…and it's official

What was rumored last month has now been confirmed as true. David Lee Roth did his last show on Friday, and Opie and Anthony start up on CBS radio this Wednesday. They’ll be in seven markets including Boston (on good ‘ole WBCN) and New York.

They’re back on DirectTV too.

“The uproar from fans, pleading with us to put Opie & Anthony back on the air, was deafening to say the least,” said Dan Fawcett, EVP/Programming Acquisition for DirecTV. “And though our original intent was to focus our XM service on more music, we now understand the passionate following that Opie & Anthony have and we’re happy to bring them back on board in an expanded format.”

Tax Day Post: A criticism of the flat-tax

This article isn’t great, but it’s still fairly interesting to read someone criticizing the flat tax idea as something that’s not radical enough. The only reason I felt the article was blogworthy were a number of points/quotations made near the beginning.

The US tax code — with its “nine million word mountain of verbiage” — is so complex and “littered with impenetrable passages” that a fictional tax return given by Money magazine to forty-five tax preparers resulted in forty-five different calculations of the correct amount of tax due. This is not surprising since IRS employees (Forbes says that there are 97,440 of them) don’t even give the same answers to tax questions. Forbes mentions a 2003 Treasury Department study which found that callers to the IRS toll-free help lines “gave the wrong answers to tax-related questions more than 25 percent of the time.”

Regardless of one’s take on an appropriate level of taxation, I’d assume most people agree the current tax system is amazingly screwed up. Stats like that are almost unsurprising.

Find me a bigger creep than this…

Remind me not to visit Oklahoma.

“This appears to have been part of a plan to kidnap a person, rape them, torture them, kill them, cut off their head, drain the body of blood, rape the corpse, eat the corpse, then dispose of the organs and bones,” Tompkins said.

Oh, and did I mention the victim was a little girl? This has to be among the most disturbing stories I’ve ever heard.

France opposes iTunes

Something about the iPod-iTunes relationship ruffled the feathers of economic policymakers in France. Most of the music on my iPod wasn’t bought through iTunes, and I’ve certainly used ephPod and other utilities to get songs off/on my iPod. From what I understand, they want people to be able to use iTunes with devices other than the iPod. That, to me, sounds like a slippery slope whereby any company who makes software to support their hardware would have to make sure their software works with other people’s hardware too. I’m not sure where France draws the line.

“I don’t want the crap,” [France Trade Minister Christine] Lagarde said. “It annoys me when France is portrayed as an awkward, backward country. It is not.”

Yes, it is.

While reform is needed in the labor market, French commerce is on firm footing and the economy strong, Lagarde said.

Riiight… I’m sure the labor market problems are totally unrelated to the economy. The anti-corporation attitude and 9% unemployment rate probably have nothing to do with each other and are purely coincidental. Keep up the fine work.

I also think taking iPods away from the country’s youth (who’s unemployment rate is above 20% and are already rioting) would be great for France too. How could anyone think of this behavior as “backwards”?

37 signals is at it again.

A recent post on Signals vs. Noise was reminicent of something I wrote last month.

In this post, they review a number of customer complaints and categorize them. They also make the following astute observation:

Every feature that’s missing is essential, a must-have, and the fact that it’s missing is killing someone. Yet the #1 thing that people like about our software is how simple it is.

Here they’re inferring that if they were to add the features people want, the software would become unusable and “the #1 thing people like” would be no longer. Their mantra is simplicty, and these pesky customers keep asking for stuff that might make their product less simple.

Welcome to the real world of post-release software. People want features. People use the software in different ways for different things and want different features. If you care about your customers, you will do your best to give them what they want while trying not to harm those customers who aren’t interested. If you continue pleasing customers, as say Microsoft did with Office, you may end up in a situation where “most people don’t need the full Microsoft Office collection”. You might even have a product on your hands that accounts for $10 billion in annual revenue… and that would be terrible.

Of course, it comes at a cost. Things do become more complicated, and you have to start innovating with your UI. The screenshots of the upcoming version of Office certainly reveal how much work they’ve had to do with organizing all of the features they have. When OSX was being designed, I imagine the fisheye menu at the bottom of the screen came about at least in part because they wanted to preserve screen space without making the icons tiny and hard to click on (that and to make it look sexy). It’s not a matter of limiting the product’s capabilities, it’s a matter of enhancing the product’s capabilities in response to customer demands, and trying your best not to harm usability.

For every “essential, a must-have” feature a customer asks for and 37signals refuses, there is another opportunity for a competitor to make an entrance. There are only so many opportunities you can give to competitors. There are only so many times you can tell a customer you’re not interested in helping them before they start to believe you.

Windows Hardware Requirements over time

We were having a debate on this at work, so I decided to look it up. I also projected Vista’s hardware requirements based on past trends, but they haven’t been released yet… we’ll see how close they are. Between Windows 2000 and Windows XP, everything pretty much doubled. All numbers are minimums. If Vista hits the marks below as minimum requirements, I would be very surprised.

Windows 3.1 Windows 95 Windows 98 Windows 2000 Windows XP Windows Vista (assuming linear trend)
CPU Intel 80286 386DX 486DX 66MHz Pentium 133 MHz 233 MHz 600MHz?
Memory 1MB 4MB 16MB 64MB 128MB 256MB?
Free Disk Space 6.5MB 24MB 195MB 650MB 1.5GB 3GB?

Kind of a bummer

Well, the gift site I’ve been working on has been beaten to the punch, although the site that got out first is lacking a lot of the capabilities that we determined were required for the first release. It’s probably good that it’s going to motivate us to move faster.

Also, by all means, don’t bother signing up for our future competitor 🙂