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Archive for the month “October, 2013”

How big is your library?

Everything Everywhere has shared a picture of the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar, Germany. I tried to embed the picture but was unsuccessful, so go to the link above to see it. The library consists of shelves of books…shelves and shelves of books. Although I don’t know how many books are in the library, this source says that 1 million articles are available; I don’t know if “articles” means “items” or “newspaper/magazine articles,” but clearly the library has a ton of items.

After I saw this picture, I wondered – could this library fit on a Kindle?

Probably not. According to an item on Amazon’s Askville service, the Kindle Fire can hold about 6,000 books.

But the Duchess Anna Amalia Library could certainly fit on a good laptop.

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Remember when movies were delivered by mail?

Jandy Hardesty, who blogs about movies at Row Three, shared an article about Netflix’s latest earnings report. While the entire company is doing well, with more online subscribers than HBO, one of Netflix’s lines of businesses is declining. The Dissolve references a GigaOM post:

Around seven million customers still pay Netflix to send them DVDs of movies and TV shows via mail. Two years ago, that number was twice as high. Fast forward another two years, and there could be around four million customers left who get their red envelopes from Netflix. Or maybe even less.

While part of the damage was self-imposed by Netflix’s missteps a few years ago, there is clearly less demand for waiting a few days to get a DVD in the mail. So Netflix has downsized:

A Netflix spokesperson recently told the Montana Standard that it was closing “a handful” of its DVD distribution centers, with its facility in Butte, Mt. being one of them. According to the story, Netflix still maintains 39 distribution centers nationwide….Previously, Netflix operated as many as 58 distribution centers.

GigaOM points out two additional factors: the rise in postal rates this January, and the content industry’s move to discourage cheap rentals.

While GigaOM and The Dissolve point out all of the reasons why Netflix may get out of the business sooner rather than later, there is one thing that may discourage them from doing so. I previously mentioned the unpleasantness a few years ago when Netflix unbundled streaming and mail rentals, and initially planned to move the DVD by mail part to a separate company called Qwikster; while memories have faded, Netflix got a ton of negative press at the time. Netflix doesn’t want to go through that again, and may wait as long as possible before killing the DVD by mail business.

When pixel prefixes become antiquated

I recently published something on my Empoprise-BI business blog that talked about pixel resolution in cameras. Back in 2003, you had to explain that “megapixel” stood for a million pixels (give or take). Today, we’re talking about “gigapixel” images (which are really a bunch of megapixel images stitched together).

After I wrote the post, I began wondering about those who figured that the term “gigapixel” – and the term “terapixel” – were obsolete.

It turns out that the obsolescence of terapixel has already occurred, if you read the About page for this online publication:

Established in May of 2009, PetaPixel is a leading blog covering the wonderful world of photography. Our goal is to inform, educate, and inspire in all things photography-related.

I’m sure that the PetaPixel people selected their name with care, figuring that it would last for a few years. But I doubt that they figured that it would last all that long.

Remember that names that seemingly will last forever often don’t. Take Wired Magazine. As I’ve noted, at the time that the magazine was founded, being “wired” was the ultimate in technological innovation. Nowadays, anyone who is actually connected to the online world via a wire is hopelessly out of date.

Maybe the bloggers should have named their publication SortaPixel.

Mailed? Check.

Things are increasing at a more rapid rate, as I realized when I read Chris Kim A’s comment about writing a check and mailing a payment.

Throughout most of my life, writing checks and mailing payments was a commonplace activity. Now it’s a rarity.

Perhaps cable/satellite dominance has tipped

Consider the following:

Already the world’s largest subscription-video service, [Netflix] probably reached 30 million paying U.S. customers as of Sept. 30, according to Needham & Co. HBO, Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s premium cable-TV network, has about 28.7 million, according to researcher SNL Kagan.

Yes, I know that Netflix is trying to reach deals with cable/satellite companies.

But why? Why not keep all the revenue to itself?

Unintended consequences – drugs in Bakken

Many years ago, when I was in college, one of my classmates spent a summer working in the oil fields in Froid, Montana. He came back as a different person, a little rougher around the edges, drinking more. But as time passed, the changes wore off, and last I heard he was a high school science teacher in New Jersey.

Well, the oil fields are still active in that part of the country, and they are booming. Jim Ulvog has done a good job of covering the economic effects of the Bakken oil field – here’s a recent post.

But while boom towns certainly have positive economic effects, the circumstances of a boom town – mostly single men, working hard, with a lot of money – lead to some negative effects. Previously, the issue was an increase in reported sex crimes. But now other effects are being seen. As a Billings newspaper noted:

Six people out of a dozen facing federal charges of trafficking methamphetamine in the Bakken oil field along the Montana and North Dakota border are residents of small Montana towns.

So we’ve had sex, and then drugs – is rock and roll next?

Guaranteed income…where?

Tad Donaghe has been fond of saying that as the changes in the economy result in severe economic disruption, governments will have to start moving toward paying a guaranteed income to their citizens. In response to an earlier list for Barack Obama, Donaghe offered this suggestion:

As automation comes on line, jobs overseas will become irrelevant. We should instead be focusing on how to deal with all the unemployed citizens we’ll soon have. Basic guaranteed income may be our only hope.

I’m not quite prepared to go that far in my thinking yet – I still believe that the current economic disruption will take care of itself, and new high-paying jobs will be created to replace the ones that are going away.

But if I’m wrong and Tad is right, perhaps this new future is beginning now. But it was a surprise to me to see where it’s beginning.

[T]he Swiss people have gathered enough signatures to force a referendum on whether they should guarantee $2800 in monthly income for all adults.

In response to growing inequality in the European bastion of wealth, a grassroots committee has forced a referendum on whether the state should guarantee $2800 in monthly income….

Yes, Switzerland – a country that I always assumed would be somewhat sheltered from economic dislocation – appears to be taking steps to address it.

Gawker adds, however, that no date for the referendum has been set. And of course it’s quite possible that the referendum will fail.

FaaS and online education

We need to be especially trendy with our acronyms. I am not trendy, and therefore missed out on the acronym FaaS. According to Mike Meikle, this particular acronym has been around since 2008.

It stands for “fraud as a service.”

Technology is neutral, and the same technologies that can be used to conduct legitimate businesses can be used to help illegitimate business thrive.

Once purchased, a fraud customer can review monthly status reports within a customer “dashboard” to check a current scheme’s profitability. The services can include “All in One” Trojan suites, which provide the subscriber custom command and control tools over thousands of infected computers in a botnet, from which you can direct a custom fraud campaign. A Pay-Per-Infection service or Centralized Trojan Infection, where a subscriber (criminal groups) can use the fraud providers resources to target specific computers and then only pay for those computers that are successfully infected with the preferred Trojan.

And the list of services goes on.

What if you want to start your budding fraud career, but you don’t know how? The current-day trendy solution of online education can help here also, as Alison Diana notes.

Like their counterparts at major universities, criminal professors are teaching the next generation of cyber criminals via Skype, online courses, and individual tutorials.

And like any good university, job placement is offered:

Modeled on other as-a-service initiatives, one ultimate goal of FaaS is to place “graduates” with the increasingly powerful organized criminal groups behind many of today’s data breaches. Indeed, some teachers go so far as to advocate for their students, vouching for those who display talent in cracking systems….

It’s only a matter of time until we see job boards for ethically and legally challenged businesses. (Note to self: reserve domain name clinkedin.com to service incarcerated professionals.)

Again, technology is neutral.

When the leaders of the House are thwarted by unruly members – and I’m not talking about 2013

Dave Hill shared a Wonkette piece about House Speaker John Boehner’s current situation. In the piece, Robert Costa explained Boehner’s basic problem:

Ever since Plan B failed on the fiscal cliff in January and you saw Boehner in near tears in front of his conference, he’s been crippled. He’s been facing the consequences of that throughout the year. Everything from [the Violence Against Women Act] to the farm bill to the shutdown. The Boehner coup was unsuccessful but there were two dozen members talking about getting rid of him. That’s enough to cause problems. Boehner’s got the veterans and the committee chairs behind him, but the class of 2010 and 2012 doesn’t have much allegiance to him.

The thing that makes Boehner interesting is he’s very aware of his limited hand.

So those who claim that Boehner could solve the current fiscal crisis by bringing a clean continuing resolution to the floor are, in effect, asking Boehner to commit political suicide. And there’s nothing in it for him, unless he wants to earn a Profile in Courage award down the line – and it took Gerald Ford decades to earn his award.

Oh, these evil Republicans in the 21st century, bringing the government to gridlock by running wild. We didn’t see anything like that in previous years.

Uh, wrong, as Toby Moffett well knows.

When the “Watergate Babies,” the largest class of freshman Democrats ever elected to the U.S. House, arrived in late 1974, we wasted no time attacking the seniority system we had campaigned against.

We had the votes to throw out three powerful, veteran chairmen, fellow Democrats, whom we felt had stayed too long. We voted in younger and more reform-minded replacements. For the first time, long-standing chairmen, with “till-death-do-us-part” tenure, had to face a vote of “Yes” or “No” to keep their position.

And the Watergate Babies had their victory. But time passed.

For a time, it appeared that a new breed of politician would permanently rewrite the rules on Capitol Hill. Then the Watergate babies grew up. Today [1992], many of them are powerful committee chairmen, such as Waxman, who heads the subcommittee on Health and Environment, and George Miller (D-Martinez), who chairs the Interior Committee, and Norman Y. Mineta (D-San Jose) of the Surface Transportation subcommittee.

These former Watergate babies now are the targets of frustrated citizens who seek to use term-limit initiatives to oust them from office and blame them for failing to solve the nation’s problems.

Indeed, some members of that class of 1974 proved to be every bit as conventional as their predecessors. Rep. Carroll Hubbard Jr. (D-Ky.), for example, elected president of his freshman congressional class and now chairman of the House Banking subcommittee on oversight and investigations, was recently defeated in the Kentucky Democratic primary after 17 years in Congress by voters who, among other things, objected to his close ties to the thrift industry.

And it should be noted that this article was written before the Republican Revolution of 1994…or the current Tea Party stalemate of 2013.

My October mailroom post

I wrote about mailrooms in August. Then I wrote about then again in September. Might as well continue.

Seriously, something funny happened yesterday. I have a “shred tub” from my Motorola days that I use to haul papers to the shred box. I usually don’t empty the shred box until after a project is over.

Since the project was over, I was walking my tub toward the shred box when I ran into a company director in the hall – someone who had worked on the project that I just completed. He didn’t realize that I was carrying stuff to shred; he just saw that I was carrying a lot of papers.

He asked if I had been demoted to the mailroom.

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