Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Elin Rønby Pedersen's design portfolio.)
Coverage at Groklaw. More Groklaw. There were irregularities in the jury's decision process, and this has already caused the judge to reduce the settlement, and may ultimately lead to its being set aside.
Perhaps more tomorrow.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
This is how I rank stores. Using a 1-5 scale, if a store does a basic good job, I give it a three. Extra-ordinary service or pricing rates a four, and both together rate five. Two means a serious deficiency in service or over-pricing. One means egregious price-gouging or deception: illegal or near-illegal activity.
Croak! [2011.12.06 An omitted pronoun added and a bit of grammatical cleanup done.]
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The aggregate data suggest that in 2010 the homeownership for most age groups was probably below 1990 rates! Last week’s report, then, was clearly the BIGGEST STORY ON US HOMEOWNERSHIP in many, many years. So … why the lack of media coverage?
So I suppose prices will drop below pre-depression levels, unless the large number of houses with clouded titles—thank you banksters—reduces availability sufficiently to create a shortage.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
The media is all agog with the planned purchase of T-Mobile’s US operation by last-wave carrier AT&T. The combined carrier would be a force to be reckoned with, and be in a much better position to pressure Apple and Google and consumers and terrify Sprint management. Meantime, Google and Sprint have quietly announced integration between Google Voice and Sprint Wireless.
Over time, we’ve worked to bring an integrated Google Voice experience to your mobile device by building mobile apps, introducing Google Voice Lite, and most recently Number Porting. But we felt that ultimately, the most simple solution would be to partner with carriers to seamlessly integrate Google Voice with your mobile phone. Today, we’d like to share that we’ve teamed up with Sprint to do just that. (link)Sprint:
OVERLAND PARK, Kan., March 21, 2011 – Sprint (NYSE: S) and Google announced today a new integrated Google Voice™ experience that will allow Sprint customers to set their existing Sprint wireless phone number as their Google Voice number. Sprint customers will be able to take advantage of all the features and benefits of Google Voice without the hassle and fees associated with porting their number. Sprint is the first and only carrier to offer this capability, which will be available soon on all Sprint CDMA phones. (link)
I’m still thinking over the implications. Google has long wanted access to the wireless telecommunications market, but the history, business practices, and regulatory clout of the major carriers have limited their ambition. With this deal with the relatively smaller carrier Sprint may have given Google their in, much as AT&T gave Apple their in. Sprint has an excellent wireless data network, second, so far as this bird can tell, only to Verizon, and Google gets to distribute its services–and advertising–through that network. Sprint, of course, gets the support of one of the largest and most successful internet firms. If Google acquired Sprint the deal would be subject to careful anti-trust scrutiny but, so far as I can tell, there is no anti-trust issue here: neither Google Voice nor Sprint is a large enough service to create a combined monopoly, or even much of a market force: this deal is made in the hope of growth, rather than to purchase market share. On the other hand, there is a clash of corporate cultures. Google takes as its motto, “Don’t be evil.” Sprint, on the other hand, provides notoriously poor customer service, apparently by policy. How this will play out in the marketplace is hard to imagine: Google does not take kindly to brand dilution and Sprint is not likely to deal well with requests from Google to provide better service to Google Voice users.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Facebook is like the fluffy bunny who wants everyone to just be friends and keeps trying to connect your political activist friends to your business associates. She may mean well, but she can sure make your life difficult. She also keeps her own business secret and makes quite a business of selling gossip, so she may be mercenary and malicious rather than fluff-headed.
As for us corvids…
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
What are we to do in deflationary times, when the banking system is unreliable? Not only the banking system, mind: every major business we depend on has turned toxic—there are few honest deals from cell phone companies or airlines. There is no complete answer, no substitute for a reliable financial system and I see no indication we are going to have one in less than ten years. So what do we do instead? Gift and barter, I think. Be liberal with our friends. It has never been easier to manufacture small runs of a design. So we can trade products and services.
This is far from ideal. The great value of a neutral medium of exchange—money—is that there is no problem trading machine tools for money, and then buying food with the money. This is much harder in a barter-and-gift economy: a series of trades must be arranged, and there are no banks to buffer breaks in the chains of trade and gift, or lend money short-term, to tide a trader over delays in exchange. Computer brokerages perhaps can help, but one then depends on the honesty of the brokers and the design of the system, and there is no law, yet, that acts to protect participants: caveat emptor, caveat vendor, caveat argentarior. But what else is there to do? Anything that can be corrupted by the financial system very likely will be.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
- Don't hold debt. Most salaries will not rise in this period; we will not be in a better position to pay down debt in the future.
- In general, debt securities are preferable to equities in deflationary times, however this only applies if the debt securities are trustworthy--hard to judge in the current regulatory and financial reporting regime. There is something to be said for a savings account, or even cash in an actual safe, though the safe carries a risk of burglary.
- Most property is likely to fall in value in this period.
- Speculation will at times raise the prices of some valuables like jewels and precious metals through this period, however this is not something to be relied on; even speculators can run short of cash.
- Bartering personal services in this period is a way to conserve cash. So is making things for oneself or trade--but watch the cost of supplies! A new craft economy is likely to emerge in the lower and middle classes. If one have tradeable skills, polishing them has a good chance of paying off; if one does not, this might be a good time to start learning them. Buy tools as needed, rather than in advance; chances are they will cost less in the future.
- Ian Welsh reminds me that we are seeing inflation in some products and services of interest to the very wealthy. He points out that there has been an explosion in purchases of personal jets and rentals of super-expensive hotel rooms in the past 15 years, and I have seen a recently-constructed 120-foot (36.5m) luxury yacht. It may be possible to make gains operating such businesses, or investing in them.
- What will the rate of deflation be? How long the is deflation likely to persist? I find it hard to believe it will go on for more than two years, but that could be fear and intellectual rigidity rather than reason speaking.
- It seems to me likely that the Chinese central bank is going to "take away the punchbowl," in William McChesney Martin's famous saying, now that they've got the party going, by allowing the renminbi to rise against the dollar in the next few years. Some products we have come to depend on will then become more expensive. This to some extent militates against my advice to save above: in some areas (electronics?), it may be worthwhile buying what you need against this possibility. Information processing technology is now a key manufacturing technology, and the majority of integrated circuits and flat-panel displays are made in China.
- There are probably other impacts of global markets likely.
- The health care mandates will make it much harder for many people to save. It is probably best to do as much saving as possible before they kick in in 2014.
- Climate change is making itself felt economically in a large way; we are already seeing climate-change based migration.