Remember Skype’s High Water Mark, Microsoft Acquires Skype for $8.5 Billion, Probably All Downhill

According to Ars Technica and other news sources, Microsoft Acquires Skype for $8.5 Billion.

A simple question: Why? eBay purchased and then sold Skype for a huge loss after they never did anything substantial with the telephony service. Now, Microsoft is laying down $8.5 billion for Skype to purchase it from the company that acquired it from eBay. Perhaps Microsoft has big plans to transition to a telephony carrier. Perhaps they are simply trying to diversify their portfolio. However, $8.5 billion is nearly half of NASA’s budget for this year! That’s a load of cash for a telephony service that no-where-near gets enough revenue as it now stands to justify this kind of purchase. Microsoft has reportedly never made such a high-priced acquisition before, so I suspect that they have some secret up their sleeve for leveraging Skype and its technology in future products and services.

If Microsoft’s track record is any indication of their future plans for Skype, I suspect that it will be integrated into upcoming Windows releases as yet another layer of crap that doesn’t need to be built into an operating system. Take Windows 7 for example. I reinstalled it yesterday via Oracle’s Virtual Box software, and I immediately trashed it when I couldn’t get some software to run. However, I played around with it for a bit to see how things have changed. It is more streamlined than Vista, but it still contains loads of junk that the OS doesn’t need. Furthermore, it has counter-intuitive navigational and storage spaces for users.

Like others, I can say that Windows 7 is alright despite its problems, but I only say this because it corrects for the substantial problems in Vista. This shouldn’t be the way it is for a monolithic industry leader in modern computing technology. Instead of having Windows releases stand on their own as innovative products, I have read time and time again how Windows 7 stands in good stead due to the fact that it corrects for the horrible problems in Vista (bloat, system memory usage, instability, etc.). Microsoft shouldn’t premiere any OS that looks like and acts like it was built by 5 year old programmers playing in a sandbox. Yet, they do. Repeatedly.

What does this tell me about Skype, which generally does what it is supposed to do–allow you to talk and video chat with people around the world for a reasonable price–Microsoft is going to screw the pooch when they sink their tentacles into Skype. However, a future release might be better, but it probably won’t reacquire the level of usability and stability that it once had before Microsoft’s intervention.

We will see.

Huge Lego Acquisition from North Canton

I replied to a listing on Craigslist in the Akron/Canton area for a garage floor covered in Legos. On the day before my last PhD exam on Philip K. Dick, I drove down to North Canton to take a look Rick’s collection.

Rick told me that he was getting out of the Lego selling business, so he wanted to unload what he had left. It was cool talking with him about his experiences as a seller, and I was happy to find out that he knows another Lego collector in the area named Jack, who I have met on two other occasions.

After talking for awhile, we completed the deal and loaded everything up. There are various bricks, plates, and pieces from Star Wars, Arctic, Harry Potter, Castle, City, Technic, and many other themes. There were some Megabloks that I hope to sell on Craigslist. My plans for all of the Lego bricks are to sort and rebuild some of the sets that I know there are parts for including the original AT-ST and Boba Fett’s Slave I. Other pieces will go into the remote control robot that I am building now. A few others I will keep, but I will try to find new homes for everything else. It may not seem like I am trying to deal with household clutter by the looks of the following pictures, but it is a process that will ultimately lead to some things that I will enjoy working with in a cleaner environment. In fact, as I am writing this, my floor is actually clean enough that Yufang ran the Dyson around this afternoon.

Above: Yufang is helping me sort pieces prior to washing. I use bra containers to hold Legos and I wash them in the washing machine on a light cycle with the drum half full of water and then I dry them on the drying rack supported by screen netting with a floor fan running over them.

Above: Yufang and I sorting in the middle of my office floor. Miao Miao is sleeping in the background behind Yufang’s shoulder.

Thanks for reading all of this week’s Lego posts. Expect more posts in the future, but now I can say I am finally caught up with these posts!