Renting Microsoft Office? No Thanks

Yikes. The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft will begin an experiment next month renting Microsoft Office at Internet cafes in New York City’s Times Square. According to the report they’re going to charge $2 per session for using Microsoft Office.

That ridiculously high fee looks even worse when you consider that’s on top of the hourly fees at the Internet cafe,

The Microsoft software rental program will debut in easyEverythingÂ’ s New York facility and later be available in its existing cafes in Europe. The charge for using the software comes on top of easyEverythingÂ’s time-based usage fees, which currently range from 17 pence (27 cents) an hour in the middle of the night to 3 British pounds ($4.31) an hour during peak periods. Currently, easyEverything customers can use MicrosoftÂ’s scaled-down Works suite of software without paying an extra fee.

I don’t think consumers will stand for this. One of the places i occasionally use while traveling is Kinko’s which usually has pretty nice Windows boxes complete with the latest software such as Photoshop, Office, etc., at pretty decent prices (they are often more expensive than the cyber cafes, to be sure). If I have to pay an additional per-session fee for using an Office application or any other application, the price would be far too high and I’d either avoid using such places or ask for the machine with Star Office installed, thank you very much.

Contrary to the U.S. courts I don’t think Microsoft has anything close to a software monopoly and if it tries to charge monopoly-like prices, Microsoft will quickly find out that it needs Office users far more than Officer users need it.

Letting Me Down Easy

About a year ago I signed up several of my smaller sites to carry ad banners served up by Teknosurf which later became Advertising.Com. I was kind of surprised they were even interested since the page views for the three sites couldn’t have been over 1,500 per day combined, even on very good days.

Finally they came to their senses and earlier this month sent me a polite e-mail saying that these three sites didn’t generate enough page views and if they weren’t over a certain level by the end of October they would be dropped (and there’s now way I was going to get where they wanted by then end of October — next October probably, but not this year).

So after Tuesday, no more of their ads on those three sites. What impressed me, however, was they’re going to pay me for any revenue on any of the sites that was over $5 cumulative. Believe me when you’re dealing with ad companies who specialize in placing banner ads on smaller sites, that sort of commitment is pretty rare. I’ve run across quite a few people who never got paid a single dime for running hundreds of thousands of banner ads (and the company never had any intent on paying up).

In fact at every point along the way the Advertising.Com people have been nothing but professional and I wouldn’t hestitate to recommend them to anyone (since my page view level on those sites were so low, however, I have no idea how good they are at selling targeted ads as opposed to low paying run of network fare).

Finally, I’m Not Sick

It seems like it took forever, but I finally managed to kick the bronchitis that’s plagued me since the end of September. Basically for the last 6 weeks my life has been get up, go to work, come home, collapse on couch, repeat. This weekened I got home Friday around 6 p.m. and didn’t leave the couch until this morning at 6 a.m. (did get to watch most of the AMC horror movie festival, though — excellent).

Still got a few cobwebs in my head but I can actually use my lungs again. Take a deep breath! Exhale. Ahhhh!

Now I can get around to doing some neat things I had planned on doing with the site back in September.

Should Radiohead Thank Napster?

Writing for MP3Newswire, Richard Menta claims that Radiohead’s recent debut at #1 is due in large part to the album being available on Napster 3 months before it was scheduled to be released. According to Menta this sort of music never shows up on Billboard charts usually.

Sure, that’s why Nirvana had such success with their first major label release — because it was on Napster first (oops–no Napster? How did they ever sell CDs in the old days). In fact Radiohead’s debut is due to the immense publicist surrounding the album. I’ve never heard a Radiohead song or care about the group’s music, but even I’ve run across publicity for their latest album.

Besides the real argument against Napster is its long-term effects. Of course you have to out and by the CD now. Why? Because portable MP3 players are still too expensive and/or lack important features. Unless you’ve got a lot of money and/or patience, it’s not very easy to play MP3s outside of the computer environment.

MP3 devices are getting better, however, and it won’t be long before relatively cheap, easy to use portable devices arrive — possibly as soon as Christmas 2001. Once that happens, why buy CDs if the songs are available on Napster and can be taken anywhere with the same versatility as the compact disc?

Anti-Voucher Ad Pulled by Michigan Television Stations

In Michigan, where I live, the group opposed to a voucher initiative that will be voted on November 7th is saturating local radio and television stations with ads denouncing the voucher proposal. According to the anti-voucher ads, vouchers will destroy education in Michigan, cause taxes to skyrocket, and any number of other horrible problems. The ads are very slick and, if the polls are any guide, very effective — support for the voucher plan is now stuck at around 30 percent.

One of the ads went too far for several Michigan TV stations who recently pulled the ad. The ad showed a little girl in a wheelchair with an accompanying voiceover that said, “Angelica will not benefit from Proposal 1’s exclusive private school vouchers because private schools are allowed to reject disabled students like Angelica.”

In fact, Michigan’s Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act — enacted in 1976 — makes it illegal for private schools to discriminate against people based solely on their disabilities.

This is pretty typical of the campaign the anti-voucher forces are running. It’s too bad that the Michigan Education Association and others haven’t put as much energy into teaching kids to read and not drop out as they have into defeating the voucher proposal.

Anti-voucher ad with disabled girl pulled. Laura Potts, The Detroit Free Press, October 26, 2000.

Some Universities Announce They Won’t Carry RU-486

In several weeks, the abortion-inducing drug RU-486 drug will hit pharmacy shelves — but not at the pharmacies of health centers at many colleges and universities. Already, Emory University, The University of Georgia, Boston University, and the entire Florida public university system have announced that their health centers will offer RU-486.

There are several reasons for these decisions, perhaps the biggest begin the ridiculous restrictions that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration slapped onto the drug. Health facilities that are very close to hospitals might be able to meet the strict requirements, but most university health systems simply don’t have the sort of facilities to meet the FDA’s requirements.

An option not mentioned, but certainly on the minds of universities must also be the possibilities of lawsuits. RU-486 has a number of occasionally severe side effects and university systems might be afraid of becoming the deep pocket victims of lawsuits.

And, of course, some colleges and universities simply want to avoid getting caught up in the abortion controversy. You can bet that many state legislatures will consider bills in the coming years to withhold funds for state-sponsored universities and colleges that offer RU-486, along with heightened abortion-related protests at institutions regardless of what decision they make (with the pro-lifers being outraged if they offer it, and the pro-abortion contingent outraged if it’s not offered).


Many Campuses Won’t Offer Abortion Pill. Kris Osborn, Fox News, October 24, 2000.