Monday, August 30, 2010

US Airways Annoys Me

US Airways | Airline tickets, vacations & business flights

1. They make it difficult to find where to login using your email address or user name. They want you to use flight information or your frequent flier number, neither of which I have memorized meaning I have to look them up.

2. The site moves at the speed of dark and was occasionally non responsive to clicks.

3. Fees paid for checked baggage are non-refundable. Come on, at least give me some credit if I don't check the bag.

4. The put adds on the boarding passes wasting my ink or links I can't even click from a piece of paper and that I am unlikely to click on from a browser popup as I prepare to print.

Airlines are just getting more short sighted and greedy.

jConnect - Fax and Voicemail by Email

jConnect - Fax and Voicemail by Email

This company sucks! They own but independently market, myfax, efax, rapidfax, trustfax, and likely more. Clearly their strategy is to occupy the first page of Google's search output so that a comparison shopper who calls 3 alternatives off of the first page thinks that 10 cents/page is the market rate. This happened to me, but I found if fishy. The secret was divulged when several told me that their Onebox service was my only alternative if receiving over 2000 pages/month. I'm sure this monopolization of first page search results is not unique to fax services, so beware.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

UWCs can management and workers cooperate?

Last night I listened to this episode of This American Life, title NUMMI, that explains why GM failed because they did not build reliable cars.  Combative relations between labor and management combined with the entrench interests of labor and management prevented necessary change for decades despite GM having co-owned and manged a US based plant with Toyota that produced reliable cars.  To me, as more of a management type, the interview with one of the union workers was revealing.

"They would even keep track of stuff they'd missed, because that's what the company puts in the, that the only way you could protect  you job is to keep the team strong, so there's a week link you have to get rid of that week link.  So I'd go tell them 'You can't do that.  You can't build up a case for management against your union member.  Made me angry and disappointed that the union had gone so backwards that they forgot what a union meant--taking care of each other.'

What does/must he think?  Either jobs are secure regardless of the quality of output or that there is relatively little difference between one member or all members loosing their jobs.  It is as though he thinks that there is a fixed amount of profit to be split between management and labor and that the quality of output does not impact the size of the pie to split.  Oddly, for the career duration of many union members he was right.  It took 50 years for GM to fail.  Maybe he seemingly odd believe were optimal for members with high enough discount rates.  Keep in mind that GM would have survived longer if not for 2008's deep recession and recent high oil prices that killed sales of SUV's, GM's most profitable products.

He seemed far crazier before I analyzed his personal incentives.  Now, his us versus them attitude make sense, especially for him.  When his pension is considered the logic becomes far more questionable.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Replay? Let's Be Honest: Microsoft's Mobile Business Is A Fantasy

Let's Be Honest: Microsoft's Mobile Business Is A Fantasy

I might recall other times when MS came from behind to dominate. The entire Office suite and Internet explorer are two. MS SQL is improving quickly and can handle most businesses, such as United Airlines for less than Oracle. Yes, these are desktop/server side solutions. Also, MS does not control the OS in mobile so they do not have an easy marketing advantage by bundling it. But, most businesses use Office for productivity, Exchange Server for email, and trust MS with their infrastructure. Despite MS's attempt to go social with Phone 7, I think there best chance of penetration is in providing desktop to mobile productivity integration. Cloud drive is ready to sync it all. I use Google docs all the time for simple text collaboration, but for a sophisticated documents don't even think about it competing with Word, and it won't for a while. Versus Excel, don't even think about it for large complicated sheets. And $15 is really irrelevant. If apple can charge a premium for flash (pun intended) then MS can for productivity. Don't count them out. Blackberry, beware. The social has to be cover to make Phone 7 appear up with the times, but the real advantage is integration with the tools business runs on.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Case Shiller National Home Price Index, Inflation Adjusted - Chart

Case Shiller National Home Price Index, Inflation Adjusted - Chart

Sustainable increase? NOT!
At least we're in the ball part, but looks more likely to revert further to the mean rather than increase.

Who are you rooting for? BBC News - Rampaging bull injures 40 in Spanish arena

BBC News - Rampaging bull injures 40 in Spanish arena

No, I don't want people to get hurt.

UWC is messing with a bull fun and exciting?
Is real risk necessary?

One test is whether bull fighting video games have done well. This is the only one I found.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

To Bomb or not to Bomb: What is Israel"s optimal strategy?

I suggest that an "Israeli Rogue" is sent to blow it up. Israel gets the plat eradicated with plausible deniability. Maybe the French will fall for it. Russia won't mind so long as Iran orders another. There probably are more hidden underground. This one is likely a decoy. How funny blow it up only to find it was made of Lego.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

UWC will this work: Marginal Revolution: Assorted links

Marginal Revolution: Assorted links

Original article

I find the promise disingenuous. There has to be a limit, otherwise am employee might simply not come back but continue collecting a paycheck for life.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Marginal Revolution: Very difficult BASKETBALL question

Marginal Revolution: Very difficult questions

Points scored is the most overrated; steals are likely second, because of the risks required to get a steal and the absence of a "blown defense" statistic.

Shooting percentage, rebounding, and assists are underrated because they correlate with control, hustle, and smarts all of which have positive untracked impact.

The efficiency per minute ranking is pretty good. I also like the plus minus points per 48 minutes. One I think should be used but I have not seen is points per net possession.

A good metric, though not tracking defense well, is:
When a player goes to the free thrown line counts as a shot, because doing so usually leads to loss of possession (hence the "hack a Shaq" strategy). One could improve the accuracy by differentiating between offensive and defensive rebounds, because the probability that a teammate gets an offensive board is far less than the probability that a teammate gets a defensive board, making each offensive board more valuable. Also, shots missed when the player receives the ball with little time on the shot or game clock might be removed to not penalize players for getting stuck with it. Kobe might for example be a last resort and thus takes most last second shots because it is simply better than any alternative at that point, despite the time crunch likely not being his fault.

It is hard to track defense because steals is the only statistic. How does one keep track of when a player is slow to rotate and provides an extra half second increasing the three point shooter's percentage?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Way Wrong: Jack Jolis: The Truth About Blood Diamonds -

Jack Jolis: The Truth About Blood Diamonds - "The parallel occurrences of diamonds and internecine mayhem in Africa are in no way causative—certainly no more than by any other commercial commodity found in the continent. When was the last time we heard of 'blood manganese,' or 'blood copper,' or, for that matter, 'blood bananas' or 'blood cut flowers'?"

Diamonds are special. Easily transportable, virtually indestructible diamonds can be produced with unskilled labor, little capital, little need for planning, no post find processing, and know distribution channels. They are also essentially untraceable or very expensive to trace which makes diamonds a near perfect product with which to fund conflicts. Non of the other products mentioned have all these characteristics. How can such incorrect statements get past the editors at the WSJ.

Possibly the most incorrect article ever on Social Security


I hardly know where to start, but this conclusion sums it up.

"The trust fund may not last forever, but reports of its demise are certainly premature. The trustees say it will be drawn down to zero in 2037, at which point the program will only have enough money coming in from taxes to pay 78% of the benefits due under current law. So sometime in the next quarter-century — but by no means right now — does anything have to be fixed, say through a hike in the payroll tax ceiling (or, better, its elimination)?"

I would appreciate an estimate of how much taxes would have to immediately in 2038 to continue making all payments with no fund remaining.

Please suggest your favorite lines, with analysis.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

UWC will you wear red?

Why women are attracted to a man dressed in red | Mail Online

It gets interesting when one considers common knowledge of the phenomenon.

If all women know that all men know that women are attracted to red, then do women treat men who are wearing red like horny devils?

Can women control the primal urges instigated by red? If not then men should wear red regardless of what women know.

If women can control their urges if they know the man is wearing red just to attract them, is a man's best strategy to wear stealth red that women's subconscious will recognize but the women will not consciously process and accordingly not compensate by treating a man like the "horny devils that wear red?"

If women know horny devils wear red, and they are looking for a horny devil, then wearing red is a low risk way (ego-wise) of attracting women who are ready for action.

Does red attract men to women, men to men, and/or women to women?

When will you wear red?  


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Marginal Revolution: The second strangest headline I read today

Marginal Revolution: The second strangest headline I read today

My favorite quote.

"If we start mixing with Chinese, they will slowly swallow us up. Mongolian society is not very rich. Foreigners come with a lot of money and might start taking our women."

When men lose their likelihood of reproduction they try to do so by any means necessary. Some even sign-up to blow-up in hope of a boat load of virgins.

How to achieve parity in the NBA?

The salary cap is designed in part to create league parity, but now that many of the best players have acquired sufficient wealth that additional dollars hardly matter, the stars are clumping together in quests for the ring.  Assuming the league desires parity, what rules will help?  Might players be forced to accept the highest paying contract regardless of location?  For example, a player submits a desire for X years and team offer $Y in a standardized contract.  The highest bidding team gets the player.  The best players who are beyond financial worries will resist because the loose autonomy as will the role players willing to sacrifice income for a ring.  The team without winning legacies (to the extent legacies attract players) will be in favor.  Thoughts?

Sorry--Google drops Google Wave - Computerworld

Google drops Google Wave - Computerworld

I was on the waiting list, tried to use it for a couple of days, and said forget it as did most other people.

Suggestion: Integrate Wave into gmail as a new form of conversation allowing one to keep running conversations with gmail contacts. Allow listing of Wave among gmail conversations with easy filtering, thereby eliminating the need for having another window open and learning message management interface. I am surprise Google did not do this when they have been so good at creating near zero learning curve prior to benefit applications such as their calendar, docs, and voice programs (though voice could be better integrated into gmail). My guess is "integrating" the the Wave technology into other services will do exactly what I suggest.  Fr

I followed up with a question about Buzz — Google’s other recently launched social tool. “The Buzz team is doing very well,” Schmidt said. But he noted that “we tend to lump Buzz into the Gmail success.” When I asked if Google considered attaching Wave with Gmail as well to bolster it, Schmidt replied that “there were a number of such ideas, yes.”  From TechCruch

Bad Government: Ethics Committee does not even recommend Rangel say, "Sorry"

Obama: It's the end for Rangel -
"'The recommendation that we have is a reprimand,' Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) told reporters. A reprimand would have to be approved by the full House ethics committee and then the House itself. The light admonishment falls short of censure or expulsion from Congress and doesn't even require an apology."

Hilarious! Such disciplinarians. I suggest the IRS treat him like a standard tax cheating citizen with audits, fines, and potentially jail time. I am not a huge fan of the IRS, but when the victim is the former head tax man in a sense, I'll make an exception.

Marginal Revolution Comment: Why does anyone support private macroeconomic forecasts?

Marginal Revolution: Why does anyone support private macroeconomic forecasts?

My financial services industry experience indicates that macroeconomic/stock market forecasts are to (1) create a sense of thought leadership and seriousness and (2) calm the sales people and clients by saying "Everything will be OK. We know what is happening and have it all under control."

I agree that there is no reason for firms to believe that their economist is better than any cheaper alternative, that growth will match last quarter, or a very simple model such as growth will revert half way to the mean of the previous 5 years.

Bad Government: Shooting fish in a barrel edition--Iran

Is there a poll querying what percent of Iranians, Americans, French, Japanese, believe the Iranian government?

Grenade or fire cracker?

That's a tough one. NOT!

Misleading title: EC chooses iPhone, HTC over BlackBerry | Wireless - CNET News

How about a better title?  "Blackberry Security Upsets Governments that Can't Snoop Data."

That'll sell some phones!  My decision of whether to go Android or Blackberry just took a shock, but will it be enough.  I use gmail, google voice, and google calendar; Android is thus tough to beat.

Thirty US billionaires pledge to give away half their fortunes to charity

Could be good, so long as it doesn't reduce the capital available for startups. I have no idea whether this will have any impact. My guess is no impact.

I think one of the most efficient forms of charity might be for owners of private companies to charge below profit maximizing prices on products, especially to the people who cannot afford more. For example, if Michael Dell tool Dell private and then provided laptops at marginal cost to kids in developing countries.

The concept of entrepreneurs expanding the objective of private companies (no fiduciary duty to shareholders) beyond profit maximization to doing great things intrigues me. I am not arguing for any form of government intervention that would kill the psychic pleasure of entrepreneurs such as me. If I had enough money where the marginal value of wealth was primarily status, then a more fulfilling status game might be how much good one can do. Another example is Mars sourcing ingredients from less convenient and possibly more expensive locals. Yes, I understand the concept of comparative advantage, but development of new sources might be a public good that is under-supplied. Again, just an idea.