"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Monday, April 27, 2009

Links of the Day

GeoCities To Close - One of the first free web hosting services ever is going to close its "doors" after 15 years. The service started in 1995 as "Beverly Hills Internet" before growing into the site where newbies to the fledging internet creating often loud and annoying webpages (think Myspace only not as bad) that was free due to on page advertisements that have since become the norm for the internet. Amazingly enough, Yahoo! bought the service for $4.7 billion and then proceeded to do what it has done with most of its acquisitions - nothing meaningful so that new and better services would quickly replace it. Thanks to Yahoo's every shrinking margins, they have finally pulled the plug.

GM Reveals Re-Structure Plans - Today GM has announced that as part of a plan to shed $44 billion in debt, it will cut 21,000 factory jobs, end the Pontiac brand, cut 42% of its dealerships, end production of the Saturn and Hummer lines, and attempt to offer 225 shares for $1000 in notes as a debt-for-equity swap. The swap plan is actually the key to the whole thing as the CEO has said that if that fails then the company will have to file for bankruptcy by June. Sadly, where once I was on the "save GM" bandwagon, I now believe that bankruptcy may be the only thing that can allow the company to rebuild as most of its debt deals with the various unions that were made worse by the company's belief that it didn't have to compete with foreign companies, that its name alone was enough.

Portable NES - A sign that the good times don't have to end, the FC Mobile II will be available starting in May for $60. The portable device plays the 80s era NES cartridges that can be hooked up to a TV set and comes with wireless controllers in the Super NES style and a light gun. It appears this is not an emulator but requires the cartridges to play the games. This is not licensed by Nintendo but NES patents lapsed around 2005 so lawsuits are not an issue. However, I doubt this is something you will be able to buy in stores anytime soon.

IBM's Watson to Compete On Jeopardy! - Much like its chess computer Deep Blue, Watson is designed for one purpose - win at Jeopardy against human players. However, this task is much more difficult as it requires more than just a database of information. While it is something we take for granted, the ability to take an answer and device the question requires more than just facts, it requires understanding the "answer", getting the context and taking information and putting it together, something computers don't do on their own very well. If they did, search engines wouldn't be the billion dollar industry it is now.

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