Tag: stupidity

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I Buried My PixelBook Ambitions at Google Store

I would like to thank Google for saving me thousands of dollars in needless spending. Near the end of today’s gangbuster hardware event, I was ready to order two new Chromebooks and smartphones, one each for me and my wife. But “error 500” pages on the company’s store website and long-lead new product availability dates prompted me to cancel the one order successfully made and to delete the others in process from my shopping cart.

For a company whose product managers droned on this morning about all the reasons why artificial intelligence is so right, Big G got the store selling experience all wrong. I have waited through most of 2017 for a new Google-branded Chrome OS laptop. While hardly a fresh hardware design concept, PixelBook is nevertheless tempting enough to bring me back to the AI and voice-assistant contextual future from the Apple rotting on the overly-obsessed touch-UI tree. I was willing and ready but instead walked away angry. 

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I Got to Giggle About Gaggles

Sometimes I can only laugh at the strangeness of Internet domain trading and squatting. In August 2015, I registered, for two years, the dot net, org, and xyz extensions for gaggles. The com was taken. I grabbed gaggles to create an email address for people to contact me to support my then-in-progress exposé about Google. With the sound geese make in mind, I sniped at the search entity’s new parent company and alphabet.xyz domain.

Last month, I let all three expire. I own too many domains that are too costly to keep for the value they give: None. Had gaggles.com been mine, though, I would hold them all. More renewals are passing by, or have gone. Meanwhile, I got to giggle about gaggles, because someone else snatched up the dot net and would like me to buy it back. Eh, seriously? 

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Seriously, Verizon?

I should have known better. Once burned is supposed to be twice as wary. Right? Disgruntled by pricing and other policies, in autumn 2015, I took my family from Verizon Wireless to T-Mobile, which cut our monthly bill by more than one-third. But in May of this year we made the trek back in part because data speed is so much faster from my apartment than it is with Magenta. Better Red than dead, eh? Wrong. Oh, dumbass me. Un-carrier’s aggressive pricing, and Verizon’s first-ever quarterly loss of post-paid subscribers, compelled the nation’s largest carrier to respond—by, starting in February, to offer comparable unlimited plan that for my family of five lines would cost just $20 more a month while delivering superior, speedy service. But what Red gave, it now takes away. I regret the decision.

Today’s unlimited cellular service plan changes suck some of the most important value from all that extra bandwidth. What good is having something you can’t use? Henceforth, Verizon will offer two consumer options—one (Go Unlimited) that throttles streaming video to 480p on smartphones and costlier option Beyond Unlimited that reduces quality to 720p. Go is essentially priced the same as the older unlimited plan, and it takes away even more: Tethering (e.g. Mobile Hotspot) is capped at 600kbps. There’s no 4G LTE for you, baby! 

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Fly the Unfriendly Skies

Spanning most of my career, whether working as analyst or journalist, I have repeatedly railed against how U.S. law treats businesses—essentially as people. Reason: Moral dichotomy, where the ethical priorities of publicly-traded companies vastly differ from—and often contradict with—values of the people founding, running, or working for them. Keyword is value, where one usage refers to beliefs and another to money; meaning stock price and proceeds returned to shareholders.

My first, best articulation of this concept came during an April 2006 radio interview—I believe for NPR marketplace—when discussing major U.S. search providers Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo censoring results in China, at the government’s insistence. Behind the action there loomed censorship’s morality, such as restricting search terms like “democracy”. I expressed that there is no moral high ground in business. The high ground is quagmire, because all public companies share a single, moral objective: Make profits for stockholders. Plain, pure, and simple. Sadly, that moral agenda explains why United Airline’s PR week from Hell is Heaven for shareholders. Overbooking means the carrier fills seats; operations are lean and mean (quite literally, the latter). 

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Let the Bears Eat Bear Stearns

I agree with Gretchen Morgenson, writing for the New York Times. The Fed shouldn’t bail out Bear Stearns. The fed crossed a line by keeping afloat a major architect of the housing debacle.

I wrote my first blog post about the housing bubble in August 2005, a year after deciding not to buy a home in the Washington, DC suburb of Bowie. It was already clear to me in summer 2004 that something akin to a repeat of the dot-com bubble was taking place in the housing market.

Had we bought in 2004, we would likely hold a mortgage that exceeds the house’s reduced value. We could never have moved to San Diego. 

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Scoble Scrapes Friends’ Trust

Robert Scoble has been the talk of the Web today, for getting booted from Facebook. Robert is back on Facebook now, but he shouldn’t be. Facebook suspended the former Microsoft evangelist blogger for a terms-of-service violation. He used a testing Plaxo tool to mine, or “scrape,” information from about 5,000 of his contacts. [Editor’s note, April 4, 2017: Three Scobelizer posts gone; links removed.] 

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LOL, The 20-Hour Work Week

When reading that Gartner predicted the end of the 40-hour work, I assumed more hours. Not the case. The analyst firm proclaims the 20-year work week will come by 2015. Say that again?

“As the need to employ skilled staff from demographics unable or unwilling to work 40 hours a week increases, Gartner believes the ’20-hour-per-week job description’ will emerge—a role that can be successfully accomplished in half the normal time…Rather than a draconian measure to halve the working hours of all employees, the 20-hour job description, as suggested by Gartner, is an approach to help increase an organisation’s ability to attract and retain skilled and highly qualified workers”. 

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License, Stupidity, or Politics?

It is nitpicking time for the bone pickers. Last night, the DVR recorded the pilot episode of “Bones,” which was telecast for no reason I can guess; it’s an old episode. I hadn’t seen the first, which shocked from the opening sequence. Anyone from Washington should know that the airport above couldn’t possibly be Dulles. The identified airport isn’t in Washington but Virginia—in, duh, Dulles—and absolutely nowhere close to the U.S. Capitol. About 30 miles distance separates runways and the domed government building.

The view above would fit for Reagan National Airport. No doubt it is that airport. So, why does “Bones” kick off with such a glaring mistake? I make a big deal out of this for two reasons: The show is all about brainiac forensic anthropologists who live and breathe minute details; the setting is Washington, D.C. For either or both reasons, “Bones” should get the airport right. 

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Hybrid Cars are a Bad Idea

I philosophically oppose the concept of hybrid cars. The hybrid is a feel-good response to concerns about the environment that doesn’t go near as far as needed. For other folks, hybrid auto is a no-conscience purchase; it’s about saving money on gasoline. Mother Nature deserves better than these gas guzzlers and air polluters.

How about those natural gas vehicles, like the Metro buses moving around Washington, or ethanol-powered alternatives? They’re no better choices than hybrids. All these vehicles are bad for the environment and in their wickedness preserve an oil-based infrastructure and economy that long ago surpassed any meaningful usefulness. 

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Painful Changes

My blog relocation has turned out to be quite an exhilarating experience. On Saturday, I managed to delete all the content and my Movable Type export file. Everything was lost! Oh, it’s a harrowing tale.

Some background: I made the move on Wednesday to pmachinehosting, which a few days later changed its name to EngineHosting. I also moved from Movable Type to ExpressionEngine. I lacked two things: A new design and fix to a troublesome problem, that ExpressionEngine inserted index.php/comments in the path of posts (e.g., http://www.joewicox.com/index.php/comments/painful_changes.