I, Cringely’s “Stop the Presses!” Rebuttal

In a recent I, Cringely article Robert Cringely argues the traditional publishing industry is dying at the hands of Internet pay-per-click advertising.

More pay-per-click means more online content but ultimately less money for producing that content. Print publications fade from sight or continue primarily as art forms, rather than businesses. It will take another decade to happen, but happen it will.

Cringely is right- traditional print will decline dramatically. Maybe sooner, maybe later. But pay-per-click does not “ultimately mean less money for producing the content.” Certainly less money will be spent on untargeted, unmeasurable advertising and more will be spent on effective targeted advertising. The two trends will at least offset each other if not actually increase total ad spending and the total money spent producing content.

Comparing ad density of traditional magazines to the ad density of web pages Cringely concludes, “there is no way a print publisher can switch to all on-line without shrinking in just about every respect.”

The densest web page will have one banner ad at the top, eight to 10 Google ads down the right side, and maybe another Google ad or two at the bottom. That sounds like a lot, but on a strict real estate basis, it is very hard to exceed an ad-to-edit ratio of 50 percent, and most web pages have three times as much editorial content as ad space — the exact reciprocal of the experience with paper publications.

If the total advertising space shrinks and the ad’s are more desirable (effects are more measurable therefore pay-per-click ads are easier to optimize and improve) advertisers will pay more for the ads. Scarcity and increased value combine to push prices up.

Another way to look at the situation is to consider advertisers are buying customer’s attention. Today they buy it though more traditional media. In a decade they will probably buy more Internet media to capture the customer’s attention. If they can buy more customer attention for less money the advertisers will not choose to spend less money for the same amount of attention. They will spend the same money or more for more attention from their customers.

Advertising isn’t dying and advertising agencies will not let their clients shrink their budgets. Less may be spent in magazines or newspapers but a smaller overall budget is unthinkable.

A letter to the editor




Macworld0512_sebrenner

Originally uploaded by sebrenner.

I have always wanted to have a letter to the editor published. Now I am fulfilled.

Work around for accessibility issue with FireFox 1.5 and OS X- tab focus

Upgrading to FireFox 1.5 was a great pleasure but for one problem. FF 1.5 dropped the user preference (accessibility.tabfocus) that enabled tab key access to form elements. Without this preference OS X users can not use the the tab key to shift the focus to check boxes, radio button, pull down menus or buttons. This really slowed me down. When I am filling out a form I like to keep my hands on the keyboard. Reaching for the mouse slows me down and frustrates me. But with the help of a few FF devotes I have learned a work around.


Create a text file named user.js in

~/Library/Application Support/FireFox/Profiles/xxxxxxxx.default


Add the following line to the text user.js:

user_pref(“accessibility.tabfocus”, 7);

There are several values available for the preference:

  • 1- Give focus to text fields only. (The default in OS X.)
  • 2- Give focus to all form elements except text fields.
  • 4- Give focus to links (and linked images) only.

Values can be combine to enable multiple behaviors

  • 7 = 1 + 2 + 4 Allows the tab key to shift focus to text fields, all form elements and links
  • 3 = 1 + 2 Allows the tab key to shift focus to any form element. This is my preference.


More information can be found in the mozillazine.org wiki.

Transparent Dining Room Desktop




Transparent Dining Room Desktop

Originally uploaded by sebrenner.

This was a fun little Sunday evening project. Five minutes to take the shots. twenty mintues of tedious pixel work.

The most creative performance I have seen all year

This video is incredible. I am amazed by creativity that went into the conception and the disciplined execution.

Matrix Ping Pong – Google Video

Apple brings video to iPods and iMacs, but…

I haven’t seen one in person yet, but I sure like what I have read about the new iMacs and the iPods. Even though I don’t think handheld video will be much more popular than those handheld DVD players I do think buying videos through iTunes will be immensly popular. Especially whne Apple releases a device for displaying the video on your HDTV.

I am disappointed in the remote control. Why is it IR? IR is very old technology that requires a line-of-sight to work properly. With Griffin offerin the RF Air Click and Bluetooth built into the iMac I think Apple could have don a little better by using a more modern technology. A technology that doesn’t have such a history of frustrating people.

I skied for 15 years but…

Now, after 10 years of snowboarding I only snowboard. For the first couple of years after I switched I kept planning to snowboard and ski, but the snowboarding is so much more rewarding and enjoyable. I can’t remember the last time I skied.

FDA and Drug Approval Times

The Economist is one of my favorite magazines and I am quite happy I recently got subscriptions from both my mom and Jamuna.

This recent article just gave me an idea for reforming both the patent office and the FDA- tie approval/processing times to families of drugs or patents the government believes would benefit the nation.

In the case of the the FDA lifestyle drugs like Viagra, Allegra would take a back seat to drugs for the treatment of more pressing ills (Cancer, AIDS, ALS, etc.). I think this could reduce the appeal of blockbuster drugs and the cost of pursuing less profitable segments. The latter could be achieved by reducing drug approval time and thus lengthening the time the drug is on the market protected by patent.

For the patent office the I think the implementation is less clear. I would like to see some way to reduce the burden of frivolous and defensive patents. The feelings, at least as far as I can tell are, too many frivolous patents are being awarded. As for defensive patents I think they do nothing to foster innovation in and go a long way to stifle it- very much the opposite of the nations goals for the patent office. Perhaps patent applications proven to be under current development could be expedited over applications for patents not currently under development. Determining what counts as “currently under development” could be very problematic but multi year patent application approvals are also problematic.

Regulating the drugs industry | The merry go-round | Economist.com

BitTorrent Rocks

Tonight I used BitTorrent to download a Knoppix LiveCD. This protocol saved me more than seven hours of download time. BitTorrent took about 40 minutes. My ftp client predicted 8+ hours to download. I hope more organizations embrace this technology. I would love to see it built into a few browsers.

Are You Aware of Your Surroundings?

Kevin Kelly of Wired fame, posts 34 thought provoking questions that have inspired me to learn more about the geology, fauna, flora and hydrology of my new home in Ohio.



The Big Here Quiz: “You live in the big here. Wherever you live, your tiny spot is deeply intertwined within a larger place, imbedded fractal-like into a whole system called a watershed, which is itself integrated with other watersheds into a tightly interdependent biome. (See the world eco-region map ). At the ultimate level, your home is a cell in an organism called a planet. All these levels interconnect. What do you know about the dynamics of this larger system around you? Most of us are ignorant of this matrix. But it is the biggest interactive game there is. Hacking it is both fun and vital.

The following exercise in watershed awareness was hatched 30 years ago by Peter Warshall, naturalist extraordinaire. Variations of this list have appeared over the years with additions by Jim Dodge, Peter Berg, and Stephanie Mills among others. I have recently added new questions from Warshall and myself, and I have edited or altered most of the rest. It’s still a work in progress. If you have a universal question you think fits, submit it to me.


How many of Kelly’s questions can you answer? Check out his site for some recommendations on how to learn more about your home.