12/29/2010

hr manager needed, too

One of the reasons I have long liked Apple is that their business model makes sense. They sell stuff that customers pay for. So long as both parties are happy with that relationship, things will continue indefinitely; what will ebb and flow are simply users at the margins who move with fads and technological changes and so forth.

One of the interesting business models that's developed more recently in the tech world is one built upon advertising. Google is an advertising company; they compete with newspapers and radio stations much more than Microsoft or Apple. Like Google through its flagship Search product, Facebook delivers a valuable product in its core offering - the social network - but one that, like Google, isn't valuable because of the tech aspect. It's valuable because of the network effect, because 'everybody does it'. And like Google trying to monetize outside of search, Facebook faces the intriguing challenge of trying to monetize an idea that everybody knows. The phone book and the little black book and even contact management software have been around for ages. Heck, even digital directory programs predate Facebook; the program at my school was called Faces.

So when you're built on a model of extracting value discretely from users rather than billing customers directly, there's enormous pressure to cut corners at the expense of quality. When I saw this ad, I thought it beautifully captured the ongoing strategic challenges for an ad-based world.



They need a secretary themselves.

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12/24/2010

merry christmas

May your celebrations this season be Joyful and Festive
May your mourning bring Healing and Peace
May you treasure dearly that which is worth remembering from the Old Year
And for that which is not, wholeheartedly embrace Change in the New

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12/07/2010

up is down, black is white

donuts are healthy, Pizza Hut isn't greasy...

...the Bush tax cuts are now the Obama tax cuts(?!?)...

and the US government is effectively at war with a website for doing precisely what the US government has theoretically, supposedly, like, claimed to support
"Information has never been so free," declared Clinton. "Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable."

Read it and weep, Wikileaks. You took the Executive Branch of the United States at its word.

Ha! Joke's on you.



Now if only a certain college football team with the Spartans as their mascot were also getting royally screwed, there would be a great tie-in...

Oh wait!

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2010 pre-bowl rankings

I continue to find it fascinating when various commentators care more about what they wish had happened during this particular football season than actually analyzing the actual season that was actually played.

To recap:

1. The Pac-10 has had a rough season. Only two teams have fewer than five losses. The third team in the conference is 6-6. Only four teams have winning records. Fully half the conference isn't bowl eligible - counting sanctioned USC among the bowl-eligible. Even in the Big East, three quarters of the conference is bowl-eligible. The WAC and MWC both have half their teams bowl-eligible (9 of the 18 total teams in the two leagues). And obviously, the Pac-10 thinks enough of Utah (and Colorado, for that matter) to beg them to join.

2. The Big Ten, similarly, is Aces and spaces. Only three teams have fewer than five losses. Heck, only three teams have winning records in conference play. Unlike the Pac-10, at least there are three quality programs instead of two and the bulk of the league is headed to a bowl game. But similarly to the Pac-10, those top teams played very few games against quality opponents.

3. Name the best team Stanford has beaten all year. Five loss Notre Dame? Or perhaps you prefer the five loss USC team that lost to Notre Dame? Or five loss Arizona? Similarly,

4. Name the best team Ohio State has beaten all year? The five loss Iowa team that lost to the above-mentioned five loss Arizona team? The five loss Miami team that, in addition to losing to Big East South Florida, lost to fellow ACC teams Florida State and Virginia Tech, teams which were themselves beaten by Oklahoma and Boise State? In contrast,

5. Michigan State, Nevada, and Boise State are one-loss teams that have much better wins than Stanford and Ohio State. Is it even relevant that Michigan State beat Wisconsin, who beat Ohio State?

6. And then there are the two-loss teams. Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and LSU are all teams with more impressive wins than Stanford and Ohio State. Arkansas gets into the BCS because the Sugar Bowl won't pick a slate without an SEC team, and Oklahoma gets to the Fiesta Bowl as Big 12 champs. LSU can't get in because the BCS only allows two teams per conference. This leaves two other slots. No way should Stanford and Ohio State be ranked above all three of the other one loss teams plus the two available two-loss teams. So,

7. Voila. We'll be subjected to another month of hearing about 'big name programs' and 'talent' and 'matchups' and basically anything to distract from those inconvenient 2010 Ws and Ls.

8. Bowl records don't prove anything. The point is who deserves to get there; most any team has a shot at beating most any other team in one game. However, this could be a particularly clear year about the over-ratedness of Ohio State and Stanford and the supremacy of the Big 12. The Big 12 in its finale as a twelve team league stands a very good chance of only losing one or two bowl games.

9. Nebraska hasn't been helping the Big 12. I'll organize some thoughts at some point about the transition of the Big 12. But the short story is that losing to Nebraska hurts those other Big 12 teams a lot, while Nebraska's wins hasn't helped them get ranked highly or helped those teams that beat Nebraska jump up the standings. It's no coincidence that both the Pac-10 and Big Ten are sending at-large teams, while the Big 12, with four ten win teams, gets none. Oregon is getting into the national championship over TCU.

1. Auburn
2. Oregon
3. TCU
4. Michigan State
5. Oklahoma
6. Missouri
7. Arkansas
8. Wisconsin
9. LSU
10. Oklahoma State
11. Nevada
12. Boise State
13. Ohio State
14. Stanford
15. Virginia Tech
16. Texas A&M
17. Nebraska
18. Alabama
19. Utah
20. Florida State
21. South Carolina
22. West Virginia
23. Mississippi State
24. Hawaii
25. San Diego State

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random musings on jury duty

At some indeterminate point in time I may have an indefinite number of observations to make about a specific civil or criminal matter that may or may not be proceeding somewhere in the city of St. Louis.

Until such time, there are a few random thoughts that can clear the censors.

1. Wow, there is either a lot of lawsuits, a prosector's office that is desperate for some extra convictions, or just the whim fancy of coincidence due to only having two data points for reference. Whatever the case, the Jury assembly room was absolutely packed. The last time I was called, I sat for two days in a room that was never more than half full. Yesterday morning, every seat was taken. They were yelling at folks for trying to sit or stand in the aisles.

2. If metal detectors and shoe-wearing is good enough for our court system, how the heck is the TSA's existence justified?

3. Why do they require you to be there by 8:00am on the first day? Nothing was going on.

4. Square this one for me. How does one exercise one's 'intellect and conscience' while also listening to instructions from judges to act without regard for what one believes the law ought to be?

5. Seriously, think about number 4.

6. Downtown is actually pretty nice on a sunny fall day.

7. Communicate end times for the day. Is it so hard to tell folks when they will leave and get them bus passes ahead of time so that if you have to, say, to pick a completely random example, get your car from the shop by 5:30 pm, you know that 1) you will be able to get there by then, or 2) you won't be able to get there by then and should make alternate plans now, long before 5:20pm.

8. Is Jury duty a 'duty' or a 'privilege'? Listening to how many folks aren't eligible is a hodge-podge of hierarchy, class, oppression, and what not. Active duty? Under 21? Felony conviction? I continue to be surprised I've only been called twice in the entire time I've been living in St. Louis.

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