Rebranding Mandrake Linux

I’m not sure which is company is dumber, Mandrive Linux or King Features Syndicate. From wikipedia’s Mandrake Linux entry:

In February 2004 MandrakeSoft lost a court case against Hearst Corporation, owners of King Features Syndicate. Hearst contends that MandrakeSoft is infringing upon King Features’ trademarked character Mandrake the Magician. The word Mandrake is not unique to the King Features character, and MandrakeSoft is appealing the decision. As a precaution, MandrakeSoft has renamed its products by removing the space between the brand name and the product name and changing the first letter of the product name to lower case, thus creating one word. Starting from version 10.0, Mandrake Linux became known as Mandrakelinux, and its logo changed accordingly. Similarly, MandrakeMove became Mandrakemove.

King Features upsets thousands of smart geeks by this. But what is their downside? Nothing. Nobody will organise a boycott or campaign against them. And even if the smart geeks to get organised they don’t represent King Features Syndicate stakeholders. In what way could they influence those stakeholders to make KFS take notice?

MandrakeSoft were dumb for getting to release 10.0 or so without securing their intellectual property. The cost of defending the action in financial and management resources is inexcusable.

I haven’t read the court decision, but it also amazes me that King Features can lock up the word Mandrake (which is a plant) in areas beyond their trademark class. Of course they may have trademark protection in the software class.

The point is now moot as

in April 2005 Mandrakesoft annouced that after the corporate merger of Mandrakesoft and Conectiva, and the legal dispute with Hearst Corporation, the new company name would be Mandriva, and that Mandriva Linux would be the new name covering products.

Chalk one up for the deep pockets of an old media company.

Nasty Javascript loop

Today I also came across a nasty endless Javascript loop. This sucker can trap IE, Firefox and Opera in an endless loop requiring you to kill the application via task manager or kill the process if using one of the *nix.

Javascript is really useful on the sites I regularly visit. But I’d like to have it always on for those sites, and mostly off for just web surfing.

Go get the NoScript – Firefox Extension immediately.

From the description

NoScript allows JavaScript execution only for trusted domains of your choice (e.g. your home-banking web site). This whitelist based pre-emptive script blocking approach prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known and even unknown!) with no loss of functionality… Experts will agree: Firefox is really safer with NoScript 😉

If you doubt the need for this I point you to the following site. I won’t link to it as it will kill 90% of my visitors’ browsers. Save your work first and copy the address and paste it into your address bar. It will kick off an endless loop javascript. Let me know if your browser is safe. Of course that applies only if you have javascript on.

unfix.org/~jeroen/archive/javascript_loop.html

Abandon client services

After writing about Products or Services I can across Jeffrey Zeldman‘s Should you blog have a business

When Coudal Partners, frustrated by the limited options available for custom CD and DVD packaging, solved their problem by inventing Jewelboxing, it occured to them that people who read their blog might like the product as well. They guessed right. Coudal Partners now develops multiple products and is well on its way toward abandoning client services altogether.

Likewise, panelist Jason Fried, whose user experience consultancy developed a blog which begat a readership which began buying the user experience consultancy’s first product, which freed Fried and his friends to pretty much quit the client services racket in favor of product development.

I like that reference to client services racket. The tension is between generating sufficient revenue from an existing client services business while developing, trialling and maturing a viable product.

In my experience many firms attempt that transition. Most fail because a passion for service occupies so much of best people’s energy. Product innovators within the firm need to have the rest of the system functioning.

Still it is a great and worthy goal.

Update 21 October 2008 fixed a typo in a URL that generated a 404 error

Meet Joe Blogs

I subscribe to the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Technology weekly. Sometimes I don’t know why I bother with Main Stream Media. Their fact checking is so dubious – see below.

Mentioned this week but datelined 31 May and archived 30 May is Meet Joe Blogs with the teaser

The “blogosphere” is exploding, with millions of blogs screaming for attention. Next asked some of Australia’s most influential bloggers what it takes to stand out from the loudmouthed crowd.

Fine lets meet who the Fairfax press thinks are Australia’s most influential bloggers. They interview Simon Wright founder of Whirlpool.net.au the Australian broadband choice community. Now whirlpool is a mighty fine community, but it is anything but a blog. Online communities are a valuable part of the internet, go check out Somersoft Property Investors Forum where I was once a moderator.

Blogs are “web logs”, generally with one voice (or so) conducting a conversation with a specific readership. How did the SMH confuse the voice of a lone blogger with a few hundred/thousand posts with the anarchy of Whirlpool and its 84,929 members; 321,861 threads and 5,132,127 posts? Who did the fact checking on this uncredited puff piece?

Ah but there was a link to I am blogger, hear me roar by Hugh J. Martin with Rob O’Neill. At least this one had writers willing to take ownership.

Here at least is a case for identifying four Australian bloggers as “influential”. Martin and O’Neill set the scene at the opening and explain some of technorati’s usefulness as a blog seach engine. The sixth paragraph is useful

It is important to distinguish between traffic – visits to a blog’s pages – and hyperlinks. By tracking links and not page views, Technorati is tracking the level of motivation required to create the hyperlink. If lots of bloggers cite, or link to, a blog or an individual post, they are casting a vote in favour of its relevance or importance. It’s a crude measure but it does allow a basic ranking of blogs according to the number of links they attract. It also allows readers to get a feel for the authority or wider popularity of a blog.

But three paragraphs later

Tim Dunlop is an Australian academic and writer living in Washington, DC. His academic work dealt with the role of intellectuals and citizens in public debate and that led to his interest in blogging. He first published his blog, The Road to Surfdom, in May 2002 and quickly became Australia’s most widely read left-leaning blog.

Huh? Australia’s most widely read left-leaning blog? They just explained how link popularity is a valid proxy for influence, but it doesn’t automatically equate to most widely read. So now technorati links explain your public popularity? What about RSS readers and aggregators? I know many readers never come to my site but read via RSS. Very Bad Logic SMH.