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.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm197: Short Attention Span

November 17, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

shortattention_thumb2

Short and sweet for a football Saturday:

Daily, the media reveals the results of some important new medical study. Daily, the survey results seem to be spun out of all recognition of what are the true implications of the research.

Sandy Szwarc blog, Junkfood Science, punctures the preconceptions and the distortions by actually reading the studies, cutting through the spin and reporting to her growing audience the truth. We’ve highlighted some of her recent work here and here, and our Drafts folder of our Windows Live Writer has the makings of a future such post, pending suitable long attention.

This week, Sandy Szwarc marked the first anniversary of her extraordinary effort, Junkfood Science.

A cupcake for each of you

It’s Junkfood Science’s first birthday. While I can only share a cyber-cupcake with each of you in celebration, it comes with thanks and a note to let you know how terrific you all are! Readers have grown in numbers, without hit gimmicks or paid media connections, to nearly 1 million. We’re mere days away to the millionth reader.

Regular readers get what this blog is all about, too. It’s not trying to sell you anything; market some politician or agenda; promote some health and wellness program, diet or pill; or scare you. Of course, that’s the fastest, surest way to make one unpopular among all those who are. Despite what some may believe or claim, there is no money in the truth and speaking out for scientific integrity, either, which is probably why we so rarely hear it. But you deserve better than the nonstop “the sky is falling” drumbeat we get everywhere.

Happy blogversary, Sandy Szwarc! You remain a glowing example of the power of the blogosphere to inform and educate.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Junkfood Science: A cupcake for each of you

shortattention_thumb2[6]

Some of our highest highs and lowest lows are the result of our enjoyment of Patrick Smith’s Ask the Pilot column at Salon.com. Highs, because he writes so compellingly as a working commercial airline pilot about his profession and the ailing industry.

Highs, because our posts referring to his stories are among the most read at this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

Lows because my derivative howbeit well-intentioned blogging efforts came to the attention of Salon’s lawyers. Oh, well, the day one stops learning is the day one stops.

Patrick’s column this week takes an interesting swipe at that Apple iPhone television commercial we’ve all seen.

Not buying it when the pilot tells you weather is holding up your flight? iPhone to the rescue!

Nov. 16, 2007 | If you’ve been watching TV at all, you’re by now familiar with Apple’s iPhone blitz. You know the campaign I’m talking about. Each ad stars this or that insufferably regular Joe who proceeds to share some touchy-feely tale of how his iPhone all but saved the nation from calamity. As a rule, I don’t like talking about television, especially commercials, but I’m obliged to address the iPhone spot featuring the pilot.[…]

Alas, not everyone is wisely skeptical, and the first time I saw the ad, I flicked off the set and offered up a silent prayer for pilots and flight attendants the world over. Thanks to this half-minute charade, they must now contend with legions of smart-aleck iSleuths gullible enough to believe what they’re told by a commercial.

So I guess today’s potpourri has some commonality after all. Most weeks Patrick Smith, and all of Sandy Szwarc’s posts, skewer the assumptions we’re fed by what many of my colleagues in the ‘Sphere contemptuously refer to as MSM, the mainstream media.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Ask the pilot, Patrick Smith, iPhone | Salon Technology

For some, for these two certainly, blogging is so much more than a hobby or creative outlet. Patrick Smith and Sandy Szwarc are both listed on the L-HC blogroll2, and MUDGE is grateful for their hard, always illuminating work.

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Since as a typical guy, MUDGE is fascinated by planes, trains and automobiles (and in some lighting [all right, any lighting] might even distressingly resemble a very much shorter John Candy, sorry to admit), our last segment is an editorial from the NYTimes this week.

The Prince and the Plane | Published: November 14, 2007

On Monday, a Saudi billionaire, Prince Walid bin Talal, placed an order with Airbus for his new private plane, the A380. That superjumbo will be the largest private jet on the planet. No hard figures were mentioned, but the asking price for an A380, which weighs 200 tons more than a Boeing 747 and has a floor space of about 6,000 square feet, is around $300 million. That is for the raw plane itself, hull, wings, engines, etc. — nothing to distinguish its interior from the hold of a cargo plane. But even unfurnished, the purchase of this Airbus offers some interesting numbers to think about.

For instance, the average-size house in America — about 2,300 square feet — would cost $106,812,000 at the price per square foot that Prince Walid paid. Even in California, this is a lot.

a380

Notwithstanding the fact that the Times editorial gave us an always welcome excuse to include an aircraft photo, and even lets us remind you that Patrick Smith believes the A380 to be the ugliest aircraft ever placed into commercial service, this is a salutary reminder of the wretched excess that our insatiable appetite for Saudi oil makes possible. A comparatively benign example at that.

Sigh.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


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