Archive for May 8th, 2006

I was right! (Manic laughter)

Monday, May 8th, 2006

Although I don’t like to revel in other people’s misfortunes I can’t help but smile wryly at the news that Silicon Graphics are filing for bankruptcy. Back in the late 90s I had several, erm, ‘conversations’ with finance directors and others at the company I worked for who insisted our request to purchase new Macs was pointless, as they would soon be bankrupt or (the old myth) had been bought out by Microsoft. (To give one ludicrous example I was told to stop developing our new website on my Mac because ‘it won’t be compatible with PCs’. In jest, when my Mac crashed inconveniently during this conversation I blamed my mousemat, saying it was for PCs, and it was only half an hour later that I realised they’d believed me…)

In my first teaching job the then principal had ordered that no more Macs be purchased (though he was talked out of that by several leading graphic designers, threats of strikes, and just about every student) and instead invested heavily, and publicly (he got the Mayor in to cut the ribon) in row upon row of SGI machines with the intention of taking Hollywood by storm based on a (rather impressive) demo reel of a former student.

Seven years on and the scene has changed. For one thing, the real geeks love Linux, not Windows, the ubergeeks love Mac OSX, Apple is the darling of the stock exchange while Microsoft are being criticised at every corner for the late delivery of Vista (something that seems to lose features at every beta) and the piss-poor performance of the tablet computer and the new UMPC (which managed to have one of the most successful viral campaigns that unfortunately promised far, far too much).

So the smile on my lips is not because I’m glad a company has gone bankrupt but because, once more, I am able to recall a heated argument that I won. True, it took seven years and the people I beat are hundreds of miles and several career moves away, but I’d like to think they’re lying awake tonight thinking ‘damn, he was right after all’.

I know revenge is a dish best served cold but this is downright freezing. Nice on a summer’s day, though…

Silicon Graphics files for Chapter 11: “

We can’t help but feel a twinge of melancholy as we ponder Silicon Graphics’ announcement today that the company is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. However, the SGI of today is a mere shadow of it former self, with a mixed bag of products that range from overpriced, Linux-based, Intel-powered workstations to overpriced, Linux-based, Intel-powered supercomputers. But it wasn’t all that long ago that the SGI Indy was considered the hottest thing on the market, and seemed to herald the future of multimedia computing. Of course, that future was pre-empted first by cheaper Unix and Linux options, and later by Mac OSX and even Windows, which was hardly a factor in the graphics industry back in the early 90s when the Indy debuted. So, best of luck emerging from bankruptcy, SGI. We’d like to see you stick around for a bit just for old time’s sake. But if we want one of your boxes, we’ll skip the new ones, and hunt down an Indy on eBay.

(Via Engadget.)

Should a smile cost nothing?

Monday, May 8th, 2006

The best bit about this story is the detail about the creator of the World Smile Foundation (“making the world better one smile at a time”) taking someone to court because they used a similar logo. Oh the irony…

It’s enough to wipe the smile off anyone’s face. The world’s biggest retailer is locked in a bitter court battle with a French trademark entrepreneur over the rights to the smiley logo, writes David Fickling.

The smiley, which readers may associate with anything from instant messaging emoticons to terrorism to, inevitably, ecstasy pills, has been the subject of bad-tempered courtroom battles for years.

The latest is a dispute between Wal-Mart, which uses the logo in its superstores, and Franklin Loufrani, a former journalist who claims to have invented the invented the symbol in the wake of the 1968 Paris evenements as a way of designating cheery news stories to readers. (An ironic footnote: Wal-Mart sponsors a similar happy-news segment on America’s ABC television, although it does not use the smiley logo for those stories.)

Added to the mix is American advertiser and graphic designer Harvey Ball, who claims to have designed a smiley logo before Loufrani and set up the slightly pollyannaish World Smile Foundation to “improve this world, one smile at a time” before his death in 2001. In that positive spirit, in the late 1990s he threatened to take Loufrani to court for his copyright activities.

Coming at the same time as today’s judgment of a dispute between the Beatles’ Apple record label and Apple computers over the use of the Apple trademark on iPod music players, the smiley news seems a further step towards the copyrighting of everyday life.

Without wanting to make any extravagant claims for the peacemaking potential of the icon, you have to wonder whether all this litigation is what smileys were really meant to be about. Can’t we just be nice to each other?”

(Via The Guardian.)