Archives » August 7th, 2002

August 7, 2002

Holy Frejole

I guess I’ve made it in the world – I’m finally listed in Google’s index.

A proud day.

True Porn Clerk Stories

Every now and then I get this crazy itch inside the back of my head. I know I need second income of some sort – my oh-so-decadant lifestyle gobbles up the wages from my sysadmin job faster than Pac-Man gobbles up pixels. And I’m sure that this second income is going to come, in some way, from freelancing and consulting gigs. But there’s always that crazy idea in the back of my head, probably some spark of familiarity from my days in the service sector, that looks at the Help Wanted sign in the window of the local video rental place and starts to seriously consider turning in an application. Think about it – I know a lot about movies, I’ve done my time behind a cash register, I could work nights, which would fit into my schedule, the place is only ten minutes from my house (right around the corner when you live in the semi-rural West) – it seems like the perfect gig. Of course there’s always the other half of my brain that pulls me back to the sunlight, reminding me exactly how much minimum wage is, how many hours I’d have to work to make a dent in my finances, not to mention the fact that it’s mainly drudgework that would see me stuck behind a register for five hours a night, and most customers don’t want the clerk to talk to them, much less have an encyclopedic knowledge of film. Plus, I’ve seen Clerks too many times.

Well, now I have another reason to hesitate. A couple of weeks ago the other blogs were playing meme-tag with True Porn Clerk Stories, an excellently written journal by a gal in Chicago. Here she details her adventures at the seedy urban video store that circumstance has forced her to work at. She fleshes out her characters well, giving her customers names like Mr. Creaky and Mr. Gentle. She peppers her tales of the daily drudgery with unique insights into the how and why of the porn rental industry, almost as though she were an undercover sociologist working on her thesis. But underneath it all, you can tell that working at a video store is not a glamorous job.

Now, I know Carson City isn’t exactly Chicago. And the store I’m looking at doesn’t even carry porn – having legalized prostitution ten minutes away probably dilutes the market a little. But still, I now have another reason to walk right on by whenever I see that Help Wanted sign.

Why AOL doesn’t want Netscape

The word is starting to spread that when AOL 8.0 comes out this fall, there will be no Netscape attached. I had been looking forward to them sticking a shiv in the ribs of all those IE-centric developers out there, but I guess that was too much of a pipe dream. And, deep down in my heart, I think I knew how unrealistic it was, from a business point of view.

Think about it: Netscape 6.0 was a PR disaster. The product was taking to long to finish, so they took an early beta version and tried to pass it off as the real thing. The public didn’t know anything about the Mozilla project or what version NN6 was based on; all they knew was that 6.0 blew, and they weren’t going to dump their trusty NN4 for it. And, even though Mozila progressed and Netscape 6.1 and 6.2 were light years ahead of the first release, the damage had already been done. Netscape 6 was cursed. Jumping version numbers again was probably the smartest thing they could have done, and if there’s enough of a campaign to let people know that Netscape 7.0 fixes all the problems 6.0 had, it just might pick up some market share, especially from the NN4 users. (Speaking of which, when is Netscape 7 going to come out of preview? It’s been ages now!)

Back to AOL. Netscape’s reputation is still tarnished, and it remains to be seen if 7.0 will be better received. So of course AOL isn’t going to bet the farm on it quite yet. IE is the market leader, by a large percentage, and that can create a huge feedback loop, as this article shows. It doesn’t make sense for AOL to move away from IE, even if they own Netscape, even if Mozilla is better at interpreting standards, even if they don’t have the best relationship with Microsoft. They know that if people upgrade to AOL 8.0, with Netscape, and web pages start breaking, those viewers aren’t going to blame the site developers, they’re going to blame AOL. And they can’t afford another PR crisis right now.

So, no Netscape in AOL. Maybe, if Netscape 7 is a hit, AOL 9.0 might have a different face. But unless something big happens to the market and the industry, I wouldn’t bet on that either.

Update, 10/10/2002:
AOL 8.0 is out, and there is no Netscape. More here.