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Why Bowman sold out to Topps, or how Topps bought Bowman

Virtually every schoolboy who is interested in baseball cards knows the story of how Topps bought Bowman. After World War II, Bowman was the leading brand of baseball card, or, at least from 1948 until 1951. Then, in 1952, Topps released its landmark 1952 set. Bowman and Topps battled for baseball fans’ nickels and pennies until 1955. Then, in early 1956, Topps bought Bowman, and that was the end of Bowman until the late 1980s, when Topps dusted off the brand name and started issuing Bowman cards again. And Topps faced precious little competition in the baseball card field until 1981, when Fleer and Donruss won the right to produce cards.

That’s the story as I knew it. But there’s a lot more to the story, starting with the details of the purchase. In January 1956, Topps bought its once mighty rival for a mere $200,000. Normally a company sells for 10 times its annual revenue, and Bowman had sold $600,000 worth of baseball cards alone just two years before. The purchase price makes no sense, until you dig a bit deeper.

Read More »Why Bowman sold out to Topps, or how Topps bought Bowman

Windows 7 spies on you like Windows 10 now

This is a few days old now but needs to be addressed–a lot of people were planning on staying on Windows 7 because they don’t like Windows 10’s new privacy settings, but unless you uninstall some stealthy updates, Windows 7 spies on you too.

Microsoft used to call this “scroogling,” and launched a massive PR campaign against Google, but now they’re doing exactly the things they blasted Google for doing, only they’re collecting money to do it.

So basically Microsoft is trying to have it both ways now–charge for the OS, but treat the consumer as a product. Windows 7, of course, was a paid upgrade, and Windows 10 is only free under special circumstances–businesses and OEMs still pay for it.

To make Windows 7 and 8 stop scroogling you, uninstall KB3068708,  KB3075249, and KB3080149, all of which have the word “telemetry” in their description.

Lenovo’s preinstalled Superfish spyware: A post-mortem

So, if you haven’t heard by now, last year Lenovo experimented with preloading its cheapest laptops with spyware that subverts HTTPS, allowing a third party to inject ads on any web page, and providing a convenient place for an attacker to hide behind while messing with your secure transactions.

By the end of the day yesterday, Lenovo had apologized, sort of, and after several sites had provided removal instructions, Lenovo provided its own. After spending much of the day downplaying the security concerns, by the end of the day they were at least reluctantly acknowledging them.

This was really bad, and I’ll explain why in a second, and I’ll also try to explain why Lenovo did it.

Read More »Lenovo’s preinstalled Superfish spyware: A post-mortem

Cutting through the fluff around the Target PIN breach

OK, so Target is back in the news, and it’s nowhere nearly as bad this time but there’s some posturing and some fluff in the news, so I’ll take it upon myself to demystify some of it. Some of it’s PR fluff, and some of it’s highly technical, so I’ll cut through it.

I’m just glad–I guess–to be talking about this stuff outside of a job interview. Like I said, this time the news isn’t nearly as bad as it could be.Read More »Cutting through the fluff around the Target PIN breach

What do you have against Frank White, Mr. Glass?

The Kansas City Royals didn’t exactly fire Frank White this week. They just dumped him like last week’s garbage.

And that’s a completely classless act, given Frank White’s history with the franchise. Frank White literally helped build Royals Stadium–now Kauffman Stadium. He worked on the stadium construction crew as a teenager. He went to the Royals baseball academy, worked through the Royals’ minor league system in three years, then played 17 years for the Royals at second base, winning 8 gold gloves, appearing in five All-Star games, and hitting cleanup in the 1985 World Series. He did everything the team ever asked of him, and he did it well. After his playing days were done, he came back to the Royals in 1997, where he’s done various jobs but has rarely been appreciated.

Read More »What do you have against Frank White, Mr. Glass?

Shame on you, Medtronic

Insulin pumps marketed by Minneapolis-based Medtronic have a serious, life-threatening security flaw, and the company couldn’t care less.

For these two reasons, this isn’t your typical security flaw, and Medtronic’s response–in 30 years, we’ve ever seen a problem that we know of–is beyond deplorable. Ford’s infamous decision to pay lawsuits rather than fix a deadly flaw in the Pinto comes to mind.
Read More »Shame on you, Medtronic

Terms of use for this site (Or: Deep-link me, please)

So, more companies are attempting to prohibit so-called deep linking, which is where you can’t link to stories themselves, but rather, you have to link to the front page and the poor reader has to try to find the story you’re thinking about.

So let it be known that you can link to anything on this site you darn well please. Not only do I allow it, I like it.As far as search engines are concerned, front pages are worthless. Either they have meaningless PR or marketing fluff on them, or they change all the time.

You shouldn’t have to tell people how wonderful you are. How wonderful you are should be evident from your site’s content. Let the reader read, decide for him/herself how wonderful you are and whether to come back.

So, I don’t care if you deep-link. I don’t care if you print out a copy of an entry on this site for personal use. You can’t republish it or sell it (those are the rights I retain) but if you want to put a copy of something I wrote in your 3-ring binder of useful stuff, then frankly, I’m flattered. Don’t put the text on your website–link. Advertising on this site generates a small amount of money that pays to keep it running and what’s left will allow me to pay off my Honda about a week sooner than I would have otherwise. So don’t steal my pennies.

But deep-linking to a story here that you found useful is as good as giving me pennies. This is something a lot of corporate lawyers don’t seem to realize.

I also don’t care how or when you read it. If you want to translate it through Google or Babelfish into your native language so you can enjoy it more, go ahead. Just don’t blame me when the computer butchers your native language once or twice per paragraph. If you want to read it in the bathroom or sitting under a tree or anywhere else, fine. Just please don’t read it in your car while you’re driving. Yes, I’m being greedy again. If you get into an accident and wind up in the hospital, then you’re not reading my site, so I don’t get any pennies. The guy in the car you crashed into isn’t reading my site either, so I don’t get any pennies. The only people who benefit from you reading my site in your car while driving are slimy insurance companies. I don’t like insurance companies, so please don’t read my site in the car while driving.

So those are my terms of use. I hope you find them less onerous than those of companies like Orbitz, who seem to want to tell you how to run your life.

That’s fine if they do that. Nobody’s forcing anybody to visit. They can have their onerous terms, then whither and die. Sites that respect your basic rights–like this one, hopefully–will continue long after those others have withered away.