The Exchange

August 31, 2011

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“To our health,” exclaimed Charles.

“He’s here,” announced Tiffany Belkin, as she clinked champagne glasses with her dinner companion, took a sip of the sparkling wine, and leaned toward Charles for a quick kiss. Sitting in a dark corner of the restaurant on a busy Saturday night, they were indistinguishable from a number of other young couples, enjoying a romantic dinner on a pleasant spring evening.

A block away, Tiffany’s words caused the personnel in the van to go on high alert.

A short distance from Tiffany and Charles, their quarry was perusing the menu.

“What would you recommend?” he asked the man sitting across from him.

“What a silly question, dear Marcel. The prime rib, but of course.”

Marcel smiled at Boris’s characteristic response. Each time they met to do business, Boris selected prime rib.

“Don’t you ever tire of the prime rib, Boris? Perhaps a rib eye, veal parmigiana, or even a nice Caesar salad?”

“Salad? Salad? We are carnivores. Carnivores. Man rose not to the top of the food chain with the eating of lettuce.”

“You keep talking that way and people are going to mistake you for an American.”

“Good, good,” said Boris with a smile. “That would suit my needs very well.”

Charles winked at Tiffany as Boris uttered these words. Confirmation that Boris was a foreign national on U.S. soil for the sole purpose of espionage. Tiffany returned his wink and placed a hand on his thigh. Undercover work had its advantages, he mused.

Marcel opted for shrimp, while Boris remanded dedicated to his prime rib. As they waited for their meals to arrive, the conversation shifted toward business.

“I have a package for you,” announced Boris.

“And I for you,” responded Marcel.

“You have the real deal, yes? I’ve encountered some problems with some of your comrades. In a few cases, outright forgeries.”

“Oh no,” replied Marcel with a soothing smile. “I’ve got the bona fide stuff – intellectual property of the U.S. government.”

“Yes, I believe you do. My people have a great deal of trust in you.”

Tiffany leaned over and whispered into Charles’s ear. “BUSTED. We got ’em! This is so exciting.”

Charles kissed her gently on the lips while speaking softly to her. “We still need to wait for the transfer.”

Tiffany nodded in response and gulped the rest of her champagne with a giggle. Charles could see the impact the adrenaline was having on her – transforming her from merely pretty into an extremely seductive woman. He could feel himself being drawn into her web … but the time for such thoughts was later. They needed to focus on the task at hand.

An hour later, as Marcel crossed the street carrying the package from Boris, he was apprehended by federal agents. Inside the restaurant, Boris smiled as the attractive women from a nearby table sat down across from him. He had noticed her earlier. He smiled with anticipation. American women were so bold.

Then her male companion slide in beside her, and Boris frowned. “What is the meaning of this?”

“Federal agents,” explained Tiffany, flashing her badge.

“We’re busted your little spy ring, commie,” explained Charles.

“Spy?”

“Give us the package.”

Boris slowly handed the packaged to Charles, who ripped it open. He stared at the contents for a long moment, trying to make sense of it.

“Stamps?”

“Stamps,” replied Boris. “I am a collector, as is Marcel. We trade.”

“We heard you discussing forgeries, and documents that were the intellectual property of the U.S. government,” pressed Tiffany.

“Of course they are the intellectual property of your government. They are the ones who commission the artwork for the stamps. And forgeries … ah, this is the scourge of the hobby. You can never be sure until you place them under a magnifier, but Marcel comes to me well recommended.”

In the van, a similar scene was unfolding. A half hour later, the agents were drowning their sorrows in a nearby bar. Marcel Ackerman of the State Department was not a spy after all. Once again, bad information had led them astray, and they had harassed innocent people. Sometimes this job sucked.

In a hotel across town, Boris Korovin was using an Xacto knife to split the cover of a stamp album into two pieces. He pulled out the document encased between the halves, placed the album to the side, and began work on the next one in the pile.

Note: this fiction story is based very loosely on an interaction between alleged U.S. spy Felix Bloch (a State Department employee) and a Soviet agent whom Bloch knew as Pierre Bart.  You can read more about Bloch on Wikipedia. 

Is Michael Vick Worth $100 Million?

August 30, 2011

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The big news in the sports world today is Michael’s Vick’s new six year, one hundred million dollar deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.  The Eagles nabbed Vick off the NFL trash heap as a reclamation project after his legal troubles involving dogfighting.  Last season, Vick set career highs with 21 touchdowns and 3018 passing yards, while tossing only 6 interceptions.  The Eagles were sold on Vick enough to trade away former savior Kevin Kolb.

Obviously, Vick’s greatest asset is his ability to scramble.  Vick has surpassed 500 rushing yards in a season on 5 occasions, and has even topped 1000 yards once.  His career rushing average of 7.1 yards per carry is very impressive.  His ability to run also buys him time to find an open receiver.

Unfortunately, those legs are going to get old.  In the last year of that deal, you’re going to be watching a 36 year old Michael Vick who last lost a step or three.  The rushing yards will drop and the number of sacks will climb a bit.  He’ll have to win games with his arms instead of his legs.  Can he do that?  Let’s look at the numbers throughout his career.

Year TD INT
 2001*  2  3
 2002  16  8
 2003*  4  3
 2004  14  12
 2005 15  13
 2006  20  13

* denotes partial year

Let’s look at those TD:INT ratio.  0.67, 2:1, 1.33:1, 1.17:1, 1.15:1, 1.54:1.  Last year, he had a ratio of  3.5:1.  Those aren’t great ratios, and it’s quite possible that the interceptions could climb if Vick’s declining speed forces him to make more throws that he does today.  In spite of his obvious talent, his career high in total passing+rushing yards is the 3694 yards from last season.  Far from being a 4000 yard passer, Vick isn’t even a 4000 yard player.

Worth having on your team?  Certainly.  Worth $16M this year?  Perhaps.  Worth $16M in 2016?  Probably not.  Of course, NFL deals are non-guaranteed, so the Eagles could also cut Vick to shed payroll.

Around the NFL

Peyton Manning has been clear for limited practice.  There’s still a good chance he won’t be available for the season opener on September 11.  The Colts coaxed veteran QB Kerry Collins out of retirement to take the reins if Manning in unable to go.  The existing backups for the Colts did not inspire much confidence.

The Raiders drafted Terrelle Pryor in the third round of the supplemental draft (which means they will forfeit their third round pick in the 2011 draft.  Pryor will not be eligible to play until the sixth week of the season. Is the “born to be bad” Raiders organization the best fit for a guy who ran afoul of NCAA regs? Probably not.

Crittenton Arrested on Murder Charges

Former NBA player Javaris Crittenton was arrested Monday.  Authorities allege that he fatally shot Jullian Jones on August 19.  They also believe that Jones, a mother of four, was not the intended victim, but that Crittenton was trying to get revenge for an earlier robbery.

Crittenton was a one-and-one player at Georgia Tech.  He was drafted 19th overall in the 2007 drafted.  Since then, he has played for three NBA teams (he also signed with a fourth team, the Bobcats, but did not play for them), China’s Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, and most recently the Dakota Wizards of the NBA’s developmental league.  In February of 2010, he was in the midst of a locker room incident involving guns.

All this, and Crittenton is still just 23 years old.

Guide To Guerrilla Investing

August 29, 2011

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[Editor’s note: turn back the clock to October 13, 2008.  In a dark corner of Blogspot, I launched the blog that would become The Soap Boxers.  This was the very first article.  As alluded to in the original title, and again in the final sentence, Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal was an inspiration for this article.]

A modest proposal: guerilla investments tactics

Many times, we hear about class warfare. The poor and middle class doing battle with the rich.

Unfortunately, this is not the battle that they should be fighting. Instead of fighting people outside of your socioeconomic status, you should instead be fighting the people within your own financial strata.

There are two ways to get ahead in life. You can pull yourself up or push others down. Is it easier to climb the ladder, or to push others off? Is it easier to sail around the world, or to sit in ambush and sink the ships of those who would attempt such a folly?

In the financial arena, many people are overlooking a simple fact. The prices of goods and services rise and fall with respect to the relative supply and demand. You might have a million dollars in the bank – but the true test of wealth is what you can buy with the money.

I recommend commencing guerrilla economic warfare.

In order to reduce the prices of goods, it is simply necessary to reduce the demand. One way to do this is to drain the resources of people in your financial strata, effectively pushing them down into a lower class. Today, there might be five people who are interested in purchasing a certain item. If you can cause three of these people to encounter financial difficulties, you will reduce the competition (demand) for the item, and thus the price.

One of the more effective ways to do this is to convince your victims to play the lottery heavily. Not only does this reduce the finances of your friend, but also takes the money out of the private sector. In theory, it should even reduce – or stall the increase – in your state income tax by providing extra revenue to the state.

You should proceed with caution when suggesting plans that would transfer wealth from your victim to others in the private sector. You do not, of course, want him to give the money to someone who is slightly below you in wealth, allowing the receiver to climb into your class. This would be a complete waste of energy, as it would result in no change in your relative wealth.

Instead, you should convince them to give their money to people who are much wealthier. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have little impact on the market for three bedroom houses. In a best case scenario, you want the money to go to someone with very few employees, to reduce the possibility that the wealthy person’s employees could climb into your financial strata. Ponzi schemes and other scams work very nicely.

Take this advice to heart, and be Swift in your actions. Your financial future is at stake.

Kosmo’s Non Sequiturs

August 27, 2011

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OK, it’s a grab bag of random thoughts today.

First of all, the other writers don’t get enough credit.  This site stated out as my baby, and in the early days I was writing 5-7+ articles every single week.  I can’t imagine how this was possible, but I made it happen.  Over the years, the number of regular writers has grown to the point where I write between one and three articles each week – much more manageable.  In addition to taking a big chunk of the load, the other writers also introduce unique perspectives.  A heartfelt thank you.

There’s a new car in Kosmo’s garage.  The first three car purchases I made were Ford Tauruses.  This time around, not only did we go outside the Ford family, but also with a foreign car maker.  The “new” car is a 2007 Hyundai Elantra with about about 66,000 miles on it.  It will be used primarily for for 70 mile round trip commute.  The previous owner stated that it would get 35 on long stretches of highway.  I can definitely believe that.  I mix in a bit of town driving and am getting in the 32-33 mpg range so far.

I’m still hoping to see more $99 HP Touchpads pop onto the market after seeing my order confirmed and then canceled.  However, in fairness, it sounds like I was only able to place an order in the first place because of a glitch with Barnes and Noble’s web site.

Hurricane Irene is going to be in the news all weekend, and she threatens the east coast.  I’m hoping for the best.  If you’re in the affected region, please stay safe and heed any warnings (or orders) to evacuate.  Many people are watching New York City, which has tremendous financial exposure to a hurricane.  Hopefully the storm will have weakened somewhat by the time it hits New York.

I haven’t been writing much new fiction for the site lately.  I do apologize for that, but if you find yourself in dire need of my stories, you can always grab a copy of Mountains, Meadows, and Chasms from Amazon (Kindle edition).  I do expect to get back to at least one story per month in the future.  Weekly stories may be a thing of the past, though.

One of the reasons why I haven’t been writing as many stories – or articles – lately is the sheer number of projects on my plate at the moment.  I’m engaged in a few activities that are actually producing revenue streams, and feel obliged to devote some time to those efforts, even though they aren’t as much fun as writing fiction.

Between the activite projects and the ones I’m trying to get off the ground, I could probably work full time on my writing for the next six months without needing anything new to work on.  However, the fact that I have a “real job” means squeezing these projects into a small chunk of free time.  I’ve just begun work on a series of novellas about an unconventional detective.  I plan to do a simultaneous launch with two of the novellas (on Kindle, naturally), hopefully around the end of the year.  I’ve also gotten a start on a rather interesting non-fiction book that is currently on the back burner.  Then, of course, is my full length serial killer novel, which I’ll find the time to finish … sometime.

E Pluribus Unum: History of American Imagery*

August 26, 2011

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*When I say “American” imagery, I’m referring to images beginning with the appearance of white Europeans on the continent. Native Americans have an incredibly rich and diverse history of image making, which I have not studied nearly enough to do justice to it.

Images were rare in early colonial America. Many of the settlers were religious refugees from Europe, where the more ostentatious religions of Catholicism and Anglicanism were intolerant of their austere beliefs. The Calvinists and Puritans that made up early white America took the biblical saying “cursed is the man who carves an image or casts an idol” [Deuteronomy 27:15] very seriously. Puritans often complained about the Catholic devotion to paintings and sculptures in their churches, which they considered to be idolatry. Protestants focused on the word of God, and their plain, clean-lined churches reflect this.

It is perhaps a little surprising, then, that some of the first images produced by colonial Americans are portraits of ministers. John Foster’s woodcut of Reverend Richard Mather from 1670 (the first portrait print in the colonies),

is typical of pre-eighteenth century images of preachers that would have appeared in books of sermons. Calvinists justified such images by regarding them as moral examples of faithfulness, meant to inspire such feelings in the readers. The importance of the word of God is emphasized by the presence of the Bible, which the Reverend Mather is engaged in reading (note the dainty glasses he holds in his right hand). One of the most important Protestant tenets was reading the Bible yourself to gain a personal understanding of God. John Foster was a member of Mather’s congregation, and would have been familiar with all these principles.

It is evident from looking at the Reverend Mather that Foster was not a trained artist. The woodcut is simple and somewhat blocky, lacking the finesse typical in woodcuts done in Europe by trained artists at the same time. This was typical well into the colonial period. Trained artists were not in high demand in the new settlements, and those who did produce images were typically copying the work of European artists. However, although the print is lacking in depth and realism, Foster paid a lot of attention to the details in the face, especially the kind expression in the eyes.

If Reverend Richard Mather’s portrait represents the birth of American images, his grandson Cotton Mather’s portrait by Peter Pelham in 1728,

represents how far American imagery had come in just over half a century. Cotton Mather was the son of Increase Mather, another preacher in the mold of his father, Richard Mather, and while their Calvinist religious beliefs were the same, their portraits are wildly dissimilar.

Peter Pelham was a well-known mezzotint engraver based in Boston. Trained in England, he brought European expertise to America, and was, in fact, the stepfather of America’s first native painter, John Singleton Copley. Mezzotint, which involved roughening the print plate with thousands of little dots made by a toothed metal tool, allows for a much greater variation of tone than woodcut, and Pelham’s expertise and training is clear in the great realism of the facial details and shading, and the delicate curls of Cotton Mather’s intriguing hair. Even the slight tonal changes in the background and Mather’s delicate beribboned bib speak to the advances made in American art in less than a century. Where Foster’s work was simplistic, austere, and geometric, Pelham’s piece is detailed, sophisticated, and evokes the best European work of the period.

In spirit, both works represent the Puritanical religious spirit that still envelopes the American colonies. Colonists prided themselves on their religious purity and austere lives, even as they began to thrive and become wealthy. This new wealth is evident in Cotton Mather’s elaborate outfit and hair, set against the much more modest attire of his grandfather. In the fifty years between the two portraits, American colonists began to value images more highly, recognizing them as an ideal medium for spreading values and ideas to a wide group of people, regardless of their literacy level. This democratic property of images allowed art to become more and more important to colonists as they began their struggle for independence.

Rick Perry Leads The Race?

August 25, 2011

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Move over Michele Bachmann, there is now a nutcase in the race with the proper chromosomes to be qualified to be President. Now before you get all hot and bothered by the sexism of me saying such a thing, that is certainly not how I feel. However, it must be how the Republican primary voters feel.

How else do you explain that in less than two weeks since officially jumping into the race that he is already the frontrunner and put good Ole Mittens and the crazy lady well behind in second and fourth place.

The new Gallup poll out today has Perry with 29 percent, Romney with 17, Ron Paul with 13 and Bachmann with just ten percent now in the polls.

There has been constant talk throughout this early stage in the process of the field not being complete or the voters being happy with their choices. Once Bachmann entered the race that quieted down a little bit, but despite running away with a meaningless straw poll vote in Iowa she never took over the lead in polling with the voters.

On the surface Bachmann and Perry appeal to the same audience of voters. Both are firebrands that say the red meat the tea party people want to hear, only one is male and one is female. So that has to be the reason for Perry’s surge to the front. It sure is not about his record as Governor of Texas, as I would say Dubya was a better Governor than him.

Speaking of which, if Perry were to get elected, I would for the first time answer yes to all those ‘Miss Me Yet?’ bumper stickers.

Don’t fret though you Bachmann crazies. You are bound to gather up the preference of those running behind you in the polls now and Perry could always mess things up and vault you back to the top.

One reason that could happen is the biggest difference other than gender between Perry and her. That reason being that she actually means and believes all the stupid and crazy shit that comes out of her mouth. Perry on the other hand, as evidenced by his responses to his own statements and writings in just the past year is already trying to change what he said, or that he meant this instead. If he does this too much the tea party people will start to see him as not much better than Mitt on that account and go back to supporting Bachmann. As genuine, sincere and honest craziness means much more to them, even if it is from a woman.

How Will The Resignation of Steve Jobs Affect Apple?

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On Wednesday, Apple announced that CEO Steve Jobs will be stepping down from that role.  Jobs has been battling health issues – including pancreatic cancer – for several years, so the move was not completely unexpected.

For most people, Steve Jobs IS Apple.  Co-founder Jobs was forced out of Apple during a 1985 power struggle with CEO John Sculley (whom Jobs had hired).  By 1997, Apple was in a death spiral and its stock was hovering around $13 per share.  At  the close of day yesterday, Apple’s stock has trading at $373.60.  That’s impressive enough – but there have been two stock splits since then, meaning that a single $13 share has turned into 4 current shares worth a total of $1494.40.  As a longtime fan of Apple products, it was great to see Jobs initiate such a dramatic turnaround.

The big question is how this will affect Apple long-term.  Will the company endure a  recurrence of Jobs withdrawal?  I think things will be different this time, and these are the reasons:

This separation is different – The separation in 1985 was far from amicable.  Jobs was essentially fired.  This is a very different situation, with Jobs continuing as chairman of the board, as well as an Apple employee in some capacity.  He’ll be around to mentor new CEO Tim Cook as needed.  Barring a dramatic downturn in his health, Jobs is not going to simply fade into the background – he’ll still represent Apple.

The company culture is different – When Jobs was forced out in 1985, Apple was a company with a lot of infighting.  The Apple II division and the Macintosh division considered themselves to be rivals, with the Macintosh division flying a pirate flag over their building.  There was no strong sense of direction.  In fact, the Apple IIe line was not discontinued in 1993 … nine years after the introduction of the Macintosh.  While I loved the IIe as a kid, the Mac was an exponentially superior product by the time 1993 rolled around.  At the time Jobs left, the company was just 9 years old – still not fully mature.

The company is more diversified – When Jobs took over in 1997, Apple basically offered just Macs.  Jobs streamlined the number of different Mac models (at the time, there were a large number of models being sold, creating confusion for customers).  Since then, Apple has branched out into new areas (iPod, iTunes, iPhones, iPad, etc).  This diversification makes the company less vulnerable to a downturn in a specific market.

In a nutshell, I expect Apple to continue to charge forward.  Tim Cook has been with Apple since 1998, had been serving as Chief Operating Officer, and was the man Jobs had hand-picked to succeed him.  I expect that Jobs will still be involved in a lot of design decisions, while distancing himself from the more “boring” types of work.

HP Touchpad: Chaos

August 24, 2011

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HP TouchPad

HP TouchPad (Photo credit: blogeee.net)

On July 1, 2010, Hewlett Packard finalized a deal to buy Palm for $1.2 billion. Palm was a relatively small company struggling to keep its footing in the smart device market – competing against behemoths like Apple and Google (Android). Finally, the financial resources of industry titan HP would allow the Palm OS to thrive. My buddy Lazy Man over at Lazy Man and Money is a longtime Palm enthusiast, so this was great news for him.

Exactly a year later, HP launched a tablet based on their mobile WebOS – the HP Touchpad.  The 16 GB (storage) model debuted at $499 and the 32 GB model at $599.  This would be the tablet that would threaten market leaders Apple (iPad) and Google (makers of the Android OS that power most non-iPad tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy).  Right?

Unfortunately, sales were lackluster.  While the Touchpad has nice integration with other WebOS devices, the fact of the matter is that there aren’t a lot of people with WebOS devices.  There were also other differentiation features – such as support for Adobe Flash (a technology that Apple steadfastly refuses to support on the iPad), but it wasn’t enough.  Faced with a TouchPad priced at the same level as an iPad or Android device, customers grabbed the Android or iPad.  A big reason for this was a lack of apps (although an emulator does allow the TouchPad to run many apps written for WebOS based phones).  While the iPad and Android devices might not have had a huge assortment of apps at launch, they do now.  HP was bringing an entry-level assortment of apps to the table while joining the race halfway through.

On August 18 – a mere 49 days after launch – HP announced that they would produce no more WebOS devices (although they will continues to develop the actual OS until they figure out what to do with it).

The next day, clearance prices were announced.  $99 for the 16 GB model and $149 for the 32 GB model.  People gasped – and raced to buy one.  What followed ended up being a huge debacle, with angry cutomers, crashed web sites, and orders cancelled hours or days after being made.  What went wrong:

What HP did wrong 

I really don’t understand HP’s logic.  Did they really underestimate the difficulty of competing with Apple and Google?  If so, that’s a pretty colossal failure.

Throwing in the towel after seven weeks on the market seems to suggest a minimal commitment to the effort.  Perhaps they could have included coupons good for $100 worth of TouchPad accessories from the HP store?  A lot of accessories are very high margin, so this would have looked great to customers without costing HP much.  Or perhaps they could have given new buyers a $100 credit toward the purchase of new apps.  Perhaps even a big discount on a wireless HP printer to use with the TouchPad (forcing people to buy ink cartridges – a nice revenue stream).  I came up with those three ideas while writing this paragraph – I’m sure HP’s marketing department could have come up with many more.

It seemed pretty obvious at the time of the price cut that they could have probably clearanced the devices at $200 and still sold all of them.  When  you drop down below $100, the device becomes a reasonable subsitute for a lot of other tech items.  Not only is it a cheap substitute for a laptop, but also a possible replacement for the 9.7″ Kindle DX ($379) at less the the price of the cheapest Kindle ($114).  Heck, you could even use it in place of a 10″ digital picture frame when not using the other features.  You essentially have a device with Swiss army knife type of flexibility, and it’s undercutting the single purposes devices that it could replace.

What the merchants did wrong

A lot of people placed orders, received confirmations, and they received a cancellation notice much later.  In my case, I received a cancellation order this morning, more than two full days after placing the order.  Needless to say, a lot of people were angry about this.  I wasn’t particulalry upset, because this seem to be a likely scenario based on what I was hearing from other people.

I’m not really sure what the issue was here.  Some sort of a failure regarding an inventory system, no doubt.  Barnes and Noble’s web site was perhaps in the brightest spotlight.  I saw a comment that Barnes and Noble’s inventory system is set up to handle books, which can always be re-ordered from the manufacturer.  That’s fine – as long as you only intend to sell books.  If you’re planning to sell items that can be discontinued, your system has to have a way to realize that zero stock means that you are completely out.  Sometimes zero means zero.

And maybe toss the affected customers a small gift – a $10 gift card, perhaps – for the inconvenience. 

What the customers did wrong

OK, I understand that you’re angry about stores being out of stock and orders being canceled, but tone down the venom just a wee bit.  It the case of brick and mortar stores, what exactly could you expect?  These stores had no way of know that there would be a mad rush to buy the TouchPads.  It’s not as if this was a planned promotion and the stores were able to stock up beforehand.  Some employees were probably very surprised to see Black Friday crowds in August.

I agree that the online merchants goofed up big time – but some of the rhetoric is out of place.

Then there’s the guy on eBay selling information.  For $99 he’d tell you where you could buy a TouchPad for $130.  No refunds if the information was out of date.  It seems fairly obvious that this was an attempt to trick people into thinking he was selling a $99 TouchPad.  The text of the listing clearly says what he’s selling, but a lot of people likely just saw “TouchPad – $99”.

Then, of course, the people re-selling for a huge profit.  The $99 item could be found online for $200, $300, $400, $500 – and in the case of one web site, $700.  I know people caught caught up in TouchPad mania, but these were devices that wouldn’t sell for $499 – now they are listed at $700?

What’s next?

HP has a waiting list, and you can sign up to be notified when more TouchPads are available.  It actually makes sense for HP to sell as many as possible through it’s site instead of other merchants, since this would keep 100% of the revenue in-house.  Will they?  I don’t know.  How many more devices will be available?  Again, no idea.

Where do we go from here?  Suddenly, HP has an installed base of excited tablet customer.  Do they retract their withdrawal from the market?  The 16 GB touchpad has a materials cost of around $300, so the $99 price point is not sustainable long term without some other sort of revenue stream.  Could HP siphon off enough revenue from a data plan and app store to make up the difference?  Could they save a few bucks by using cheaper parts?  They’d have to position themselves as a cheaper alternative to the iPad and Android devices – but maybe there’s a spot in the market for that.

Another point is that not only does HP have a lot of tablet customers, but they have a unique blend of customers.  They not only have the tech crowd, but also a big chunk of the general population who hadn’t previously considered a tablet.  I work in IT, but really hadn’t considered a tablet.  At $500, it’s a really expensive toy.  At $99, it’s not hard to justify the cost.  We don’t own a laptop, so it would have been convenient to connect a TouchPad to a hotel WiFi network while traveling.

Then, of course, WebOS itself.  Will HP find a way to license it?  Will they wring out a few dollars and sell it outright (I’ll bid $99)?  Or will they throw it over the wall to the open source community?  Making it open source is probably the best way to ensure that it will actually survive long term – open source labor (volunteers) is very cheap …

 

What are your thoughts regarding the TouchPad soap opera?

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2011 Fall TV – What Are YOU Looking Forward To?

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With the Fall TV lineup fast approaching, I figured (well, maybe Kosmo SUGGESTED) that I’d talk a little bit about what I’m looking forward to…and some changes we’ll see.

Changes? What changes? Well, at least one HUGE change. Ashton replaces Charlie on Two and a Half Men. Will the show ever be the same? Do you think it’ll be better, or worse? Personally, I don’t think it’ll ever be the same. Not that I’m a huge Charlie Sheen fan, or a fan at all. I just think that role couldn’t have been more perfect for him, based on his personal life (did the show make his personal life, or did his personal life make his role on the show?). And, once somebody plays a character on a sitcom for so long, it’s hard to imagine the show without said character. My favorite sitcom of all time, The King of Queens, could never have replaced Doug, Carrie, or Arthur. It just wouldn’t have been the same. And I get that Charlie will be “killed off” and isn’t just being “replaced”, but……I don’t know. I’ll give it a go, but my hopes are really really low.

My favorite new show from last year, Mike and Molly, will be making a triumphant return this fall, and could be one of the top rated sitcoms on TV. Like I said earlier, it’s difficult for me to like any show as much as I liked The King of Queens (TKOQ), but this one is fairly close. It does have a love story, but it’s more funny than anything and that’s what I like.

Speaking of a show close to TKOQ, The Big Bang Theory is extremely close. How funny can a group of nerds be? Very funny! If you haven’t given this show a chance, please do. I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed. Personally, I’m hoping for a Penny/Leonard reunion…..wonder what this season will bring?

Taking a break from comedies, my favorite non-comedy show has to be Criminal Minds (the original show, not this new Suspect Behavior nonsense). How the writers for this show can come up with so many crimes/storylines is beyond me, but they do. And they’re very good at it. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Suspect Behavior spinoff is a bad show, because personally I’ve only watched a few episodes. I just like the original Criminal Minds so much that I don’t feel like the “new” show can come close. Maybe I should expand my horizons….

Last, but certainly not least, FOOTBALL! I know, I know, it’s not a “show”, but it’s TV/entertainment. I can’t wait to spend every weekend from September to January watching nothing but football (I think the wife is as excited as I am….OK, maybe not). When the NFL lockout first started, I thought to myself, “you know what, these overpaid bums need to just play the GAME that they have the opportunity to play…..I’m not going to watch if they ever start playing again”. I was wrong! I’ve never been so excited for a season in my life. Do you think they planned the lockout on purpose, to give fans a sense of what they might not have, and when the lockout ends the fans are more excited than ever?!?! Conspiracy, I say…

Fan Violence in San Francisco

August 23, 2011

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For years fans in the United States would see highlights on soccer fans outbreaks across the globe. Mass riots, fires in the stands, and mobs were not uncommon. This seems to have moved to the West Coast of California where two exceedingly violent events have occurred in a very short relative time frame at sporting events.

Just this past week a huge fight broke out in the aftermath of an Oakland Raiders – San Francisco 49ers game. These fights escalated into two people being shot in the parking lot areas. The motives for the shootings are yet unknown, but may be gang related. One person who was shot was reportedly wearing a F— the Niners T Shirt. This person was shot 4 times in the stomach. A 2nd victim was also wounded in a separate incident.

Raider fans are to put it lightly – unusual to say the least. They dress up in studded leather, black paint, and look like a 23rd century version of a Capital One Commercial, except with a much more foul attitude.

The foul attitude may have somewhat led to recent fan violence.

The recent attacks come as the city still watches the progress of Giants fan Bryan Stow, who was brutally beaten in an altercation outside Dodger Stadium nearly five month ago.  Stow, who suffered brain damage, remains hospitalized in serious conditions as he continues down the road to recovery.  After months of police investigation, 28 year old Louie Sanchez and 30 year old Marin Norwood have been charged in the crime.  Both suspects have pleaded not guilty.

Living in the sheltered Midwest as I do, it is hard to imagine that fans are so rabid that they would take to shooting one another in a parking lot after a game. I also don’t foresee a lot of fans in Nebraska wearing shirts telling Michigan Fans to “F” off.

Here is hoping that the NFL, the local communities, and the authorities take harsh and swift action to deter from this sort of violence continuing in the future. Just another reason to live in the good ol’ Midwest.

Will the Raiders ever learn?

The Jamarcus Russell Experiment was a total flop so now they burn a 3rd round draft pick on Terrelle Prior. Prior shows up as a black sheep of the Ohio State Program who is still awaiting word on the final tally of what will come down on their program due to the “tattoo-gate” scandal. Players have left the program, coaches have been fired (call it what it is Jim Tressel..by the way I am still waiting for your apology.)

Pryor will have to sit out five games. He has always held an attitude in his own mind that he is better than the next guy and deserves special treatment. His above the law way of going about his business is a large reason he was prompted into the problems he was accused of at Ohio State, and a large reason why some college programs shied away from even recruiting him in the first place.

Well this should be no problem then for the Raiders who have rolled the dice on plenty of young and old players throughout the years. Some have worked out but more often than not they have been busts.

The Raiders are still run by the prehistoric dinosaur like creature known as Al Davis. Decades ago when the Raiders were a proud franchise and successful Davis was the figurehead and a key component to their Tradition of Excellence. Davis has always been active in the organization, and his coined “Just Win Baby!” has always been a popular battle cry of Raider Nation. Unfortunately this has not been heard a lot around those parts lately.

Until next time, stay classy Temecula, California (shout out to my buddy – Happy Birthday Smither!)

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