mm405: Boston, Day 1

June 9, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Whew!

Just finished a very long day, the first day attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.

I don’t go to so many conferences. In fact, in the nearly four years of employment at the Heart of Corporate America (not its real name), as well as the three years of contractor status that it, this is only the second conference that I have attended under the HCA aegis. How ironic that it is also located in Boston, the site of the event that I attended last summer. Of all the towns in the world…

But, I do like Boston, even though, as alluded to last post, I feel stranded in the middle of a desert, located as we are in a concrete jungle of a redeveloped industrial district. Boston is a wonderful town in which to be a pedestrian — but not in this corner, not that I could pedestre very well anyway. [Looks like I may have coined another word — the ‘r’ is silent; but it does sort of look like pederast, doesn’t it. Oh, well, back to the drawing board.]

Although I title this Day 1, the event’s organizers, as is often done apparently, treated today as Day 0, Monday being the more popular business travel day than Sunday. The sessions today were lengthy tutorials. A choice of two each, morning and afternoon. 9am to 12:30pm; then 1:30pm to 4:45pm. Then a further two hour panel discussion that finally ended at 7:30pm. The real action starts tomorrow. I’m already worn out.

I do take copious notes. Now, many of my fellow attendees today, perhaps most of them, brought their laptops to the sessions. There were even power strips scattered along the floor, for the first half-dozen lucky people each who got to them.

Now, yr (justifiably) humble svt would have been happy enough to note take via laptop, but as there were no tables, just rows of chairs, and as I, uh, don’t have a lap for said laptop, just a short slippery slope as it were, that might result in a potentially lethal slide for same, I took my notes the old fashioned way, pen on notebook page, six tightly printed pages to be exact. I have a lot to show for 8-3/4 hours of conference. But it all has to be transcribed.

I wanted to keep up with this daily; perhaps even transfer some of this post into the event’s blog that I’ve heard exists although I haven’t found it. But, as I type this it’s already 10pm; had too much to eat at the hotel’s surprisingly good restaurant (surprising mainly because they have no competition for at least the half-mile radius until another hotel appears in this wasteland called the Seaport neighborhood); and I was up early. Never sleep well in anyone else’s bed except my own, and the hotel is justifiably proud of its comfortable bed. I’m just a crotchety old curmudgeon.

Anyway, there are six pages. Let’s see if I can summarize, while it’s all still fresh.

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mm389: A further word about process…

May 23, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

As an addendum placed at the end of the previous post, yr (justifiably) humble svt mentioned that Comcast had prevented timely daily posting because service, at least at MUDGEville, had been interrupted for 32 continuous hours this week.

Shortly after that post had been published, our connection, which had reappeared at 7:00am as randomly as it had disappeared two nights before, again disappeared.

The Comcast customer service protocols between the three calls that have been placed in the past few days were strangely different, but I really don’t have the patience to rehash — we all have our call center horror stories. At least all of these were domestic facilities.

The third call, though, was so refreshingly different, with so little harassing “protocol” compared to the first two, that I wondered whether I had reached the same company. Upon reflection, perhaps I reached a different outsourced call center. What a positive difference! While I hope never have to make another call to Comcast (except to cancel!), my reality ballcap tells me that of course I will! When I do, I can fervently hope that it goes to “Thomas.”

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mm362: Written, as usual, on a Sony PCV-RS620G desktop PC

April 28, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

I consider myself technologically sophisticated. Made my living by writing really sophisticated code for; creating applications for; using; and lately teaching the advanced use of; electronic computational devices for nearly 40 years.

Started when the average of such computational devices filled large, refrigerated, raised-floor (to clear the boa constrictor cabling) floor to ceiling windowed but locked chambers.

Large box (think refrigerator sized) with colorful lighting containing the computer itself with its proud array of 64,000 bytes of hand-assembled magnetic core memory. Folks, that was 64KB.

Today’s home PCs are stunted if they have less than 512MB. I recently upgraded the memory in my own PC: bought 2GB (about 31,000 times larger than that 64KB magnetic core processor for which we wrote so cleverly, and compactly!) for about $100.

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mm147: The Crazy Eddie economy

September 20, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Always one of MUDGE‘s favorite reads, Daniel Gross enlightens us about the true nature of our economy, in this Slate story regarding a couple of recent very visible pricing actions.

crazyeddy

slate

The alarming lesson of the iPhone price cut.

By Daniel Gross
Posted Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007, at 4:31 PM ET

Crazy Eddie, the electronics retailer who advertised insanely low prices, went out of business nearly 20 year ago. But the company’s spirit is thriving in blue-chip American corporations. On Sept. 5, Apple sharply cut the price of the 8GB iPhone from $599 to $399. Last weekend, Hovnanian, the big home-builder, held a highly promotional “Deal of the Century” campaign, slashing prices for 72 hours on new condominiums. In some Hovnanian developments, prices were cut by up to 25 percent. Other builders are now following suit. Welcome to fire-sale nation!

High-profile price-chopping tends to occur whenever companies freak out about the vicious combination of a slowing consumer economy and the prospect of getting stuck with big inventories of unsold goods. The tactic often works in the short term. The hype over insanely low prices functions as a form of free advertising, and the lower prices tend to attract buyers. Apple announced on Sept. 10 that it had sold its 1 millionth iPhone. Hovnanian’s preliminary results show that it notched sales of 2,130 units over the weekend. (The company reported inventory of about 3,200 homes on July 31.) For the entire third quarter, Hovnanian delivered about 3,500 homes.

I’m not an iPhone user (see below) but who could miss all of the hype, which during all of 2007 has rivaled or even exceeded the last Harry Potter for consumer interest?

And, how did it make you feel, iPhone owner or not, to hear that the price was suddenly reduced by $200, and in (partial?) assuagement present owners would receive a $100 store credit?

As Mr. Gross puts it, I would probably be iPissed. (WIWICWLT!)

But, in true economist fashion, from this example, as well as the Hovnanian (not a name this observer knows — must be less active in the Midwest? Or perhaps it’s because this writer has never purchased a new-built home?) home price cuts, Gross builds a convincing case for how damaging this tactic is for the companies, and for perhaps the economy at large.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Crazy Eddie economy. – By Daniel Gross – Slate Magazine

From my many exhausting and tortured years in entrepreneurial business, I know too well that there’s no such thing as too low a price, and if price is the only grounds for competition, you are doomed to bankruptcy.

Gross points out the domestic U.S. auto manufacturers as perfect examples of the walking dead, the zombie behavior caused by selling a product no one will pay full price for.

Ask a bank that writes auto leases what it thinks of Detroit-origin cars, compared to Toyotas and Hondas, which may have spot incentives to correct the occasional inventory imbalance, but usually never very high in comparison, nor very long.

Now about that phone.

This is not meant to start warfare: I simply have always been resistant to Apple’s lovely, but oh so expensive charms, be it computers, music players, and now smartphones.

When it came time for me to upgrade my personal cell (it’s a BlackBerry 8703c for work, tyvm) I found that I had En-V envy.

En-V

Yes, it’s the LG 9900, known for some reason as the En-V. Candy bar (a fat one) on the outside (nice 2MP camera opposite), and it flips open to reveal a pretty fair keyboard and nice large display. MUDGElet No. 3 likes to text — now I can text back.

It’s been two months; I like it. Call quality (it is, first and foremost, meant to be a phone, after all!) is best I’ve ever had, regardless of network (and in MUDGE‘s part of the world, Verizon’s is pretty good).

The camera produced that ad hoc shot I shared after the Boston conference.

0808071931a

For a larger view, click here.

The navigator feature gave us spoken turn by turn instructions to a restaurant, complete with a changing map on the bright display as we drove. Not too shabby.

And with a 2-year contract (is there any other way these days?) and loyalty discounts, it was $50. $599 or even $399 for a phone? Not this curmudgeon. Can’t feel like a chump, no matter what happens to the price from here!

That’s the best pricing power a consumer has, really. Finding a good, maybe great product, at an everyday competitive price. I’m not bankrupting LG (the phone, popular as it is, has been out for most of a year, very mature for technology these days, so you have to figure they’re making piles on it), nor Verizon (per the 2-year contract), nor, hopefully, myself.

Win-win-win.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE