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Monthly Archives: November 2011

So That Happened

November 21st, 2011 - 2:50 pm

It’s official: The SuperCommittee has failed to reach a deficit-reduction agreement.

Cue the calls to rescind the intolerable automatic cuts that are supposed to kick in now. And by “now,” of course, I mean, “in 2013 or never, whichever comes later.”

The Long and Grinding Road

November 21st, 2011 - 2:08 pm

A little something from Ed Gillespie caught my ear on Meet the Press yesterday, and since it didn’t fit into the Hair of the Dog format, let’s talk about it here. He said to David Gregory that

“This process is different for Republicans this time. We’re going to have proportion delegate allocation throughout a lot of our process — which we haven’t had,” Gillespie said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“There’s not going to be much incentive to Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum or Rick Perry or Ron Paul to drop because they’ll be likely accruing delegates along the way,” Gillespie told host David Gregory.

The Democrats have their proportional system, which is designed to “give everyone a voice” in the process. It doesn’t matter how long it might take (Obama collected enough delegates to win just a week or so before his coronation in Denver in 2008). It doesn’t matter how bruising it might be to the candidates, or how expensive it might be. Everyone must be “heard,” even if they don’t really have much to say.

The GOP’s primary system was designed to — get this — select a nominee, and in relatively short order. It didn’t always work that way. And sometimes the quickly-selected nominee would turn out to be a Bob Dole or a John McCain. They won their intra-party contests without too much trouble, but proved wholly ineffective in taking the fight to the other side. But, hey, you have to nominate from the candidates you have, and in 1996 and in 2008, the GOP enjoyed a riches of embarrassment.

So now the GOP is tossing all that aside to go to a proportional system like the Democrats “enjoy.” Going up against an established incumbent with unmatched fundraising prowess, the Republicans are set for an expensive and endwarfing nominating process seemingly tailor-made to exploit their weaknesses while enhancing the President’s strengths.

In one of his WWII histories — memory fails me which one — Stephen E. Ambrose discussed how replacement soldiers were rotated into units. Traditionally, a small unit (company or below) would take losses until it could be rotated out away from the fighting. Green replacement soldiers would be brought in and trained up, and then the unit would rotate back into the front.

General Eisenhower had a “better” idea for the fighting in France. Units would stay right there on the front. If a unit needed a replacement, they’d just plug one right into the hole, straight from across the Channel. The results were awful. Some untested kid, a stranger to his unit-mates, would find himself under fire — and without friends. He’d have to survive those first few days without much support from his comrades until he’d proven he wouldn’t do something stupid and get everyone killed.

Ambrose concluded the system was so bad, it was the one Hitler himself would have come up with, if he’d have been allowed to create our replacements system for us.

Well, the Democrats have created the worst-possible nominating system the Republicans could hope to use next year. So, naturally, the GOP has opted to use it.

They don’t call the GOP the Stupid Party for nothing.

“If you refuse, I’ll haunt your prostate.”

November 21st, 2011 - 12:03 pm
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Bad Lip Reading: The Ron Paul Edition.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

November 21st, 2011 - 11:43 am

Here’s how Washington cuts the deficit:

1. Make some fake spending cuts.

2. Raise the debt ceiling so that real spending can continue.

3. Form a SuperCommittee to hash out a deal cutting $1.2 trillion out of the next decade’s $44 trillion in spending and/or $11 trillion in deficits.

4. Set up automatic spending cuts to take effect in case the SuperCommittee fails.

5. The SuperCommittee fails.

6. Axe the automatic spending cuts.

7. Business as usual!

And that’s it, unless we get to:

8. Appoint a SuperDuperCommittee consisting entirely of members who have been bitten by radiative spiders.

I’m really hoping to see Step 8.

Kindle Fire: A Swing and a Miss?

November 21st, 2011 - 11:35 am

The Kindle Fire: “Don’t call it a tablet.”

Ars Technica does one of its super-in-depth reviews of the Fire, and that’s the verdict. It’s the tablet that isn’t really a tablet. Here’s why:

But in our time with the Kindle Fire, it fell far short of what tablets should be able to accomplish. As a vector for Amazon’s video and music stores and huge e-book selection, it’s great. As an e-reader, it’s merely OK. As an Internet and app portal, it falls short of Amazon’s promises.

As an Amazon Prime member since launch day, I was hoping they’d knock one out of the park with the Fire. But with the reviews I’m reading, I’ll wait for Fire 2 or Fire 3. Amazon is still going to sell boatloads of these things — because at $199, it’s practically an impulse purchase.

Yet the draft-release Fire reminds me of something Steve Jobs said about Atari and Commodore computer, back in the early ’80s. He didn’t worry about the smaller, cheaper computers because he considered them “advertisements” for why people really needed an Apple ][ instead. As a Commodore owner, I sure didn’t feel that way — but I knew lots of kids who did.

In the same way, the cheaper, less capable Kindle Fire might remind buyers that what they really wanted all along was an iPad.

Fill it to the RIM — With Fail

November 21st, 2011 - 10:54 am

Look out, BlackBerry fans:

In a note to investors Monday morning, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky suggested that sales of RIM’s latest devices are slowing. “Despite on-time BlackBerry 7 launches, checks are showing slowing domestic sell-through, plus impacts from recent service outages and PlayBook challenges (delayed software, sluggish sell-through),” Abramsky wrote. His checks mirror the findings of similar checks performed by Canaccord Genuity analyst Mike Walkley last week.

Americans have pretty much stopped buying BlackBerrys, unless their IT departments buy one for them. When the rest of the world catches up, that’s the end.

Win a Date with Mitt!

November 21st, 2011 - 8:54 am

So I just got this email from Tim Pawlenty — on Mitt Romney’s e-stationary:

Stephen,

Like you and millions of Americans, I have watched Mitt at recent GOP debates share his vision and bold ideas to fix our troubled economy. He continues to demonstrate why he is uniquely qualified to turn this country around.

One lucky Mitt supporter will soon get the chance to attend Debate Night at Romney HQ in Boston. That same day, I’ll be in neighboring New Hampshire campaigning for Mitt.

It would be great to meet you before the debate.

By donating $3, you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to join me in New Hampshire and experience debate night at campaign headquarters in Boston http://mi.tt/HQdebatenight

I know Mitt is in the habit of aping Democrat ideas, but this is ridiculous.

Answering the Important Questions

November 20th, 2011 - 9:31 am

Trifecta: Why do things suck?

There’s something in the water — brown acid? — at Occupy San Diego, Tea Party headlines you’ll never see, and find out what makes President Obama so dreamy — all on another exciting episode of… The Week in Blogs!

Bonus: Special guest appearance by some guy wearing longjohns and cowboy boots.

Friday Night Videos

November 18th, 2011 - 9:19 pm

The Blow — True Affection.

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Sort of a lesbian electronica love ballad. Oddly great little tune.

Obama to Ohio: Get Stuffed

November 18th, 2011 - 10:28 am

Obama punts on jobs again:

President Obama’s United States Department of Agriculture has delayed shale gas drilling in Ohio for up to six months by cancelling a mineral lease auction for Wayne National Forest (WNF). The move was taken in deference to environmentalists, on the pretext of studying the effects of hydraulic fracturing…

The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) recently estimated that drilling in the Utica shale, which is affected by the suspension of the mineral lease auctions, would produce up 204,500 jobs by 2015.

Meh. It’s not like Ohio needs the jobs.

Excellent — if chilling — report from Eli Lake on Israel’s preparedness for war with Iran:

A U.S. intelligence assessment this summer, described to The Daily Beast by current and former U.S. intelligence officials, concluded that any Israeli attack on hardened nuclear sites in Iran would go far beyond airstrikes from F-15 and F-16 fighter planes and likely include electronic warfare against Iran’s electric grid, Internet, cellphone network, and emergency frequencies for firemen and police officers.

For example, Israel has developed a weapon capable of mimicking a maintenance cellphone signal that commands a cell network to “sleep,” effectively stopping transmissions, officials confirmed. The Israelis also have jammers capable of creating interference within Iran’s emergency frequencies for first responders.

It’s the return of total war, a high-tech/high-precision version of what we did to Germany and Japan in WWII.

Ain’t Nothin’ But Mammals (or Reptiles)

November 18th, 2011 - 7:53 am

Sexual harassment in the Navy, and turtles: A primer.

One More Thing

November 17th, 2011 - 11:45 am

Now that I’ve had a chance to cool off, take a shower, a shot of tequila, I can tell you exactly what’s wrong with iTunes/iCloud.

Let’s start with the newest half of the problem: iCloud.

The cloud — generally speaking — is an idea whose time has mostly come. With our multiple devices, computers, and who-knows-what in the future, it’s a good thing for your data to exist in the cloud. Being able to get everything, anywhere, is what connectedness is supposed to be about. And it’s finally coming about.

What you need to keep in mind is — and now I’m speaking of Apple’s iCloud specifically — is that what exists in the cloud is the “truth.” The cloud is the final arbiter of the Real Version of each document. That’s a little hard to accept at first, but somebody must be the arbiter. And the arbiter ought to be the cloud. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an unworkable array of versions across your devices. That goes for your apps, your personal data, your settings, and all the rest.

The problem is, nobody thought to tell that to the iTunes development team.

My iCloud-restored iPad came crashing against iTunes, and iTunes decided — against Apple’s own iCloud policy — that iTunes had the Truth concerning my iPad. And so my almost-fully-restored iPad became my fully-erased iPad. After that, hilarity ensued.

What my problems this week revealed, was the weakness of iTunes as a device manager.

Now, for media, iTunes is unbeatable. I use it to manage a library of 12,000 songs, 1,600 movies, and 3,000 TV episodes. It also handles my podcasts and all the rest. And I’m hard on iTunes, too. I used multi-nested self-updating “brilliant playlists” over two computers, three iPods, two iPads, three Apple TVs, and a couple of iPhones. And iTunes does all this brilliantly and effortlessly.

But when it come to actually managing the devices as devices, that’s where iTunes falls painfully short.

iCloud has issues — Apple still doesn’t “get” the cloud. It’s outside their area of core competence. Hopefully that will change. iTunes has issues, too, once you take it outside its core competence of media management. And when those two failures collide… watch out. I just spent two days picking up the wreckage from the crash.

Apple needs to work out the kinks in iCloud, and tell the iTunes team — in no uncertain terms — that the cloud is Truth. Had they gotten that little detail straight from the start, I’d have had no sad tale to tell you today.

Until that gets fixed, iCloud/iTunes is going to be causing a lot more headaches than just mine.

One Small Step for a Man…

November 17th, 2011 - 10:43 am

Trifecta: Scott Ott for Congress??? Nah — let him get his work done in Lehigh, County.

Then we can wrangle him for Congress.

An Unhappy Customer

November 17th, 2011 - 8:21 am

The following appears exactly as I posted it just minutes ago to Apple’s iCloud feedback page. It isn’t pretty.

If you’re using iCloud to keep on online backup of your iOS device — STOP! Put your backup back on iTunes where it might — might — do you some good.

My copy of iTunes ran into a problem with my iPad, and I was advised to wipe my iPad and restore from iCloud. Well, fine, that’s what iCould is for, yes? Here are the problems I encountered, in order. And please remember that everything I went through, was done by Apple, by design. None of this was by mistake.

1. iCloud restore takes forever, even with a fat internet connection and 811N WiFi. About 12 hours, all in all. Keep in mind, that was about 18GB worth of apps. I have no idea how long it would take to refill a 64GB iPad. Supermodels will grow beards before that gets done.

2. Let’s say you’ve had a full day of work and then dinner and then tucked in your kids, and by now your iPad is fully restored. OK, maybe it’s fully restored by now, if you had a long dinner and a second bottle of wine. Now, it’s time to put your music and photos back on your iPad, right? FOR GOD’S SAKE, NO!!! Whatever you do, do not — do NOT — plug your iPad into iTunes. Because iTunes will very thoughtfully erase every single one of your apps. Yes: All of them. Erased.

3. Restore from iCloud AGAIN. That’s another day I’m not getting back.

4. Naturally, I called AppleCare to find out what had gone wrong. Why must I choose that iTunes give my either my apps or my media, but not both, after an iCloud restore?

5. First, I spent three phone calls dealing with AppleCare’s “intelligent” voice assistant. He’s very wordy, and doesn’t like being interrupted, even when you already know the answer. He’s like the econ teacher in Ferris Bueller, only less engaging. Also, he’s very hard of hearing. I work in broadcasting, have near-perfect diction when I choose, and could not make “him” understand even half of my answers. Twice I hung up so I could start fresh. The third time I finally made it understand — and was sent to the wrong department. I believe at Apple, this is what they say “just works.”

6. At long last, I spoke to “Jason,” whose name I’ve left completely the same to expose the incompetent. Jason’s idea of “helping” me, was to insist that I re-download each app individually, by hand, from the App Store. I explained to Jason — first softly, then eventually by yelling — that what he was suggesting wasn’t just a huge timesuck, but that it would also mean losing every single bit of precious personal data from each and every one of my apps. Trust me, I am not that anxious to begin Angry Birds anew from Level 1-1.

7. Having quickly soared far above Jason’s level of competence and then into the lofty heights of wanting to strangle him to death with a live mongoose, I demanded to talk to a supervisor.

8. My demand resulted in 30 minutes of Hold music, followed by being hung up on.

9. Yippee! It’s time for Round Four of Steve Versus the “Intelligent” Voice Assistant!

10. After two tries, the “intelligent” voice assistant put me through to LaTanya, who may or may not have been in the iPad department. I have no idea, because I very quickly explained my situation and that I needed to speak to a supervisor. LaTanya seemed lovely and, above all, competent. She put me through to Annie in short order and stayed on the line with me to make sure I didn’t get disconnected again. In my heart, I think of LaTanya as “the anti-Jason.”

11. It took a while, but Annie was able to explain that, yes, if you restore from iCloud, then iTunes will erase all of your apps unless you take some very specific steps. “Why?” I asked. There was no answer to that one, not even a bad answer.

12. First, you have to find the secret box to check, that says, “Prevents iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically.” Apparently, “not syncing” in this case means “not erasing.” But that doesn’t mean you’re finished — oh, no!

13. Because if you want to put little things on your iPad — little things like your music and videos and pictures, oh my! — then you’re going to have to jump through a few more hoops.

14. Hoop #1: Plug your iPad into iTunes, first triple-checking that you checked the box mentioned in Item 12.

15. Hoop #2: Hand-check each app that you want to keep on your iPad, in the little scroll box of apps that appears in iTunes. I have about 400 apps, 250 of which go on my iPad. I hope I check all the ones I need and none of the ones I don’t, but my hopes aren’t high. Also, if you forget to check a box, then VOOM! goes your personal data for that app. And there’s no getting it back.

16. Hoop #3: Did you get everything right in the last Hoop? Are you sure? OK, go ahead and press Sync, but say a little prayer first. I know I did. Now, I want you to marvel at the fact that your 250 apps no longer appear in all the nice, neat folders you made for them! Presto, change-o, it’s like giving your iPad to a spiteful eight-year-old. Only it isn’t a spiteful eight-year-old, it’s just iTunes!

17. This is really just a continuation of Hoop #3, but go ahead and re-arrange every single one of your apps into folders again. Do you have a good memory? Good enough to remember where 250 apps went, what their folders were named, and where those folders were located? Yeah, me neither.

18. Realize that you’ve been at this, on and off, for 48 hours, and that your iPad STILL isn’t back where it was when you backed it up.

Think about that: You just spent 48 hours almost-but-not-quite fixing your iCloud backup.

This is the single worst customer support issue of my adult life, and I was once a Dell owner.

iCloud is so bad, that if Steve Jobs were alive today, he would die.

ONE MORE THING: I just now discovered something. Yes, it’s another Hoop! How did you guess? Anyway, if you’re trying to redo all your folders in iTunes instead of directly on your iPad: DON’T. If you leave the iPad tab for any reason without hitting “sync” first, all your changes will come undone. I just lost 40 minutes worth of work.

OH FER CRYIN’ OUT LOUD: I know I said not to do this, but I just spent another 20 minutes or so in iTunes, putting all my apps back into folders for syncing back to my iPad where the apps were already in folders, but — oh, never mind. Anyway, I got everything organized and clicked “Sync.”

Very thoughtfully, iTunes noticed that I’d missed re-adding a few apps. It told me I could go ahead and sync, but that I’d lose some data. It even told me which apps were missing. Well, I didn’t want to miss any data, so I clicked cancel to go back and re-add those apps.

And when I clicked cancel, iTunes very thoughtfully undid all my work and I had to start from scratch. Again.

So I’d like to amend that mean thing I said about Steve Jobs a little while ago. Instead, I’d like to say: If Steve Jobs were alive today, we would pronounce iCloud “crap” and publicly humiliate the entire iCloud team.

Then he would die.

FINALLY: What Apple needs to do right.

RFK Jr Scores Big Bailout Bucks

November 16th, 2011 - 11:25 am

Because what the Kennedys need is some of my money.

The Race to 270

November 16th, 2011 - 11:18 am

The Obama reelection campaign seems to be suffering from a case of split personalities, at least if today’s National Journal story by Kraushaar is right:

The president’s advisers are stuck between pursuing two distinctly different strategies and two very different kinds of voters, each of which is crucial to his reelection. The first is an “Ohio strategy,” which means adopting an aggressively populist message to win back blue-collar voters in Rust Belt states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The second is a “Virginia strategy,” which would emphasize a more centrist message aimed at upscale white-collar professionals and college-educated suburbanites. The Virginia strategy would also appeal to voters in Colorado, Nevada, and North Carolina, and would probably be bolstered by a mobilization of young voters and minority groups, who make up a significant share of the electorate in those states.

By my reckoning, North Carolina is already gone for Obama next year. During the “perfect storm” of 2008, Obama was still only able to win NC by 14,000 votes. That’s going to be a tough trick to repeat now the “Hope and Change” has become “Gloom and Doom.” Colorado and Nevada are still winnable — NV especially so with Harry Reid’s casino machine going full tilt. Colorado, still purple as always, will be a tougher nut to crack.

The Ohio Strategy looks like the smarter play. The Great Lakes and Upper Midwest are next year’s battlegrounds, period. The swath of Rust from PA through MN are where the next election will be decided. Minus, of course, IL and IN. IL will go blue and IN will go red, and that’s pretty much the end of that story.

Obama won by a comfortable electoral college margin three years ago, although I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that he did worse than GHW Bush did in 1988, up against an opponent no more unworthy than McCain. That said, no Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio. And it’s impossible for a Democrat to win without capturing most of the Rust Belt.

And there’s another thing. The way Kraushaar sells it, Team Obama is stuck between appealing to either blue collar union workers or hip exurbanites. Well, looking at the notoriously unhip GOP field, I think Obama can feel safe that he’ll still pocket the hip vote.

You can expect Obama ’12 to look a lot different — and more blue collar — than Obama ’08. And that makes the potential for a Clinton-Biden Switch much more likely.

Laws for Thee But Not for Me

November 16th, 2011 - 10:05 am

Trifecta: Peter Schweizer uncovers the “honest graft” in Washington, as Capital Hill lawmakers exploit their own rules to benefit from insider trading and cheap stocks.

Spend! Spend! Spend!

November 16th, 2011 - 8:34 am

Finally:

Consumers are giving a modest lift to the economy.

They spent more on trucks, electronics and building supplies in October to boost retail sales for the fifth straight month.

The gains provide an encouraging start for the October-December quarter. They come just as separate reports show that wholesale prices are flattening and U.S. shoppers are spending more at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer.

Consumer spending accounts for 70% of all US economic activity, and consumer deleveraging accounts for much of our no-to-slow growth these last two years. I’m still waiting to see what consumers do during the Christmas season, however.

It’s the Honorable Thing, Your Honor

November 15th, 2011 - 2:42 pm

Trifecta: ObamaCare goes to the Supremes — but should Helena Kagan recuse herself?

Newt Gingrich Looking at People Condescendingly

November 15th, 2011 - 9:22 am

A photo essay. And also: Heh.

And Christiane Amanpour Just Loves Her Devices

November 14th, 2011 - 5:02 pm

Hair of the Dog: Bob Schieffer gets sent to the penalty box, Juan Williams almost earns himself an Eyebrow of Total Disdain™, and Michele Bachmann wants to collect protection money from the Iraqis.

It was a hard-drinking weekend for this blogger I can tell you.

Building the Perfect Beast

November 14th, 2011 - 2:38 pm

Trifecta: Creating the ideal presidential candidate — Frankenstein-style.

An American Gorbachev

November 14th, 2011 - 12:04 pm

Hat tip to Glenn for finding this one concerning the President’s concern for our “laziness” as Americans:

What this is, is the opening shots in the inevitable decay of a Socialist economy. When productivity starts dropping and there are fewer resources available for redistribution, the leadership notes that the people aren’t working as hard as they used to. The obvious conclusion is that the people have gotten lazy, and the nomenklatura then start on a campaign to get people to work harder and more effectively. Look up some political posters from the USSR of the Twenties and Thirties for examples. [Emphasis added]

That’s a stunning observation from Ric’s Rulez. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if maybe he’d missed the mark.

In the Twenties and Thirties, the Soviet Union was still an empire on the rise. It was industrializing rapidly (although at a horrible price) and was centralizing control of the peasantry (again at a horrible price). If an empire doesn’t mind killing a few tens of millions of its own people — or “breaking a few eggs,” to use Lenin’s memorable euphemism — it’s amazing what one can accomplish.

And thanks to Walter Duranty and many other influential Communist propagandists, the Soviet model was the envy of the Western world. If only the United States enjoyed that kind of free publicity.

No, the Soviet model Ric made me think of this morning, was Mikhail Gorbachev’s.

When Gorbachev assumed power in 1985, one of his first acts as General-Secretary of the Communist Party of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Commies do like their titles), was to launch an anti-alcohol campaign. Americans, we eat too much and watch too much TV. Russians, they drink until they just can’t drink anything more. And then that’s when they peel the foil top off the really cheap hooch. “Vodka” comes from the Russian for “little water,” and they’re not kidding.

According to the link in the last graf, alcoholism

was a major scourge in Soviet society, linked to high rates of child-abuse, suicide, divorce, absenteeism, and accidents on the job, and contributing to a rise in mortality rates particularly among Soviet males that was detected in the 1970s.

That’s no way to run a rising empire. In fact, by the time Gorbachev came around, the Soviet Union was already in the second decade of its slow, fall onto the ash heap of history.

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A Decade Ago Today: The Fall of the Taliban

November 14th, 2011 - 11:46 am

It’s been ten years — and I hope I’m not being rude — but did we ever get that oil pipeline built?

Go Home

November 11th, 2011 - 5:44 am

We didn’t see this coming? Read:

The NYPD has moved three elite Manhattan homicide detectives and a deputy chief to the raucous Occupy Wall Street protest in response to a rash of sex attacks, thefts and vandalism — including graffiti scrawled on the nearby 9/11 Memorial, The Post has learned. [Emphasis and outrage added]

OWS was never about petitioning the government for redress of grievances. It’s time to stop it and send these kids back home or off to jail.

Trifecta: Wisconsin state employees don’t want to contribute to their own health and retirement benefits, even though private sector workers do this year after year. Does the key to good government rest in local and state reforms, and leaders like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal? Find out.

Just One More Premature Obituary for Nintendo

November 10th, 2011 - 12:39 pm

Remember a couple weeks ago, when we last spoke of Nintendo’s woes? It’s worse than I thought:

Their next portable system had better be good — but even that might not be good enough.

Apple destroyed its own iPod business by building an iPod app into every iPhone and iPad, for no extra charge. Nintendo has been happily building little Gameboys, apparently without a thought to what technological advances to do to the portable gaming market.

The chart above shows what naturally resulted.

The Fire’s on Fire

November 10th, 2011 - 12:32 pm

How not to compete with Apple — Just copy their stuff:

Intel’s thin-and-light “Ultrabook” design, inspired in part by the success of Apple’s MacBook Air form factor, continues to struggle in the market, prompting PC makers Acer and Asus to reduce orders by 40 percent.

The two companies originally planned to order as many as 300,000 Ultrabooks by the end of 2011, but slow sales forced the company to reduce those orders to between 150,000 and 180,000 units, according to DigiTimes. The report labeled first-month sales of Ultrabook Windows-based PCs as “unsatisfactory,” citing sources at original design manufacturers.

“Compared to Apple’s MacBook Air, Acer and Asustek’s Ultrabooks do not have advantages in either performance or industrial design,” the report said, “and their weak sales were expected, the sources noted, adding that notebook players are putting their focus on after May 2012 with expectations to see surging demand in October 2012, when Windows 8 launches.”

How to compete with Apple — do your own thing, really well:

Faced with greater than expected demand, Amazon has increased orders for its Kindle Fire tablet to a total of five million by the end of the year, according to a new report out of the Far East.

Taiwanese publication DigiTimes noted the figures on Thursday, citing sources within “upstream component suppliers.” Based on recent tablet estimates from research group Gartner, Amazon would pickup roughly 8 percent of the 2011 tablet market if it were to sell all five million units.

The report suggested that Amazon had raised its order volume from 3.5 million to four million in the middle of the third quarter before raising orders again. The significant pre-release interest has come as a bit of a surprise to the company.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a press release last month that his company was increasing production capacity for the Fire in order to build “millions more” than originally planned.

I know not everybody is Jeff Bezos, but c’mon Windows computer-makers — get a clue.