RSS for Content Distribution

Steve Outing suggests RSS as an alternative to email publishing, given the problems that email has been having with spams and viruses:

RSS allows potential readers of a Web site to view part of its content — typically headlines and short blurbs — without having to visit the content directly (unless they want to click through to it). Viewing is done with a piece of software separate from the Web browser, the RSS aggregator, which the consumer uses to subscribe to “feeds” produced by favorite Internet publishers. The feeds are constantly updated as the publishers add new content.

The big advantage of RSS to a Web publisher is that it can significantly increase a site’s visibility and reach. In the context of a news site, EEVL’s “RSS Primer for Publishers & Content Providers” explains that “because there are so many sources of news on the Internet, most of your viewers won’t come to your site every day. By providing an RSS feed, you are in front of them constantly, improving the chances that they’ll click through to an article that catches their eye.”

And by using RSS, a publisher enables others on the Internet to syndicate its headlines, so they show up on other Web sites as those publishers incorporate third-party headlines into their own sites — viewer traffic that gets funneled back to the Web site of the original publisher.

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Microsoft to Linux Switch

Kingsley pointed me to this News.com story about Ernie Ball, the world’s leading maker of premium guitar strings, who made the switch from Microsoft to Linux after being pursued (and humiliated) by the anti-piracy alliance. They were finded USD 100,000 for non-compliance. Excerpts from an interview with their CEO, Sterling Ball:

I became an open-source guy because we’re a privately owned company, a family business that’s been around for 30 years, making products and being a good member of society. We’ve never been sued, never had any problems paying our bills. And one day I got a call that there were armed marshals at my door talking about software license compliance…I thought I was OK; I buy computers with licensed software. But my lawyer told me it could be pretty bad.

The BSA had a program back then called “Nail Your Boss,” where they encouraged disgruntled employees to report on their company…and that’s what happened to us. Anyways, they basically shut us down…We were out of compliance I figure by about 8 percent (out of 72 desktops).

I know I saved $80,000 right away by going to open source, and each time something like (Windows) XP comes along, I save even more money because I don’t have to buy new equipment to run the software. One of the great things is that we’re able to run a poor man’s thin client by using old computers we weren’t using before because it couldn’t handle Windows 2000. They work fine with the software we have now.

We’re using it for e-mail client/server, spreadsheets and word processing. It’s like working in Windows. One of the analysts said it costs $1,250 per person to change over to open source. It wasn’t anywhere near that for us. I’m reluctant to give actual numbers. I can give any number I want to support my position, and so can the other guy. But I’ll tell you, I’m not paying any per-seat license. I’m not buying any new computers. When we need something, we have white box systems we put together ourselves. It doesn’t need to be much of a system for most of what we do.

I’m not making calls to Red Hat; I don’t need to. I think that’s propaganda…What about the cost of dealing with a virus? We don’t have ’em. How about when we do have a problem, you don’t have to send some guy to a corner of the building to find out what’s going on–he never leaves his desk, because everything’s server-based. There’s no doubt that what I’m doing is cheaper to operate. The analyst guys can say whatever they want.

The other thing is that if you look at productivity. If you put a bunch of stuff on people’s desktops they don’t need to do their job, chances are they’re going to use it. I don’t have that problem. If all you need is word processing, that’s all you’re going to have on your desktop, a word processor. It’s not going to have Paint or PowerPoint. I tell you what, our hits to eBay went down greatly when not everybody had a Web browser. For somebody whose job is filling out forms all day, invoicing and exporting, why do they need a Web browser? The idea that if you have 2,000 terminals they all have to have a Web browser, that’s crazy. It just creates distractions.

Wish I could get such stories from India!

Negotiating

Inc writes on an activity we do all the time, providing insights into various books on the topic along the way:

Like most every other source of negotiation advice, Getting to Yes begins by saying that however much you think negotiation is part of your life, you’re underestimating. “Everyone negotiates something every day,” according to the introduction. “All of us negotiate many times a day,” G. Richard Shell ups the ante in the opening to Bargaining for Advantage.

Bargaining for Advantage , the book by Wharton professor G. Richard Shell, often backs its arguments with tidbits drawn from psychological research. For example, the “consistency principle” refers to people’s need to appear reasonable. You can take advantage of this by “skillful use of standards” to make other people feel they need to use your standards to feel reasonable. And the more authoritative your standards seem, the better. You Can Negotiate Anything , probably the most entertaining of the books, skips any allusion to scholarship about the human tendency to defer to authority, instead citing an old Candid Camera episode in which a surprising number of highway drivers confronted with the sign “Delaware Closed” actually turned around. And, of course, you want to give special attention to sussing out what your opponent really wants.