Daily Archives: Sunday, 06-Jan-2002

Shelley, over at Burningbird has been relating car stories in the wake of her finally getting her drivers license at a, er, somewhat latter time in life. Her latest story relates to her brother and his fascination with parking brake releases. I had a very similar brother who was a couple of years younger than me. Her story brought back memories for me.

My mother went into the post office in Red Bank one day leaving my brother and me in the car. I was probably about seven at the time and my brother was five. This was the early ’60s and no one was thinking baby snatching or anything like that back in those days. My brother immediately jumped up into the driver’s seat when my mom went into the post office and began pretending to be driving the car. He managed to release the parking brake and knock the car out of gear.

The parking lot was a slight but significant incline and the car was pointed uphill away from the busy little street the post office was located on. The car began a fairly fast acceleration down the incline and across the street where other cars were parked. I remember jumping up and looking out the window as soon as I felt the car in motion and seeing a lady running out into the street to stop traffic so our car could at least make it across the street without someone driving down the street running into us.

Our guardian angel must have been with us because the car backed smoothly between two cars parked across the street and stopped harmlessly against the curb. I looked around to see my mother coming out of the post office with as close to a panicked look as I ever saw on her face. My mother rarely got excited over things. She came awfully close to it that day.

CNET.com has an article about Mira, Microsoft’s new consumer electronics tablet-shaped device that will serve as a bridge between the TV, the PC and the company’s .Net services. Basically it sounds like a tv remote that will pull in TVGuide style information from your PC over a wireless connection and can be used to save game state information of your XBox back to a central server. It sounds kind of cool but what struck me most about the article was how quickly it turned into a commercial for Microsoft’s .NET services, specifically .NET My Services or what was originally termed Hailstorm.

Now, I still have mixed feelings about Microsoft’s .NET innitiative. I think it is a spark that might reignite interest in the Web in ways that could put a lot of my out of work friends back to work. I honestly don’t believe any company other than Microsoft has that ability to strike that particular spark. Outside of the tech community no one hears anything unless it is said by Microsoft. That’s just reality.

Another upside of the .NET initiative is that it will put a lot of technology in the hands of people that just don’t have the technical accumen to handle this stuff on their own. Sure, every bit of what .NET My Services is offering the consumer I can build at home, but I realize that I’m in the minority at every family get-together and every social gathering I attend with social rather than business acquaintances.

What I’m afraid of, though, is that everyone is going to have to pay a pretty hefty price to Microsoft for that spark and for that availability of technology. I’m also afraid that this is going to cause people to be far too reliable on servers that are completely out of their control for storage of personal and critical business data.

Another concern that I have is the cost of these web services. We are talking about subscriptions to data, not just any data but subscriptions to your own data. Subscriptions are recurring costs. Forget about upgrades they are done automatically for you and rolled into the cost of the subscription. Easy monthly payments mean you’ll never have to worry about paying for an upgrade again. Easy monthly payments also mean that you will never pay off your investment in this technology.

On the upside, .NET means that a lot of folks that could never had access to the technology will now have access to it and my friends go back to work. On the downside, .NET is going to be a way for Microsoft to gain a grip on a very delicate portion of our anatomies and they will squeeze.