Friday, March 25, 2011

Groupon Inefficiency

But, in what seems to be an increasing number of cases, customers come for the deals and then leave for deals offered by other merchants through Groupon. So the number of "new" customers attracted by cheap prices increases, and the number of loyal customers decreases as shoppers prefer to become "new" again for whomever offers the best. deal.

'Ya think? While I am not above deals, in my quest for cheapness, I am also sick unto death of all the time, energy and attention absorbed by deal-hunting. It's the electronic equivalent of coupon clipping, totally inefficient. I really prefer everyday low prices, like Sams, Walmart and Amazon. Much more sustainable.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wave Cuts Or Layoffs

I agree with the ideas here, at least in situations of severe recession. Interestingly, the very concept that there might be an alternative to layoffs is foreign to most people I talk to.

o it seems bosses are smart not to cut wages. It's bad for morale, which is bad for productivity. Sending out pink slips might seem similarly demoralizing, and thus bad for productivity, but layoffs have a more complicated effect on the lucky employees who hang on to their jobs. Layoffs can even boost productivity by giving workers a bit of extra motivation to prove their value, in the same way that Ford's high salaries encouraged hard work. And it might not be so crazy for workers to respond to wage cuts with suspicion—in the current recovery, corporate profits have sprung back, even as wages have stagnated. What could be more unfair, from the worker's perspective, than a cut in wages accompanied by higher profits? Yet this aversion to pay cuts isn't good for workers or the American economy more broadly. More people end up losing their jobs than if wages were more flexible, and there are serious long-term consequences for the workers who lose their monthly paychecks. The negative impact on a worker's earnings, health, and even the earning prospects of his children lasts decades beyond the pink slip's arrival. Creative solutions—like the furloughs that cut government salaries in California and elsewhere—might help to make lower pay more palatable, by presenting the cut as a temporary measure and by creating at least the illusion of a lower workload. If we can find other ways of overcoming the simmering resentment that naturally accompanies wage cuts, workers themselves will be better for it in the long run.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Sleeping on the beach
Slathered fully in sunscreen
Hat shading my eyes

I Want to Short Groupon

At $25 billion, Groupon's valuation would top Google's $23 billion market value when it went public in August 2004.

I don't normally mess around with anything other than index mutual funds, but I would be sorely tempted to heavily short Groupon, at anything approaching that kind of valuation.

Japan's Call to Strength

Prior to the quake, Japan was a timid nation worrying about its eventual decline. People expected nothing from the nation, and the mutual help across generations and the trust in local communities was beginning to crumble.

Maybe this disaster will serve as Japan's Call to Strength. 9-11 should have been America's, so maybe we can use this event as our national wake up call, too.

The Last Trace of Vaudeville?

Normally I would equate "Street Performer" with "occasional, undesirable feature of modern urban life". But in Key West, Florida, it means something much different. We watched four different acts in Mallory Square, and they were all quite good. It made me think this must have been a lot like what Vaudeville-something I am much too young to have firsthand knowledge of-must have been like.

Apple vs Pear: Doesn't Matter?

This is the kind of "nevermind" reversal that causes so much confusion and cynicism amongst the general public. I wonder if the original belief was a correlation problem: more women are pears, and for reasons having nothing to do with body shape, of course, women have fewer heart attacks. That correlation might have confounded prior studies?

A major new analysis challenges the long-held idea that obese people who carry their extra weight mainly around the middle - those with an "apple" shape - are at greater risk for heart disease than "pears," whose fat tends to cluster on their thighs and buttocks.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grade Point Averages

Converting a numeric test score to a letter, only to convert it back to a number in order to calculate GPA--how dumb is that?!  This is right up there with the (not so) old practice of quoting stock price in sixteenths! Seriously, doing it this way makes zero sense, but since it has always been this way, nobody questions it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Computer In Your Hand

Although I am an Android smartphone fan, my normal routine doesn't actually involve prolonged heavy use, since I spend most of my day in front of, or very near to, a computer. But now we are on vacation, and while we do have a netbook to share amongst the five of us, there is obviously a lot of competiton for time on it, so I am using the phone much more heavily. Verdict is pretty favorable

My phone is a Samsung Vibrant, aka Galaxy S, so a good, fast, large-display 2nd-generation Android phone. The combination of capable hardware, large screen, steadily improving OS and apps, and the wonderful SwiftKey virtual keybord, all combine to make it a very pleasant, productive experience. I have even started making shorter blog posts from the phone--not bad at all. Also,  Read It Later continues to delight. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Apple Is The Exception That Proves The Rule

DAVE WINER: Meanwhile it's the stuff that doesn't get the hype that has a chance to go through the iterations needed to achieve market acceptance, off on the side, without millions of users showing up Day One. Almost every product we use was like that. (Recent Apple rollouts are the exceptions. Don't know how they do it. They must have quite a testing process going on behind the curtain.)

Gorilla Glass - Branding Case Study

Corning's Journey From Cookware To Gorilla Glass:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Slugging Form of Ride-Sharing

This is a great phenomenon. I have always thought that if we could just induce half the rush hour drivers to carpoolbwith just one other person, that would instantly reduce traffic by 25%. Thanks key is the finely balanced system of rewards that the article describes for Washington DC slugging.

Longform: Beautiful, Curated Blogroll of Long Magazine Articles

A great source of material for Read It Later is The really nice part is that Longform has recognized this synergy, and offers specific versions of its SAVE button, that implement the Read It Later bookmarklet. So it is one-click effortless to flag an article that looks interesting, simply based on its caption. (Arts & Letters, are you listening :) ?)

As A Reading Platform, Smartphones Finally Achieve

I've complained before about the disappointing shortcomings of Android phones as a reading platform. One of the very biggest limitations was speed-of-access--article weren't cached. I am happy to say that I now consider those limitations fixed. The new Read It Later app is just terrific, and sells for the extremely reasonable price of $1. Another competitive option is the Everpaper client for Instapaper.

Both these apps meet the minimum for solid competence:
  1. Offline access--very fast, and can use when you don't have data (e.g., airplane).
  2. Ease of adding content.
  3. Auto-formatting for mobile-friendly reading layout (very, very important)
  4. Good reading client, including the very important configurable font-size.
  5. Web browser bookmarklets--for flagging articles on your computer, and having them auto-synch to the reading app.
  6. Good, sensible mobile configurability--lock orientation, specify when to synch.
The extra features that set Read It Later apart:
  1. Auto-saves your place in the article--this is very critical.
The minor polishing that it still needs:
  1. Full-screen option, to make full use of limited real-estate.
  2. A scrollbar on touch, so that you don't have to swipe page after page to fast-forward or scroll back.
  3. Tied in to the above, browser-style forward and back buttons.
  4. Page-Up, Page-Down tied to the volume rocker switch, of course! (Or a tap-to-turn, like the Kindle app)

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Hate Carpeting

It feels good underfoot, but it harbors germs and allergens, and it deteriorates SO rapidly.


I'm not so sure I'm *personally* excited by the prospect. I 100% use the DVR for all my TV-watching, thus minimizing time wasted via commercials. I have to believe any new delivery system will be very focused on trying to force you to watch commercials. The commercials may be more relevant, perhaps even shorter/fewer because of the higher value of being relevant, but they will certainly be there in numbers. Of course there is always the "analog hole" to overcome that, I suppose.

STILL not THAT tough a winter

The weather guy said "I counted 18 nights below zero, well short of the average number of 28 during an "average winter" ". And it wasn't that windy. So extra snow, but less cold.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Android Gift Cards

I totally agree with this blogger, that Android needs gift cards, I have been on this page for a while. My kids have Android phones. No expensive data plans, but just the phones. No way am I putting a credit card on their accounts (I actually trust them, but accidents happen). I know a lot of people want carrier billing, and for adults (young adults) I understand why, but that would be as bad as a credit card, for the use case in question.

I would like to get a $10 Android gift card that my kids can use for the very limited number of things they need to buy (fun $1 games). In the meantime, I hadn't thought of the Visa card, that is a very good work-around. I suppose in some ways better, for my purposes, since I can buy a gift card for $20, let my son buy his $1 game, and use the rest at Wal-Mart.