the spiritual yearnings and time-frittering activities of youngish coders immersed in the drudgery of the software-development process, and how those activities become an expression of those yearnings. It was published 20 years ago this month, which as far as I’m aware makes it the earliest significant stab by a fiction writer at the Great North American Tech-Company/Start-up Novel. It predates Po Bronson’s The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest, Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, Dave Eggers’s The Circle, numerous other neuroman-à-clefs, score-settling pseudomemoirs and murder-dot-com whodunits,1 as well as tech-sector TV shows like Silicon Valley and Halt and Catch Fire, serials that pick up where the novels leave off.[more inside]
The History of Autocorrect
...some of the calls were quite tricky, and one of the trickiest involved the issue of obscenity. On one hand, Word didn't want to seem priggish; on the other, it couldn't very well go around recommending the correct spelling of mothrefukcer. Microsoft was sensitive to these issues. The solution lay in expanding one of spell-check's most special lists, bearing the understated title: “Words which should neither be flagged nor suggested.”
Wired presents an extraordinary look at "one of the most ambitious search-and-rescue missions in history," after one of Microsoft's researchers, Jim Gray, and his boat, the Tenacious, went missing in the Pacific Ocean outside San Francisco in January 2007. Cartography meets law meets 2.0 technology. "First the Coast Guard scoured 132,000 square miles of ocean. Then a team of scientists and Silicon Valley power players turned the eyes of the global network onto the Pacific." Eventually, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, the US Navy, NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium jumped in – "as did astronomers from leading universities." To this day, Jim Gray has never been found, and his disappearance cannot be explained. Read Wired for more.
How to control your look of openness by Microsoft. An inside look at how Microsoft spun wired's article covering Microsoft's video site Channel 9. It's an interesting peek at how PR works.
Microsoft unleashes Palladium, an intrusive doozy of a feature involving specially secure AMD/Intel computer chips and cryptology provided by Microsoft. Newsweek's head-bobbing Steven Levy, the first to get the story, remains taciturn, failing to call into question Microsoft's security sins of the past. Geeks run scared while digital rights and GPL concerns are wholly ignored by the mainstream media. Is this yet another example of a malcontent media that will never possess the balls to actually question a new feature put out by Microsoft? Even Wired can't seem to read between the lines of a technology that "stemmed from early work by engineers to deliver digital movies that couldn't be pirated."
PC users are eeeevil! Kind of amusing story from Wired about how an observant viewer of 24 noticed that the bad guys use PCs, while the good guys use Macs.