MSN Virtual Earth

Just last week I finally got around to writing about Google Earth, and then what should happen but my own company ships MSN Virtual Earth!

Like the Google product, its a fabulous piece of software.

The MSN product, ironically, is a web product. While the Google product is a client that you have to download to your PC. (shouldn’t that be the other way around?) Personally, I prefer the web-based product. It makes it a whole lot more useful, as it just runs everywhere. The Google product was unable to run on my PC at home because my graphics card was too old.

The MSN product is also just a lot more thought out in terms of usability and also for being useful for really finding things. To use it, first, put in the addresses that are relevant to you (home/work/whatever). Then, just type what you are looking for, like “pizza”. Bing- you can see all the pizza joints near your addresses. And its really smart too – it remembers all your locations so that when you come back later, you don’t have to retype your address!

The MSN product does lack the whizzy “fly” feature, which is no doubt why the Google product requires such a heavy duty graphics card. So, I miss flying. But when it comes down to it, flying is neat, but again doesn’t help you do anything really that useful. The MSN map is essentially a “flat” earth, while Google is rounded. I’d expect MSN to improve on this in the future to give you more and better options.

Anyway, both of these products are really really cool. These are going to change the way we do address lookups. Both still lack decent driving directions, as far as I can tell, so Yahoo! is still in business for a while.

Schwarzenegger is dong great!

Our Governor here in California has come across some troubles recently and his popularity has plumetted. Maybe thats why I like him more now :-)

In particular, the unions hate him, and that has really hurt his standing. Previously, he hadn’t demonstrated any particular stance against a group. I’m sure he’s not against unions (nor am I), but he knows their far from perfect too.

But what is wrong with going after Unions? Unions are, frankly, awful for their employees in most cases. Let’s take teachers, for example. When was the last time a teacher in California got a 15% annual bonus for a great achievement. Um – NEVER! Now, when was the last time I got one? I’ve received them many times in my relatively short career. Why? Because I don’t belong to a union which prevents my employers from giving me a bonus. Teachers can’t be rewarded for going the extra mile. They are required to pay all teachers – good or bad – the same amount based on years of experience and college education. Geez – I’ve got guys working next to me that don’t even have college degrees. But they are looking at big bonuses and extra perks when they perform well overall. Once again, free-enterprise provides better for the employer and for the employee over the unions.

To all you “Union Yes” folk, well, you should start thinking for yourself for a change. What do your union dues really buy? (Other than those fancy cars for the Union leadership) If you are working hard, you’d do better without them, as your employer would know that he’s got to keep you happy. But with the union, he doesn’t have to give you anything special. In fact, he can’t anymore. The guys that are leaches on the system are bringing you down.

Let’s take a look at the public ballot which Schwarzenegger has spearheaded. First, remember that when he was running for office, he promised Californians that if the legislature wouldn’t reform this stuff, he’d take it to the people. Some voters now think it costs too much. But remember, when we voted him into office, it was because we wanted him to do this. So don’t blame him now, we specifically asked for this.

Here are the issues:

Union Dues
He wants to make sure that employees consent before Union Dues can be used for political contributions. This seems pretty fair. Why wouldn’t anyone want to control how their dues are used? This should allow the union members to better pick priorities for their Unions.

Public School Teacher Reform
Creates mechanisms where poor teachers can be weeded out with better performing ones. Do you know of any corporation that doesn’t have this? Why wouldn’t we want this?

Abortions for Minors
This one would require parental consent before giving a minor an abortion. I’m on the fence about this, because in general I think we should provide abortions to all. But, if it were my daughter, I’d want to know. I can go either way.

Reapportionment
Looking at the encumbents in our state, I’m betting we could use a good shuffle. And why not? Is there really much downside? Do you think your rep will be less in touch with you just because we re-draw a few lines? I don’t believe this is being done to bias the lines. I believe our last redistricting was done in 1991. Times have changed.

When he was running for office, I never thought I’d say this. But now I say Schwarzenegger rocks. What politician has the gall to tackle Unions and Reapportionment at the same time? The fact is that this guy isn’t just a politician. He’s actually trying to make California better.

Google Earth

If you haven’t tried Google Earth, you should do it right now. I know I’m late to blog about this – as the product has been available for quite a while. But I simply can’t remember the last time I saw a new application that was so cool. Seriously, if you haven’t tried it – go try it right now!

You can fly around the globe – downloading real satelite images of everywhere you go. Lookup your childhood home, your college, or whatever you want to see. It is really impressive.

MSN has its own MSN Virtual Earth coming soon (as announced widely). But its not available yet. So, until then, Google Earth is pretty darned neat.

Union Boss

I want to be a union boss. Talk about an easy job:

1. Collect union dues all year round.
2. Instigate unrest and dissatisfaction within the ranks by complaining and fueling every small thing
3. Use a fraction of the union dues to take your members out to nice dinners and complain about management.
4. Once a year, bargain with management and ask for the unreasonable
5. Even though you don’t have any financial knowledge or training, tell the press that management is lying about how much money they have.
6. Every 2-3 years send them out on strike while you continue to collect union dues.
7. Go to the beach and don’t tell your members how much you are making!

What a life!