Computers, software, administration, spending
Why don’t Verizon, AT&T take care of “roaming” customers?
While I understand that market conditions and regulations keep Verizon and AT &T, the two biggest carriers, from covering every RV Park and city in America, I don't understand how they can leave their millions of customers in the dark when they are out of those companies' service areas. Don't they understand that free roaming is critical to keeping the millions of their customers who travel happy when they're away from home?
Verizon phones and its MIFI card don't connect in Colter Bay, WY, or West Yellowstone, MT. And the very nice West Yellowstone KOA isn't able to provide Internet connections via TengoInternet, a service used by many RV Parks. Even a dumpy little Cooke City, MT, motel we had to check into after a pass was closed due to snow had an unworkable internet as well as no Verizon.
In the Fairmont RV Park at Anaconda, MT, just west of Butte, we finally got a weak Verizon MIFI signal that we both could use.
All of this has been very frustrating for a political news junky like me who also is trying to keep up with the NBA playoffs and the stock, money and commodities markets.
When you have to do a hard shut down of your iPhones and Mi-Fi in Wyoming and Montana, you know that Verizon doesn't take care of rural America. RV park neighbors seem to be online with AT&T, and they say their phones get three bars. While three bars doesn't mean much, being able to make phone calls and get on the Internet does.
DW says, get used to it. You're in the boondocks and you're headed to Canada and Alaska where Internet connections will be just as bad. She's probably right.
Meanwhile, we're reading books and writing our journals. It's beautiful and peaceful here, and we'll enjoy it while we can.
e-commerce • Quality • Technology • Phones • Vacations • Permalink
Medium.com is a powerful, interesting new social media site for users of twitter, Facebook
One of the advantages of having been on social media sites for some 30 years is that I've experienced the fun of being on CompuServe, Internet message boards, this blog since 2003, newspapers' comments sections, twitter and FaceBook.
And now we have another social media site that I rediscovered this morning on twitter.com.
http://www.Medium.com announced its plans last year, and I registered as a member, but I didn't realize that it was up and running until I saw its tweet a few hours ago.
After signing in with my RealDonJohnson twitter account, I read a few articles and then dug into the "About" pages. (You may have to sign in with your twitter account to read that and other links I'm going to post here.)
Medium appears to be for people who want to write real articles, not just 140 word tweets or one-paragraph posts on FaceBook.
The site wants people to follow its style books, use its specified dictionaries and write "percent" instead of "%", which takes only one keystroke. I'm a "%" kinda guy. But if I decide to post on Medium, I'll try to use their style, which I think will keep a fair number of contributors away.
The next thing I read in the "About" section was a very detailed explantion of how "authors" and commenters can use the site. Writers can authorize readers to post "notes" next to sentences and paragraphs, not far away, deep in the middle of 1,000 comments posted below the article.
Notes appear in the margins of the page, right next to the sentence or paragraph they address. Notes writers are limited to only 200 characters per note, and you can't break those notes into paragraphs.
Long blocks of type are unreadable and unread. I believe in short paragraphs—the old Chicago Daily News style.
What's great about Medium's notes is that an author can turn them off, zap trolls and nasty comments and reply to those who post notes. And the author is the "moderator" and can make useless and nasty notes (flames) invisible to all but the author and the note writer.
In other words, authors and commenters can have real conversations. I'm hoping that Medium's authors will engage their writers. Few if any reporters for blogs, news sites like Politico.com or WSJ.com interact with commenters. I think that's a mistake and missed opportunity to engage readers.
Articles are posted in what Medium calls "collections". There are dozens of them. Sign in and take a look.
Obama should let BP fix the well; government should focus on protecting our shores
Some big government Republicans and Democrats, including Colorado’s Ken Salazar, are demanding that Obama shove British Petroleum asside and put the government in charge of fixing the broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. That makes as much sense as putting politicians in charge of Apple and telling them to create a better iPad.
Politicians and bureaucrats are totally unprepared to deal with an oil well malfunction. Even BP’s experts are having to feel their way toward stopping the flow of oil from the broken well into the Gulf. It’s time for the public, press and politicians to realize that even the best engineered machines malfunction, and fixing them can take time.
What the government should be focusing on is helping BP and the private sector protect our shores on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. It should be providing leadership in the effort to rally all of the oil industry’s resources to take as much oil as possible from the water and to build dikes and other obstacles that will help mitigate the damage to our fisheries and shores. Indeed, I think that’s what the government is trying to do, but it’s not doing a good job of telling the public what it’s up to.
Obama’s spending all of his energy pretending to be angry and trying to shift blame to President George W. Bush, prior administrations and, of course BP.
Even though most Americans work in private and public bureaucracies and know how long it takes to solve complex problems, they’re mad because BP and the government weren’t able to stop the oil lead on day one or on day 35. Irrationality, as usual, is ruling the day as Obama and some Republicans are trying to irresponsibly politicize the huge tragedy in the Gulf.
PPC • Ethics • Trust • Technology • Permalink
No iPad for me‚Äîyet
Apple reportedly sold 600,000 to 700,000 300,000 iPads over the weekend Saturday when the new tablet computers first became available. That beat some analysts’ expectations that Apple would sell 200,000 units and met the expectations of those who predicted it would sell 300,000 units. One analyst went out on the limb and prematurely reported that Apple sold 700,000 units. I haven’t bought yet despite the glowing reviews. The 10-hour battery life appeals to me and now that Amazon’s Kindle app for the iPad appeared Saturday, the toy looks very appealing. But a new MacBook is due in June, and that may suit my needs for a great computer with a keyboard better than the iPad. This assumes that the battery life of the laptop also gets a boost. Otherwise, it always pays to wait for Apple’s second release of a new product. So I’ll try to wait at least a year for iPad II.
Obama’s ties to ethanol, corn lobbyists distort his views of energy markets
Corn-based ethanol is helping inflate energy and food prices, and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), his party’s presumptive presidential nominee, has close ties to the ethanol and corn lobbies, the NY Times reports here.
Having spent the last two days driving 982 miles from central Illinois across Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado, I can tell you that when ethanol is blended with gasoline, it reduces mileage by more than three times the price discount offered on gas blended with the corn-based ethanol. I’ve had the same experience in previous trips across the corn belt.
In other words, the lobbyists representing Illinois-based corn growers and ethanol producers have Obama in their pocket.
Politicians and economists who aren’t dependent on ethanol and corn lobbyists agree that when President Bush and members of Congress enacted huge subsidies for ethanol in an effort to win Corn Belt votes and campaign contributions, they made one of the biggest mistakes in top-down, centralized planning in the history of the country.
Their support for ethanol, which is basically a not very well hidden agricultural subsidy, got them elected. And it has helped inflate energy prices and has made a lot of foodstuffs unaffordable and even scarce in poor countries.
Now Obama is proposing to have the federal government spend $150 billion over 10 years on research into alternative energy technology. That boondoggle for alternative energy venture capitalists and entrepreneurs would not only take money out of the pockets of tax payers but also distort the capital and energy markets even more. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Agriculture • Stocks • Energy Stocks • Taxes • Technology • Permalink
AAPL: Is Apple’s operating system 10.5.3 upgrade a big problem?
Apple (AAPL) appears to have released a very buggy upgrade to its operating system last week.
Its support forums are full of complaints, including mine. I have a G5 iMac, and when I upgraded Friday to OS 10.5.3 from 10.5.2, the problems began.
1. The computer goes into a deep sleep and won’t wake up. You have to unplug the machine to turn it off before rebooting.
2. When the computer goes into a deep sleep, the fan comes on and runs loudly. You have to unplug the computer and reboot.
3. People are having major problems with applications as common as Microsoft Word and Excel.
I’ve owned Macs for almost 22 years and have used OS X for years. This is the messiest upgrade I’ve experienced.
Full disclosure: I don’t own AAPL.
How to use Yahoo Pipes to track mentions of your organization on the Web
I’m reading Always On, Advertising, Marketing and Media in an Era of Consumer Control, by Christopher Vollmer of Booz Allen. I’ll review the book for FAR and here soon.
Anyway, it got me to thinking about Church of the Customer by a couple of other social networking and marketing consultants.
There I found this post on Yahoo Pipes, which I want to followup on as soon as I get time. The link is here.
Marketing and Sales • Blogging • Technology • Permalink
Can Microsoft overtake Yahoo, Google?
Microsoft (MSFT) has a chance to parlay its strengths in technology and display advertising and growing skepticism about the effectiveness of pay-per-click search advertising into long-term wins against Yahoo (YHOO) and Google (GOOG), according to the cover story in the May 19, 2008, are here. Of the three stocks, only GOOG has a bullish point and figure chart price objective. Reuters offers data on all three companies here.
Based on the BusinessWeek story and my experiences as a web surfer and pay-per-click advertiser, this is how I see the relative strengths of the three companies:
1. Resources for the technological and marketing wars: Microsoft is stronger than Google, but not much, and both are a lot stronger than Yahoo.
2. Technology that will make search and advertising work for advertisers: Microsoft beats Google beats Yahoo.
3. Pay-per-click search advertising: Google has a 75% market share and Yahoo is way ahead of Microsoft.
4. Display advertising technology and market share: Yahoo is a bit ahead of Microsoft, and both are way ahead of Google.
5. Traffic on web sites: With 500 million unique visitors a month, Yahoo is ahead of Google, which beats Microsoft.
6. Content: Yahoo beats Google beats Microsoft.
Microsoft is making a major pitch that pay-per-click advertising is way over rated, and as a former advertiser, I’d have to agree. Pay-per-click fraud is still a big problem on Google and Yahoo, I think. But will display advertising be better? I notice the ads and only click on them accidentally.
For small business advertisers, Google is still the best deal. And it’s the only place Mac owners can use their favorite computers instead of their WinTel backups.
Full disclosure: I do not have positions in any of the stocks mentioned here.
For educational purposes only. Investigate before you speculate.
e-commerce • Marketing and Sales • Advertising • Small Business • Technology • Permalink
YHOO: Yahoo e-mail works for large and small businesses
Yahoo.com offers free e-mail accounts, and a reporter for wsj.com hit the system’s physical limit with 55,000 messages in her in-box. She’s getting some flack from her readers, but she’s also publicizing a great service. Google offers a similar service called G-Mail, which I’ve never tried.
Small business offered internet phone services by RingCentral, 8x8, M5 Networks
Phone systems and services can be costly overhead items for startups and small home based offices, and some new internet-based phone companies are aiming to exploit that small business market, writes Rebecca Buckkman in today’s wsj.com.
Gates Foundation portfolio owns no technology
Bespoke Investment Group explores the Gates Foundation’s holdings here.
Recession watch: Cut technology spending now
With consumer spending slowing as consumers worry about their jobs and the rising costs of energy and food, if not housing, capital spending declines certainly are in the works as well. Gartner Inc. (IT), a leading technology research and consulting firm, has put out a news release advising its clients and the world to cut their technology spending now.
Obviously, this won’t help technology stocks or the economy, but it’s realistic, and IT managers will be smart to take Gartner’s adivice seriously. Stock charts have been saying the same thing for some time. Click on these charts to see daily, weekly and point and figure charts. Most of these stocks are down quite a big from where they were last fall.
Gartner advises clients:
Apple’s upgrade of Leopard to OS 10.5.2 gets positive reviews
My upgrade on my 17” iMac G5 took about 38 minutes. I had to hit the restart button at about 18 minutes. I’m on a slow DSL line. No big deal. But at first glance the upgrade hasn’t fixed my Mail problems. Mail still doesn’t see my folders on dot mac or on my other POP3 mail host. On Apple’s support forum, the Mail problems are discussed in detail. Nobody has a total solution as far as I can see. So I downloaded Mozilla’s Thunderbird, which presents its own problems. Still working on it.
You may not want to replace your Blackberry with a Palm Treo
Having suffered two Blackberry server outages, some small business owners may be looking at alternatives, including PALM’s Treo, as noted in a previous post.
Beware. PalmInfoCenter.com reports customer satisfaction with PALM’s phones is horrible while satisfaction with the Apple iPhone is unbelievable.
And I’ve got two years to go on my Treo contract? Sigh.
Hat tip to Daringfireball.net.
How would Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo affect small businesses?
Microsoft is in the process of of acquiring Yahoo.
Owners and managers of small businesses, however, are asking other questions. (click on head)
Small Business • Stocks • Technology • Read More