Mitch Wagner

Profile of Mitch Wagner

California Bureau Chief, Light Reading
News & Commentary Posts: 1161

Mitch Wagner is California bureau chief for Light Reading.

Articles by Mitch Wagner
posted in December 2006

Don't Worry, It's Not Socialism

We're starting to see the emergence of new economies in the Internet in which the exchange of money isn't the straightforward path from customer to merchant that we're all used to. This has led to some alarmed hand-wringing about socialism, when in fact what we're seeing is the good ol' free market at work in strange and new ways.

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Fear Is Driving Users From Desktop To Web

The author of my favorite desktop application that I'm not using anymore kicks off a discussion of why applications are moving to the Web. Nick Bradbury of NewsGator, author of the FeedDemon RSS aggregator, says it's because people are afraid of installing software on their desktop.

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Microsoft Wins Hands-Down For Most Disappointing Product Of 2006

Many tech newspapers and magazines have year-end wrap-ups of the best products of the year, and at least one does a wrap-up of the biggest vaporware of the year, but I don't know anybody who's doing a wrap-up of the most disappointing products of the year -- products that were hyped like crazy, and which (unlike vaporware) actually materialized, but proved to be duds once the vendor showed us what was actually behind

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Has Blockbuster Finally Found The Hammer To Crush Netflix?

TechCrunch thinks it has, as Michael Arrington, a self-confessed former "die-hard Netflix fan," notes in a post explaining why he's canceling his Netflix membership. He says the recent announcement by Blockbuster that you can now return mail-order rentals at the store tips the balance. Also helping make Blockbuster more attractive: Allowing customers to use the free rentals for movies or games, generous free-

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Journalist's Interview Interrupted By Attack Of Flying Genitalia

CNET interviewed Ailin Graef, aka "Anshe Chung," about her experiences amassing more than $1 million in virtual property inside the game Second Life. As is Graef's practice, she did the interview inside the game, specifically in the news bureau CNET has opened inside Second Life. What happened next is something that I'm sure never happened to Lois Lane. I'll let CNET tell it thems

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SmartClose For Windows Saves Time Shutting Down, Re-Starting Programs

The free Windows software SmartClose solves one of the most annoying problems with Windows XP: If you're used to working with a lot of applications running in the background, it's a long, tedious process to shut them all down, and another long, tedious process to start them all up again. SmartClose automatically shuts down running programs and services with a few mouse clicks. It also saves the list of running programs to a "snaps

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Tools For Getting The Most From Two PCs

I recently joined the ranks of, well, probably most of the computer-using adult world: I now have two computers that I use on a regular basis, one that I use primarily for work, one primarily for leisure activities. That leaves me with the need to find easy ways of getting information from one to the other, including browser settings, e-mail, and the occasional document. Here's what I've found works best.

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Ready Or Not, Time To Upgrade Windows

One of the more baffling objections to open source is the fear that the user won't be able to find support. Users fear they'll find themselves abandoned, with no vendor to turn to when they run into problems. Users see proprietary software as a safer alternative. But, in fact, proprietary software vendors abandon their users all the time. It's a standard business practice -- if you're a proprietary software vendor, and you want to force your users to buy into your product upgrade, jus

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Craigslist Flummoxes Financial Analysts

The Internet is on fire with controversy There's been some interesting discussion around Craigslist's appearance at a financial analyst conference, wherein Craigslist flummoxed the assembled pundits by saying that they don't have any plans to charge for listings (beyond the limited charges they already make).

They don't plan to accept advertising support a la Google AdSense.

They don't have any plans to maximize revenues.

They just plan to keep

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Have Blogs Peaked?

Micro Persuasion has some interesting stats to indicate that blogging has peaked. The numbers of new blogs being created, rate that people are writing new posts, and searches on the word "blog" are flattening. However, he hastens to add, these numbers are preliminary, and don't necessarily reflect diminishment in the influence of blogs. (Thanks, Post a Comment

Death Of Digg Predicted

Jason Calacanis says that Digg's top contributors are taking payola:: "A PR/marketing firm confirmed with me that they had a number of the top 50 users on digg now on the payroll--and this wasn't a totally insignificant firm."

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Allchin: When I Said I'd Rather Use A Mac, What I Really MEANT To Say Was....

Jim Allchin's got some 'splainin' to do: The co-president of Microsoft's platforms and services division is attempting to explain away a quote in a 2004 e-mail that recently came to light, wherein Allchin says if he didn't work for Microsoft, he'd use a Mac.

Allchin says he made the comment "for effect" and says, "Taken out of context, this comment could be confusing."

Hmmm... let's take a look and Post a Comment

Torture Video Puts Pressure On Egyptian Police

Privacy goes two ways. While the Internet and other information technology enable unprecedented levels of surveillance of private citizens, tech also permits the people to shine a light on government. For example, in Egypt, an Internet video, is causing citizens to question the prevalence of torture by police.

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They're Giving Away The Product, But Making It Up In Volume

If you're selling information on the Internet, it doesn't matter how much people get for free -- the only thing that matters is how much you sell. The recording, movie, and commercial software industries don't understand that, but Jimmy Wales does. Wales co-founded both the not-for-profit Wikipedia and for-profit Wikia, which announced a bold new strategy to Post a Comment

De-Touristify Your Vacation Photos

Set up a tripod to take a picture of whatever landmark or scenery you want a picture of. Take a whole bunch of shots. Because you're using a tripod, the landmark will look the same in each shot, but the people will move around (as people do). Then, when you get home, use Photoshop or your photo editor of choice to create a composite photo. shows you how.

Or, you can do

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Media Piracy Begins At Home

Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman's own kids are music pirates, he admitted in an interview. "Naturally, his kids were forced to cough up thousands of dollars to the RIAA to keep from getting sued. Right?" Ars Technica asks rhetorically. Of course not -- Bronfman says he disciplined the kids (he says he prefers to keep the details in the family) and gave them a talking-to about stealing music.

Of course, music piracy i

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Japanese Media Organization Thinks Life In The 21st Century Stinks

JASRAC, a Japanese media organization, decided the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act is "too much trouble" and wants YouTube to cooperate in preemptively filtering pirated videos from being uploaded: "While such a system is being implemented, JASRAC wants YouTube to take three provisional measures: 1) post a Japanese-language notice on the "top page of the YouTube website" warning about copyright infringement, 2) keep tr

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Review: Hey! You Got Bookmarks In My Firefox!

Yahoo recently updated its Firefox extension to more tightly integrate some of the great features of the bookmarking service into Firefox. replaces the venerable folder system of organization with a system of "tags." Tags are the equivalent of being able to put a single bookmark in multiple folders without having to make copies, and they're much better than folders for keeping your bookmarks organized and

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Google Makes A Small, But Handy, Upgrade To Google Reader

Google added a small, but extremely useful feature to its Google Reader RSS reader. While reading a feed, you can go over to a drop-down menu on the same page and rename it, unsubscribe to it, or select which folders it should appear in. Previously, you could just unsubscribe from the main page; if you wanted to rename it or select folders, you had to go to another page, which was inconvenient.

I meant to blog about this earlier in the week, but Post a Comment

Transferring Old Home Movies To Digital Media

If you grew up in the 70s or earlier, you've probably got a box of home movies sitting around somewhere, probably in 8 mm or Super 8 format. It's just sitting there, gathering dust and fading into worthlessness. That's some precious family memories and history there, slowly being destroyed by time and changing data formats.

Jim Carroll solved that problem, building his own tools for automatically converting movies to digital media. Other solutions already exist for this problem, but th

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Is Simply Linking To Copyright Material Illegal?

Boing Boing reports that Fox is trying to extend copyright law by sending takedown notices to sites that just link to supposedly infringing clips on YouTube. The target sites aren't hosting the clips themselves; just linking to them. The law is "somewhat murky" on whether linking to infringing materials is itself infringing, says Electronic Frontier Foundation senior intellectual property attorney Fred von Lohmann. Th

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