tymshft

There is nothing new under the sun…turn, turn, turn

Archive for the category “music”

What goes around comes around – the record industry

I have previously observed that the supermarket chains who are complaining about Walmart aren’t entirely guiltless, since the supermarkets wiped out a whole bunch of markets back in the day. But the evolution of business is not limited to the grocery industry.

On Saturday, May 30, the band Berlin performed at Rhino Records in Claremont, California, and David Allen was there. He recorded the following comment by Berlin’s Terri Nunn:

“Can I tell you how great it is to be in a record store?”

Nunn’s love of record stores isn’t just because of her career as a recording artist. As Allen notes, quoting Nunn:

Her parents owned a small record shop in Reseda in the early 1970s “until Tower and Wherehouse killed us off.”

Now I’ll admit that I participated in that killing – I’d take the bus to the Tower Records on SE 82nd St. in Portland when I could, and I’d drop in to Wherehouse and other chains after moving to California. But those who didn’t like the chains are having the last laugh today, since Tower Records and Wherehouse Music are long gone.

The Virgin Megastore chain, however, is still thriving – in the Middle East.

Virgin Megastore has been a high street icon everywhere from Times Square in New York to Sydney, Australia since Richard Branson opened the first music store on Oxford Street in London in 1976.

You can buy CDs, DVDs, games, books, apparel and electronics from Virgin music and entertainment stores in the Middle East and Gulf countries:

• visit Virgin Megastore in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE

However, times they are a-changin’, and sad but true – Virgin Megastores are no longer open in the UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, US, Canada, Australia and Japan.

Old singers never die – they just surround themselves with younger people. Or do they?

In May 2011, I wrote a “tymshft” post in my Empoprise-MU music blog, comparing Focus’ original version of the song “Hocus Pocus” with a subsequent bluegrass version by the Cleverlys.

I haven’t listened to the Cleverlys version in a while, but I’ve recently had occasion to listen to Focus’ version – both the Midnight Special version that I shared in 2011, and some more recent versions that I found on YouTube.

There are, of course, a multitude of differences between old and new performances of “Hocus Pocus.” But the biggest one is that Thijs van Leer, who sang the entire thing back in the 1970s, now only sings portions of the song. Some other guy – apparently younger – is drafted to hit the really high notes. (You notice this with other older artists, who often perform with musicians young enough to be their kids.)

Is this just a problem with age, where old singers just can’t sing like they used to? According to Jeannie Deva, the answer is no. It is possible for an older person to maintain, and even improve on, his or her singing capability. However, there are certain things that can cause a voice to deteriorate.

Singing with poor or no vocal technique
No or inadequate vocal warm-up or vocal cool-down
Drugs (legal and illegal)
Regular and excessive alcohol consumption
The accumulated effect of cigarette smoking
Performing with deficient or no monitors
The wrong microphone
Shouting over your instrumentalists’ stage volume
Emotional stress
Physical deterioration from poor nutrition or sleep
Psychosomatic illness occasioned by emotional hardships, losses and upsets

Drugs, alcohol, smoking, stress, lack of sleep – I guess those have been known to occur to rock singers.

Things I wrote thirty-one years ago are still preserved – for now

I am less than a month from the ten-year anniversary of my blogging career. I haven’t really said anything about it much yet, but a recent Louis Gray post has caused me to start thinking about it.

Gray’s post is entitled “Our Fragile Web of Dead Domains and Lapsing Links.” Anyone who has been blogging for a while has encountered this – and if you haven’t, Gray explains the problem:

[I]t’s not too uncommon for entire sites and bookmarks to vanish from the Web, with only Archive.org and other clever cachers left to tell the tale.

For additional thoughts and some examples, read Gray’s post.

With very few exceptions (this tymshft blog being one of them), all of the blogs that I have created have been on the Blogger platform – originally an independent platform, later hosted by Google. But what happens if, someday, Google goes away? Don’t laugh – it could happen. No one thought Montgomery Ward would disappear, so it’s quite possible that my grandchildren will have never heard of Google.

Well, if Google were to disappear, then my very first blog post, written on Tuesday, October 14, 2003, could be lost forever. Since WordPress is not part of Google – yet – I’m going to employ a little bit of redundancy by reposting my first blog post, in its entirety, right here.

Why did synthetica start with fake bluegrass sounds? Why not? This is the Ontario Empoblog, or the blog for Ontario Emperor, which has nothing and everything to do with Canada, New Mexico, and Texas, but also California, which is a location in California. It exists in cyberspace, which is also synthetic.

The Ontario Empoblog may or may not touch on a variety of subjects, including music, poetry, poker, the supposed familial relationship between Brian Eno and Slim Whitman, the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop (1,121 – I checked), various comments about frogs, and the nature of nature.

Imagine the tragedy if this cultural artifact were to disappear forever. Luckily, I’ve preserved it. Unfortunately, I haven’t preserved the significance about comments about frogs.

For the record, my second post (written ten days later, on October 24) was better:

When Patti Smith married Fred Smith, did she take her husband’s last name, or keep her maiden name?

Which brings me to the topic of something else salted away in Google’s servers – something much older.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I was an early participant in Usenet back in the early 1980s. Back then, you’d get onto Usenet by typing such in a terminal that was attached to a minicomputer (in my case, a DEC PDP/11-70). Over a decade later, people would access Usenet via a service called Dejanews. Google eventually bought Dejanews and its data, and merged it all into Google Groups.

On January 3, 2012, I wrote a post in my Empoprise-BI business blog called (empo-tymshft) A little more on Usenet. As you can probably tell from the title, this was a “tymshft” post that was written before the tymshft blog came into existence. That post quoted from something that I wrote back on Noember 14, 1982 – almost thirty-one years ago. I accessed this text from going to the link https://groups.google.com/group/net.records/msg/f726733bb7eea278?dmode=source&output=gplain&noredirect – a Google Groups link to something from the old Dejanews archive that came from archives of Usenet postings. Again, if Google goes away, perhaps my 2012 blog post AND the Google Groups archive of the 1982 Usenet post may go away. So again, I’m going to preserve this important historical artifact here on WordPress:

Message-ID:
Newsgroups: net.records
Path: utzoo!decvax!cca!hplabs!hao!menlo70!sytek!zehntel!teklabs!reed!bred@sri-unix
X-Path: utzoo!decvax!cca!hplabs!hao!menlo70!sytek!zehntel!teklabs!reed!bred@sri-unix
From: bred@sri-unix
Date: Thu Nov 18 10:19:00 1982
Subject: Wall of Voodoo album
Posted: Sun Nov 14 23:46:25 1982
Received: Thu Nov 18 10:19:00 1982

Just bought Wall of Voodoo’s latest album “Call of the West”
(I.R.S.) a few weeks ago. The group uses synthesizers, etc.
while still maintaining a western American feel both in music and
lyrics (such as the lyrics in “Lost Weekend”, about a couple who
just lost their life savings in Las Vegas, and “Factory”, about a
factory worker). I’m not sure whether the album’s being played
on many radio stations, having only heard it on Reed College’s
(Portland OR) radio station KRRC. Wall of Voodoo has recorded at
least one other album, “Dark Continent”, but I haven’t listened
to it yet.

Questions: has anyone else heard this album or the previous one?
Opinions? How long has Wall of Voodoo been around?

John Bredehoft (…!teklabs!reed!bred)

P.S. At least one other person likes this album; the KRRC copy
has mysteriously disappeared…

This isn’t the first time that I discussed this particular 1982 post. Several years ago, I gave a presentation in which I talked about the changes between 1982 and 2007. In the space of a quarter century, we went from talking about Wall of Voodoo on Usenet to talking about Wall of Voodoo on MySpace (they had a MySpace page at the time). In fact, I talked about it on my MySpace blog. Today, if you go to https://myspace.com/oemperor/blog/317516134, you can see…well, you can see this.

myspace-404

This is only part of the image. The entire image uses artist pictures to spell out the number “404.”

Cute, MySpace.

P.S. Just in case the story about Google’s acquisition of Dejanews becomes a dead link, here is the meat of the story:

February 12, 2001 11:30 AM PST
Google buys remaining Deja.com business
By Paul Festa
Staff Writer, CNET News

Internet veteran Deja.com sold off the last of its parts to relative newcomer Google, ending a long and troubled run as an advertising-supported also-ran….

Despite closing out the final chapter in a six-year saga, Deja.com executives sounded upbeat about the acquisition.
“We think Google is a great home for this service,” said Richard Gorelick, chief strategy officer. “Our service and their service work very well together.”

Deja.com originated as Dejanews, a site for searching and participating in discussion groups carried on the Internet’s Usenet network. It changed its name to Deja.com when it decided to focus on product reviews by consumers. The company subsequently added information on consumer products, making it a competitor to sites such as mySimon, which is owned by CNET Networks, publisher of News.com.

Yes, CNET and news.com – the people who brought you the com.com that Louis Gray was talking about in his post.

Things I wrote four years ago are already outdated

In the process of writing a music post that referenced a tymshft post, I linked to a business post that was one of the posts that inspired me to create the tymshft blog.

Or, to put it more succinctly, I recently read a post that I wrote four years ago.

And I laughed.

The post started as follows:

Recently my Google Reader feed was flooded with items regarding new things from Amazon.

Yes, at one time Google Reader was one of my primary information-gathering tools. Now it no longer exists.

But the real funny part occurred later in the post.

Now many of us still primarily think of Amazon as that place from which you can get CDs.

What’s a CD? Even I don’t buy CDs any more.

The basic point of the post, by the way, still rings true. We will still continue to alternate between two models of computing, a “benevolent model” with centralized services, and a “rugged individualist model” in which you do everything yourself. Right now we’re on the benevolent cloud side of the pendulum, but within a few short years people will “take control” and the pendulum will shift.

But you won’t find an announcement of the latest Rugged Individualists CD in your Google Reader.

Those scandalous musicians today…

My name’s Dale. I’m a junior at the local private college in town.

This morning my pa bailed me out of jail.

He wasn’t saying anything as we walked to his car, but once we were safely in the car he asked the question. “Dale,” he asked, “why did I just have to bail you out of jail? You were just going to a concert – a Miley Cyrus concert, of all things – and next thing I know you’re under arrest?”

I guess I should backtrack a bit and explain how I ended up at a Miley Cyrus concert in the first place. My pa makes good money, so I was able to get into the fraternity at college. There’s a guy named George in the fraternity also. While my pa makes good money, George’s pa makes REALLY good money. So even though George was only a freshman, and a bit of a jerk at that, we let him into the fraternity anyway. He’s happy because he gets all the beer he can drink even though he’s underage, and the rest of us are happy because George gets all these goodies from his pa.

One day George came into the house and announced that his pa had tickets to the Miley Cyrus concert. Initially I wasn’t impressed because I didn’t want to hear Disney music. But my friend Mick pointed out that Miley Cyrus had gone beyond that, and that she did sexy dances at some TV awards show and did her videos naked. Well, that perked me up, so we all planned to go to the show.

On the day of the concert, we all gathered in the house to wait for the limos. George’s pa owned a limo service. We had a beer while we were waiting. OK, maybe we had a few beers.

The limos took us to the concert, and we discovered that George’s pa had gotten us front row seats. Well, when you consider that George’s pa’s company is on the name of the new sports arena, it stands to reason that he’d be able to score good seats for his youngest son and his friends.

So we were sitting in the front row, laughing, having a good time and ignoring the opening act. After a while, the Miley Cyrus part of the concert started. And maybe I had a few, but to me she looked really good. She started singing some ridiculous song, but Mick and George and I were waiting for the REAL show to start. Mick had sworn that Miley was going to dance naked, and she was doing nothing of the sort yet.

Like I said, I had drank a few beers before the show – well, maybe more than a few – so apparently I began loudly demanding that Miley get on with the show. Or, as the subsequent police report phrased it, “Mr. Smith loudly demanded that Ms. Cyrus disrobe, disrupting other concert attendees.” Well, that’s what the police report said. I don’t really remember. Mick and George said that I was standing up and screaming, and that people began throwing things at me. Like I say, I can’t remember.

Well, according to the police report, the next thing that I did was to try to get onstage to air my demands that Ms. Cyrus take her clothes off like she did in the video.

That’s when I was arrested.

That’s the story that I told to my pa – the whole thing – and I waited to see what would happen next. My head was throbbing, so I wanted to get the whole thing over with.

To my surprise, my pa started laughing.

“Dale,” he said to me with a grin on his face, “did I ever tell you the story about how I got banned from the OLD sports arena for life after the 1992 Madonna concert? You know, back when she had that sex book and all that?”

Take me out coach, I don’t know how to play

Songwriters write about the things they know, which can cause some difficulties when the song is heard by people of different cultures. I was one of many people who had to learn what “vegemite” was when Men at Work’s “Down Under” became popular in the United States. (In a similar fashion, when Midnight Oil sang about “45 degrees” in “Beds Are Burning,” it took me a while to realize that the band was talking about very hot temperatures.)

But what of the effect of time on song lyric interpretation?

In the early 1970s, Joe Walsh composed and recorded a song called “Rocky Mountain Way.” His European fans were presumably puzzled by some of the lyrics:

Bases are loaded and Casey’s at bat
Playin’ it play by play
Time to change the batter

Even those Americans who were not familiar with the 1888 poem “Casey at the Bat” still knew what sport Walsh was discussing. And although there was no major league baseball team in Colorado at the time – the Rockies would not come until much later – the Triple A Denver Bears were playing in the state in 1973, the year the record was released.

Since 1973, there has of course been one famous song that referenced baseball – John Fogerty’s “Centerfield.”

But what about today’s music? How often does the beloved national pastime crop up in 21st century songs?

I thought of this when listening to a Los Angeles Sparks commercial on the radio. The Sparks, of course, are a team in the Women’s National Basketball Association, and unlike the men, they play on a summer schedule. So when advertising on Los Angeles sports radio, and bearing in mind that the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers had been eliminated from the NBA playoffs, and the Los Angeles Kings had been eliminated from the NHL playoffs, the Sparks chose to advertise that they are now “the only game in town.”

And for many in Los Angeles, the Sparks truly are the only game in town. The Los Angeles Dodgers, and Rita Moreno of Arte’s baseball team down the freeway, have no meaning in their lives.

Don’t believe me? Look at the statistics. Brad Wells wrote the following in October – yes, October – 2010.

Last night, a boring Monday Night Football contest between two back-up quarterbacks in the city of Jacksonville drew a better TV rating (7.2 percent) than the American League Championship Series (ALCS) playoff game between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers. That game drew a terrible 6.5.

And according to a 2003 report from Gallup, baseball has long since disappeared from the national consciousness:

For many years, Gallup has asked Americans which sport is their “favorite sport to watch.” Baseball, long known as the national pastime, easily topped the list from 1937-1960, with slightly more than one in three Americans naming it as their favorite sport. But a 1972 Gallup Poll showed football overtaking baseball as Americans’ favorite sport, a distinction it continues to hold today. Meanwhile, the percentage claiming baseball as their favorite sport has continued to decline, while basketball and auto racing are increasing their popularity. Gallup’s most recent data, from December 2002, show 37% of Americans saying football is their favorite sport, followed by basketball at 13% and baseball at 12%.

And considering the steriod issues that plagued baseball after 2003 – things to which Wells alluded in his article – I suspect that baseball’s popularity has not reversed its course.

So if you want to speak cryptically among today’s youth, sprinkle phrases such as “bats four hundred” and “three and two” into your conversation. They’ll have no idea what you’re talking about.

Why are some revolutions imperceptible?

I recently read something by Jim Ulvog, which referenced something written by Matthew Yglesias. But before I talk about what they wrote, I’d like to share an example of what they were both talking about.

When I first entered the fingerprint identification industry in 1994, the computational power required for fingerprint encoding and matching exceeded the capabilities of the general-purpose computers available at the time – even high end computers from Digital Equipment Corporation. Because of this, my employer had to build special-purpose cards to insert into these computers to allow them to keep up with the computations that were required. I was writing proposals at the time, and spent a lot of time enthusing about the fact that these special cards were much smaller than the ones used in the prior generation of automated fingerprint identification systems. Because of this small size, I wrote at the time, these products – Printrak’s “Fingerprint Processor 2000″ and “Minutiae Matcher 2000″ – were truly revolutionary.

Within a few years, the computational power of computers had increased, and Printrak was able to do away with the Fingerprint Processor 2000 and the Minutiae Matcher 2000 altogether. We no longer needed special purpose boards to crank out these processes – and, as an added bonus, some of the computers didn’t have to be expensive Digital Equipment Corporation computers any more. We could buy a computer from Compaq (which, coincidentally, purchased Digital Equipment Corporation), and this computer was completely capable of performing all of the fingerprint processing without any special card.

This completely revolutionized the automated fingerprint identification system industry, since it was now possible to use general purpose computers for fingerprint identification. Rather than depending upon the AFIS vendors such as Printrak to provide souped-up computers, government agencies could (if they wished) now buy the computers themselves, from the same purchasing schedules that they used to purchase their other computers.

A huge revolution, but most of you never heard about it. Why not? Because the automated fingerprint identification industry was, and is, extremely small. The four leading AFIS vendors in the 1990s had aggregated annual revenues of much less than US$1 billion dollars. So it’s safe to say that Printrak’s reduced need for DEC computers was not the catalyst that sent DEC into the arms of Compaq.

Back to Ulvog and Yglesias. Ulvog’s post Impact of the technology revolution has barely begun states that the recent technology revolutions have taken place in industries that don’t play a huge role in the economy. But when technology changes impact larger industries – Ulvog cites education and health care as two examples – then we’ll REALLY see changes.

Ulvog’s thoughts on this were crystallized when he read Yglesias’ article, Why I’m Optimistic About Growth and Innovation. Yglesias begins by talking about a huge technological change that took place several hundred years ago – yet at the time, that change was imperceptible to the broader public.

A printing press based on movable type, for example, was an enormous boon to productivity in the book manufacturing sector. It had almost no impact on economy-wide productivity, however, simply because the book manufacturing sector of 17th-century Europe was trivially small.

So when, according to Yglesias, did the Industrial Revolution really take hold? When technological changes were applied to a much more important industry – apparel manufacturing.

In a similar manner, Yglesias (and Ulvog) note that recent technological changes have occurred in industries such as journalism and music. “But,” you argue, “journalism and music are HUGE. Rupert Murdoch and the music company heads control huge companies.”

Not really.

Take a look at the 2012 Fortune 500. This list doesn’t measure companies based upon stock valuation; it measures companies based upon actual revenue. (An argument could be made that profit is more important than revenue, but I don’t think that a ranking by profit will significantly impact my point here.)

Number one on the list? Not a journalism company. Not a music company. Number one on the list was ExxonMobil, with over $450 billion in revenue.

Number two was WalMart, with revenue of over $445 billion. Yes, they sell music – along with everything else under the sun.

You have to go through a number of companies – other oil companies, auto companies, banks, health firms, diversified companies such as Berkshire Hathaway – before you get to a company that makes a substantial amount of its revenue from journalism or music. That company, News Corp (Murdoch’s firm) is 91st in the Fortune 500, with revenue of about $33.4 billion – or an order of magnitude lower than the revenue of an ExxonMobil or a WalMart. Time Warner, by the way, is 103rd at about $29 billion.

So, for example, if News Corp and Time Warner were both to be completely devastated by technological change, and were to be liquidated, it would cause some discomfort. But if ExxonMobil, Chevon, or ConocoPhillips were to be liquidated, we’d probably be plunged into another Great Depression.

This is one of the reasons why Jim Ulvog talks about the oil industry so much. In his post, he provides this example:

…the astounding ability to change direction on a drill and control its location 10,000 feet underground and out 10,000 feet horizontally from there. Could you push a 20,000 foot piece of steel piping through solid rock and have the tip be exactly where you want it to be, plus or minus a few feet?

What has this technology – and others – done?

Turned North Dakota into the second largest oil-producing state in the country. More than Alaska or California.

Put US oil production back to where it was over 20 years ago.

Makes it a reasonable possibility the US could be a net energy *exporter* in a decade or so. An exporter.

And that’s going to make a bigger difference in our lives than the New York Times’ efforts to work out a monetization model. Not that this isn’t important – I know a number of journalists who have been displaced or adversely affected by change, and it’s undeniable that the music industry is changing. But a $1 per gallon increase of decrease in the cost of gasoline will have a huge impact on the ENTIRE economy.

You will still take a cab to the doctor’s office. For a while.

In May of 2003, Edith was a 75 year old widow. Though she missed her husband terribly, she still maintained an active life. This was complicated by the fact that she never learned to drive, but what are friends – and cab companies – for?

Being somewhat set in her habits, she would always have her medical checkup on the first Tuesday in May. The routine never varied. An hour before her appointment, Edith would go to the living room, pick up the phone, and call the cab company. The cab driver would arrive half an hour later and take her to the doctor’s office. Edith would pay the cab driver with a credit card – she didn’t like using the cabs that required cash – and then go into the doctor’s office, see the receptionist, and wait. She’d then spend some time with a nurse, and toward the end of the appointment would spend some time with the doctor. Edith was amused by the fact that she was now older than her doctor.

Edith remained in remarkably good health, so she continued to visit the doctor every year. And even in 2013, when she was 85 years old, the routine never varied – or it didn’t vary much. She still scheduled her doctor’s appointments for the first Tuesday in May, and she still took a cab to the doctor’s office. She still went to the living room to call the cab – not because the phone was there, but because she always liked to make her calls from the living room. It was easier to make the call to the cab company, because she had the number pre-programmed into her Jitterbug phone. And her daughter had set things up so that she could pay the cab driver in advance, through her computer. Edith could have booked the cab through the computer also, but that just didn’t feel right. She did appreciate the safety of paying online, though. The cab driver took her to the doctor’s office, just as before, and she had to wait in the waiting room, just as before (well, maybe a little bit longer). These days she spent much more time with the nurses than she did with the doctor, but the doctor always made sure to spend a few minutes with Edith. The doctor actually liked to spend time with Edith; some of his patients would probably just as soon have the doctor email his findings to them, and skip that whole “discussion” bit.

Time continued, and while Edith slowed down a bit, she was still able to maintain her independence. So in May 2023, when Edith was 95 years old, she still scheduled her doctor appointment for the first Tuesday in May, and she still took a cab to the doctor’s office. The routine never varied – well, maybe a little bit. Edith had booked and paid for the cab a month before the appointment, using the online Gacepple Calendar service. (Gacepple, of course, was the company that resulted from the merger of Google, Facebook, and Apple – the important merger that saved the tech industry in the United States from extinction. But I digress.) An hour before the appointment, Gacepple Calendar reminded Edith of her appointment, and five minutes later the Toyota in the street let her know that it had arrived. No, not the driver – there was no driver – but the Toyota itself.

Edith was the expert on driverless cars. Outside of the techie circles, most individuals didn’t own driverless cars. But the cab companies that Edith used sure did. While some cabdrivers protested over their job losses, many of them got jobs with churches, nursing homes, and other groups that didn’t have the money – yet – to afford a driverless car. Edith was secretly pleased with the elimination of cab drivers – all of the cab drivers in the past had listened to that horrid country music, and Edith liked the freedom to choose her own music on the way to the doctor’s office. Edith, of course, usually listened to oldies music – early Katy Perry was her current favorite.

After the Toyota delivered Edith to the doctor’s office, she went to the front door, was identified by the multi-biometric reader, and walked in. She announced her presence in the waiting room. “We’re ready for you, Edith,” said the friendly voice. “Would you like someone to guide you through the examination?”

“Yes,” replied Edith. “I’m not that good with all of this electronic stuff. Yesterday I set my alarm for seven o’clock PM instead of seven o’clock AM! Not that I need an alarm to wake up.”

The friendly person opened the door for Edith and told her to go to Examination Room C.

“So do you still need people to perform some of the tests?” asked Edith as she sat in the comfortable chair.

“Actually,” replied the friendly voice, “none of the tests requires human intervention. In fact” – the voice paused for a bit – “we’re already done.”

“Wow, that was quick!” replied Edith. “And I didn’t even have to get poked or take any clothes off.”

“We try to make the experience as comfortable as possible for all of our patients,” said the friendly voice. “We know that medical appointments in the past used to be very uncomfortable for some people, but with today’s scanners and medical reading devices, we can complete the examination without laying a hand – or sensor – on you. We’ll mail the results to Edith Smith at Gacepple dot com. Did you have any questions?”

“Actually, I had two,” replied Edith. “First, will there ever be a time when me – or my children – won’t have to come down to the office for the examination?”

The friendly voice replied. “Actually, we offer this service right now, and some of our REALLY elderly patients prefer it, because it allows more constant monitoring of their medical condition. Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover the cost, but – just a moment – I’ll mail you the information on our home service.”

“Thank you,” said Edith. “And if you have a minute, I do have one more question for you.”

“I have the time,” replied the friendly voice.

“I have to admit that I was unnerved a couple of years ago when I came to the medical office and no one was here. I had been warned that this would happen, but was told that a person would guide me by voice to the office and conduct the exam. After a while, I’ve gotten used to the idea of talking to you, even though you’re not here.”

“Well, I’m glad you’ve gotten used to the procedure,” replied the friendly voice. “I hope you like me!”

“I do,” said Edith. “You’ve been very helpful. But I’ve always wondered exactly WHERE you were. If you were in Los Angeles, or in Mississippi, or perhaps in India or China, or perhaps even in one of the low-cost places such as Chad. If you don’t mind my asking, exactly where ARE you?”

“I don’t mind answering the question,” replied the friendly voice, “and I hope you don’t take my response the wrong way, but I’m not really a person as you understand the term. I’m actually an application within the software package that runs the medical center. But my programmers want me to tell you that they’re really happy to serve you, and that Stanford sucks.” The voice paused for a moment. “I’m sorry, Edith. You have to forgive the programmers – they’re Berkeley grads.”

“Oh,” said Edith after a moment. “This is something new. I’m used to it in banking, but I didn’t realize that a computer program could run an entire medical center. Well…who picks up the trash?”

“That’s an extra question! Just kidding,” replied the friendly voice. “Much of the trash pickup is automated, but we do have a person to supervise the operation. Ron Hussein. You actually know him – he was your cab driver in 2018 when you came here.”

(DISCLOSURE: I am employed in the biometrics industry.)

For further information, see this discussion of Vinod Khosla’s views on the future of medicine, and this discussion of the future of driverless cars. And it shouldn’t surprise you to know that Tad Donaghe has commented on both of these stories.

21st century schizoid man

Mayo Clinic:

Schizoid personality disorder is a condition in which affected people avoid social activities and consistently shy away from interaction with others.

SoshiTech:

According to the demo video, the vibration sensors are supposed to mimic real human touch. You use the smartphone app to specify the portions of your partners body you’d like to stimulate, which are represented through circles on those body parts. When you touch those circles, it activates the [Durex "Fundawear"] underwear’s vibration sensors.

More here.

Me:

The sad thing is that there will be couples, sitting next to each other in bed, each holding a smartphone and touching their touchscreens.

21st century schizoid man, indeed.

Which leads us to King Crimson:

Nothing he’s got he really needs

Retailers, don’t entertain us. We will entertain ourselves. #apmp

I have signed up for tomorrow evenings’s APMP California Chapter webinar. For various reasons, I will not be attending the webinar from my office. It is nearly impossible for me to get home in time for the webinar. So I’ll be attending from a point in between the two – preferably a spot with free wi-fi and with food. However, I need to make sure that the free wi-fi is robust enough to allow me to participate in the webinar. Ideally, I’d like to test the connection beforehand.

Today a testing opportunity presented itself – sort of. I left my lunch on the kitchen counter this morning, so I was going to have to eat lunch somewhere anyway. Why not try one of the potential wi-fi hotspots?

My test, however, would not be a complete test of the restaurant’s wi-fi capabilities. For one, the webinar itself is not going to take place until tomorrow. For another, I left my netbook at home (unlike my lunch, this was intentional). So instead of listening to a webinar on my netbook using the restaurant’s free wi-fi, I would be listening to Spotify (specifically, the radio station based upon deadmau5’s “Clockwork”) on my mobile phone using the restaurant’s free wi-fi.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t named the restaurant in question. That’s because my experiment didn’t work out so well.

Most everything was great. The wi-fi worked (once I connected to the public network, rather than the private network for the employees). Spotify worked perfectly. And the food was good.

So what was the problem?

Diamond Dave.

You see, this particular restaurant chooses to play music. This is because decades ago, a scientist (I think his name was John Muzak) determined that if you played music at a retail establishment, people would buy more. So now almost all retail establishments play background music. Of course, the background music varies from place to place – “Hank’s Old-Timey Country Emporium” uses a slightly different playlist than “I Want to Die Teen Clothing Hangout.”

And this particular restaurant was playing a Van Halen song from the David Lee Roth era – I had to turn my volume way up this afternoon to hear the deadmau5 sound-alikes.

Obviously this would present a problem if I were to go to the same restaurant tomorrow night. I can picture it now.

The California Chapter of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals is pleased to present Nancy Webb, who will provide a preview of…

PANAMA!

…which she will present at the APMP Bid & Proposal Con 2013 in…

PANAMA!

…Page Architecture is an integrated visual approach to page design that encompasses…

PANAMA!

Now if I were working on a proposal for Panama, these interruptions may be appropriate. But it makes it hard to listen to my music – or to a webinar.

I’ll grant that my need is a special case, but there are a number of instances in which we don’t want to hear a retail establishment’s music because we have our own music. Many people, especially young people, have personal music devices that are very easy to carry around, and the smaller headphones allow you to listen to your own soundtrack. Yes, it’s anti-social – but the imposition of someone else’s soundtrack is equally anti-social.

What are the chances that retail background music will…um…fade away in the next decade?

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 95 other followers