Can Any Of Us Review Anything Fairly?

If you have not seen the clip on YouTube which involved Leo Laporte blowing up at Mike Arrington on the Gilmore Gang on June 6, 2009, take a look at it. These two techno nerds brought up an interesting fact. Can anyone really review any product fairly?

Behind this debate are some facts. If a company sends a product to you for free, is it a conflict of interest when you review the product with a positive review? How about if you buy a product with your own money and review the product? Is that a better way to handle a review?

What started the argument between the two technology people mentioned above, was the fact that Laporte had a Palm Pre in his hand. Arrington questioned where he got it from since he was not able to secure the Palm Pre before its scheduled release date. The blow up continued as Laporte was questioned if the Palm Pre was given to him for free which caused a flurry of swear words from Laporte.

But how does one review a product without spending their own money on buying it? Can one still provide a fair review if the item is presented for free evaluation? The reason I am curious on how you the reader feel i that it will dictate which product reviews I will take on.

I have received free software for review and hopefully have been fair in my evaluations.

Let me know what you think?

Comments welcome.


If Windows 7 Pricing Is Higher, Will Anyone Buy It?

windows 7, microsoftRumor has it that Dell is reporting that the pricing for Windows 7 could be higher than previous versions such as Vista and XP. If true this could cause a buyers backlash for the new operating system. In a time where the economy is in the crapper, when unemployment is approaching an all time high, when …… well you get my drift.

If Microsoft believes that increasing the price of Windows 7 will help their bottom line, this type of thinking could back fire. There are a lot of folks still using XP who are happy to keep their old reliable OS working. The people who were saddled with Vista, depending on which position you take on this OS, may be gun shy when it comes to upgrading to Windows 7.

Though it is early to pre-judge Microsoft until a positive pricing policy is in place, one can only hope that pricing will be fair and take into account the current economy.

What do you think? Will you pay a higher price for Windows 7?

Comments as always are welcome.


Is P2P File Sharing Really Fair Use?

A Harvard Law professor by the name of Charles Nesson states that P2P file sharing is fair use. He bases his claim on current law and has testified in court.  The bases of his contention is this:

Wholesale copying of music on P2P networks is fair use. Statutory damages can’t be applied to P2P users. File-swapping results in no provable harm to rightsholders.

These are just some of the assertions that Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson made last week in his defense of accused file-swapper Joel Tenenbaum. In court filings, Nesson spelled out his defense strategy, which doesn’t appear to involve claims that his client “didn’t do it.” Instead, Nesson argues that it doesn’t matter if Tenenbaum copied music; such noncommercial uses are presumptively “fair” and anyone seeking to squeeze file-swappers for statutory damages is entitled to precisely zero dollars.

The strategy certainly doesn’t lack for boldness. In making the case that statutory damages only apply to commercial infringers, Nesson says that his reading of the law is “constitutionally compelled.” His most interesting argument is that the law offers rightsholders the chance to seek either statutory or actual damages, but that the two are meant to be equivalent.

“It would be a bizarre statute indeed that offered two completely unrelated remedies,” he writes, “one which granted actual damages and lost profits, and the other of which granted plaintiffs the right to drive a flock of sheep across federal property on the third day of each month.”

Wow! That is interesting. Even more interesting if the court buys it. There is more:

It’s all fair use

In any event, all of this statutory damages talk doesn’t matter, because Nesson claims that Tenenbaum’s use of the songs at issue here was “fair use” and thus not an infringement at all. It’s a gutsy move to claim that wholesale downloads of complete copyrighted works for no purpose higher than mere enjoyment of music somehow satisfies the famous “four factor test” for fair use claims, but Nesson believes he can win over a jury.

So what are the ‘four factor test?’

The four factors judges consider are:

  1. the purpose and character of your use
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.

So what do you think? Can this legal legalese work?

Comments welcome.


  • Google Improves Blog Searching

    Google has finally decided to upgrade their blog search and have added new features that rival Techmeme. Google has a clean blog listing which also includes the number of blog articles as well a listing time of the last blog post. But what makes Google Blog Search even better is the ability to locate older posts. Over a Techmeme, the posts seem to disappear off the screen and the user needs to try and locate older posts via the Techmeme archive.

    When I first saw the new Google site, I immediately liked the way it was setup. It follows a similar format that Google uses for their news articles. I also liked how blog posts were categorized by subject as well. Some are stating that the new format could be a Techmeme slayer or killer, but I feel that Google is another blog search option that can be used by bloggers and non-bloggers alike.

    In one article I just read they stated:

    Techmeme focuses on very reputable blogs. That means that spammers find it hard to show up on Techmeme, which is great. But it also means that you’re more likely to see posts from the same A-list sites often, so you don’t get as much diversity. Techmeme tends to select the “best of the best” stories; on the Blogsearch home page, you can keep clicking the Next button until you get tired of going deeper. On an individual story on the Blogsearch home page, you’re more likely to see a lot of different voices, not just the top-of-the-pile blogs. For example, for the “Apple drops parts of its NDA” story, I count 38 posts about it on Techmeme and 121 posts on the Blogsearch home page:

    This it itself should help those new bloggers to get their blog articles listed. The best part about the new Google Blog Search is that it appears to a a fairer system for all bloggers. But what do you think?

    Comments welcome.


    Google Blog Search site.

    Googlers Take On Company Day Care Costs

    Is some of the magic at Google starting to fade? Is the company who’s motto is ‘Do No Evil’ starting to falter? You decide after reading this story. It seems that one of the perks of working at Google is the fact that day care is provided on Google’s property by trained staff. Cost for the pro care is a whopping $1,425 a month. But the price hit a not so ‘do no evil’ price of $2,500 a month.

    I am sure we all agree that Google pays their people well. But $2,500 a month sounds just a little high to me.  The Google employees staged a min revolt over the increase and win a semi win in which the price will be tiered over a period of time but will still hit the high number down the road. In the story it states:

     Under the new plan, parents with two kids in Google day care would most likely see their annual day care bill grow to more than $57,000 from around $33,000.

    At the first of the three focus groups, parents wept openly. As word leaked out about the company’s plan, the Google parents began to fight back. They came up with ideas to save money, used the company’s T.G.I.F. sessions — a weekly meeting for anyone who wanted to ask questions of Google’s top executives — to plead their case, and conducted surveys showing that most parents with children in Google day care would have to leave Google’s facilities and find less expensive child care.

    Do you think you know how this story ends? You’re probably guessing that because it involves “do no evil” Google, Fortune magazine’s “Best Company to Work For” the past two years, this is a heart-warming tale of a good company reversing a dumb decision.

    Also this:

    “There are many things about Google that are not great, and merit improvement,” blogged Sergey Solyanik, who recently returned to Microsoft after a stint at Google. “There are plenty of silly politics, under performance, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness, and things that are plain stupid.” Starting, it would appear, with day care.

    Excuse me. $57k for two kids? I know it’s the SF Bay Area but that sounds just a little high. The kids are not going to Stanford. It is day care. I think Google should really take a hard look at the pricing and come up with a pricing that is fair for the company and parents.

    What do you think?

    Comments welcome.


    FCC To ISP – You Will Be Spanked

    The chairman of the FCC has stated that the agency is ready to punish some of the ISP’s that secretly control users web traffic. Though not specifically mentioning any names [Comcast], it is fairly common knowledge that one of the big cable providers was caught doing just that. Consumers have complained to the FCC that the cable giant does throttle back their connections when they are online and have cited file sharing restrtions imposed by the cable company. In an article it states:

    “The commission is ready, willing and able to step in if necessary to correct any practices that are ongoing today,” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in opening statements of the hearing at Harvard Law School´s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

    Martin said service providers should be allowed to take reasonable steps to make efficient use of their networks at a time when consumers´ growing appetite for Web video threatens to bump up against networks´ capacity limits. But he said such management policies must be disclosed.

    “Consumers need to know if and how network management practices distinguish between different applications, so they can configure their own applications and systems properly,” Martin said.

    Consumer groups and a provider of online video have filed complaints alleging Comcast hampered traffic between users without notice, violating the Internet´s tradition of equal treatment of traffic. Two of the groups also asked the FCC to fine Comcast.

    The issue got broad attention after an Associated Press story in October documented Comcast´s practices. Comcast later acknowledged that it sometimes delays file-sharing traffic for subscribers as a way to keep Web traffic flowing for everyone.

    The bottom line seems to be that any ISP must disclose to their users their intent to throttle connections if they use such sites that share files.

    Do you think this is fair?

    Comments welcome.

    Full article is here.

    [tags]fcc, isp, comcast, throttle, file, sharing, websites, fair, connection,  [/tags]

    Google's 'Do No Evil' Policy Doesn't Apply To Electricity

    I guess none of us never really thinks about it, but every time we do a Google search, thousands of servers [computers] whiz into action. All of this server power needs electricity to function. During the past decade or so, Google has amassed the largest amount of servers the world has ever seen. But now the question becomes: who is paying for all of the electricity these servers use? According to a Harpers magazine article, we are. Seems that good old G.W. has pushed for electrical subsidies so you and I will be paying for YouTube and the like. Sounds fair to me.

    The article goes on to state that other big companies like Microsoft, Yahoo!, and others are also going to reap the benefit of cheap electricity. One would think that companies of this size with their wealth would pay a fair rate for the electricity they use and not have us pay to help them amass more money.

    What do you think? Is it fair when companies like Google that amass billions of dollars are able to get cheap electricity paid for by us citizens?

    You may want to give this some thought when you enter into the polling booth this November and select who you want to be as your next President. Just a thought.

    Comments welcome.

    Complete Harpers article is here.

    [tags]google, electricity, cheap, subsidies, billions, servers, farm, wealth, pay, fair, share, [/tags]

    Review Slams Ubuntu Fiesty Fawn – Version 7.04 – But Was It A Fair Review?

    I just got finished reading a review of Ubuntu Fiesty Fawn  version 7.04 over at ExtremeTech written by Jim Lynch, in which he was highly critical of the new Linux distribution and basically slammed it with some mediocre reasoning. Though he mentions that he wants to like the distribution, he then goes on to rant about several issues he found that just were to unbearable for him to live with. As a example he mentions that Firefox didn’t come with flash, which has nothing to do with Ubunutu.

    There was some other dribble about not being able to install NVidia drivers correctly which in one of the comments it was pointed out that he didn’t do the install the correct way, which just went to show his lack of knowledge of Linux. But what was disturbing about the entire article was that comparing any operating system to any other is purely subjective and is only one persons opinion. The review was supposed to be about Ubuntu Fiesty Fan version 7.04 and not Vista, Xandros or a Mac.

    Here is my gripe in a nutshell. If you are going to write about any operating system write about the specifics of that OS and not in comparison to other operating systems. In the end it was quite obvious that this writer was most likely a Mac head to begin with.

    He first states that Ubuntu was worse than Vista  because Vista detected his video card and installed the correct driver. I wonder how many people are still waiting for the correct Vista driver to get their video card working after upgrading to Microsoft’s new OS?

    Then he states for a real Linux experience you should try Xandros. But in the next breath it is Linux might not be ready for the desktop so buy a Mac.

    You can take a look at the entire review here.

    What is your opinion? Is this a fair review or is it biased?

    Comments welcome.

    [tags]ubuntu, review, biased,fair,  [/tags]