Archive for June 2005

Meet my missing twin

June 27, 2005

I have been starting to read more and more marketing blogs. Today I read Shark Attack on Seth Godin’s blog, and it just sounds like I wrote it. Actually, it’s better than what I could write, because Seth makes a brilliant leap towards the end about how you can’t sell something that rails against worldview. Put another way, if people don’t believe they need something, they aren’t going to buy it, even if they really do need it.

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Argh, trackback spam!

June 24, 2005

I just discovered that my little blog has been hijacked by comment and trackback spam. I just wasted a lot of time cleaning up the old comments. Looks like I’m going to need to upgrade to newer blogging software that does a better job of intercepting these entries. In the meantime, I’m temporarily turning off comments. The joys of being a personal sysadmin!

Marketing gone very, very wrong

June 22, 2005

Giant Popsicle Melts, Floods New York Park

Convenience fees

June 20, 2005

In one of my first blog entries, I wrote about the general lie when companies tell you they are reducing some service “for your convenience”. So-called internet “convenience fees” are some of the worst examples. Companies charge you for the privilege of typing information on a website, displaying a PDF, and allowing you to print the receipt on your own printer. In other words, you pay and the vendor saves on paper, postage, and labor. Even if you consider the fixed costs of developing the website, the vendor would eventually profit from the more efficient website. But adding a “convenience fee” to use the website is galling.

Fie on companies like ticket brokers who charge extra for printing tickets on your own computer. At least the California Department of Motor Vehicles got it right — there is no surcharge for paying your vehicle registration online.

Why I don’t care for movies anymore

June 18, 2005

I just finished watching The Terminal. What a disappointment.

On a business trip in Europe last fall, I picked up a book called The Terminal Man, the true story of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, also known as “Sir Alfred”. The book is a fascinating story of an odd man in strange circumstances. I could not put the book down. Neither could my wife.

The movie is loosely (very loosely) based on the real-life story of Sir Alfred. Supposedly, Spielberg paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Sir Alfred for the movie rights. But art poorly imitates life. In the book, Nasseri is on a quest to return to England and find his mother. In the movie, the character is a bumbling tourist looking for an autograph. In the book, Sir Alfred is helped by the airport doctor and by a noted French human rights attorney. In the movie, Tom Hanks is helped out by a bunch of misfit airport workers. I could go on, but you get the point.

It is sad that Hollywood settles for such pabulum. And also sad that Terminal Man is not in print in the US. (Looks like Powell’s in Portland has a copy — hurry and get one now!).

(P.S. A few months ago, I decided to check out Sir Alfred on the Boutiquaire level of CDG 1. He’s still there, and was even weirder than I expected).

iPod only an American icon?

June 16, 2005

Riding the metro in Paris last week, it seemed like everyone had a portable mp3 player. But very few were iPods. Most seemed to be generic flash mp3 players, with an LCD screen.

This was particularly odd to me, since Apple has something like 70% of the market share of portable mp3 players in the USA. Is the lack of an LCD screen the achilles’ heel of the iPod shuffle? My friend Ed cited that as the only reason why he didn’t buy one. It was also the main reason why I got an iPod mini instead of the shuffle. Of course, now that I have one, I’m very content with the mini myself.