Who Knew that Buy.com Sold Books too?

On the Internet, it's easy for almost anyone to go in to any type of business.  Yet every now and then I'm still surprised when I find a business that is expanded into an area that I just didn't expect.

I came across simple example of us tonight when I'm searching for a RAM memory upgrade for my computer.  I was browsing through buy.com and notice that they also happen to sell books, like Harry Potter and others.  I'm not sure if they're going to be the next replacement for Amazon.com, but in a way it does make sense that they sell books to cover many other things and offer up some good deals from time to time.

In general when we buy things on the Internet, it's important to remember that most of the merchants on the Internet are just middlemen.  The creators of whatever it is that were buying, or the producers that is are the ones actually making the widgets.  The Internet basically creates one big marketplace where you can get the same thing from almost anyone.

The big difference is typically an a service and support and sometimes the price.

Government Preparing for Cover Ups - Scape Goating P2P Networks

 The House of Representatives held a hearing this week and pulled the mother of all trump cards out to attack the Peer to Peer industry.  The government is accusing the P2P industry of being a threat to national security and they are lumping confidential corporate accounting documents in the mix.

They claim that sensitive documents are being shared on peer to Peer networks (like the governments unconstitutional domestic wiretapping activities).  They specifically call out a number of areas that do not seem to be related to government at all.  The list of topics includes:

Now, any one of these items might risk exposure on a P2P network or any other area of the internet for that matter, but it bothers me that the government is citing the networks as the risk.

Let's say that Limewire came across papers disclosing that President Bush at called for the detainment and torture of prisoners of war in Iraq and those papers had a very high classification on them.  The government should have been responsible enough to have kept those sensitive documents from being leaked. 

In regards to corporate documents, they too have a responsibility to keep documents safe.  In fact, this type of leak often is the thing in the corporate world that exposes corruption.

When you see those two topics put together by a Republican in Congress calling out the holy concept of national security it makes me suspicious that they may have something to hide, possibly even a scandal of their own.

The truth is that the world is rapidly opening up and becoming more and more transparent.  The politicians need to learn this and learn how to adapt to running a super power in a world where information travels at the speed of light.

You push a button and the world sees your order.  Complete some sensitive market research and sooner or later others are going to learn the same thing. Collude with a corporation and some day soon it will be exposed. Have an affair with a prostitute and the phone records will become public. Stash $90,000 in your freezer and it will probably show up on YouTube.

The Right Stuff, Drunk and Sabotaged

Now that the public has developed at taste for scandal at NASA, it seems only fitting that NASA would seize upon the opportunity to prove the axiom that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  So following the diaper wearing astronaut that drove half way across the country to kidnap her lovers new girlfriend, NASA has been struggling to find its next 'moon shot' in the tabloids.

Fortunately, some of the astronauts didn't have to much difficulty in figuring out a new waive of buzz in the media, after all most of them are rocket scientists.

Apparently, some of those rocket scientists have been tying one on before a launch and showing up the next morning to fly still very drunk.  So drunk in fact that they were identified to be a risk to the mission and its safety.  But they were allowed to fly.

Then contractors at NASA identified some electronics gear intended to be installed on the International Space Center that had been sabotaged as well. 

The damage to wiring in an electronics box was intentional and obvious, NASA's associate administrator for space operations, Bill Gerstenmaier told reporters at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA probes sabotage, report says pilots flew drunk - US

Now, the drunkenness is definitely disturbing when you consider that people's lives are riding on each and every mission not to mention the billions of dollars that US citizens have invested in NASA over the years.  Given the antics that are coming to light, it seems unlikely that sabotage is less than serious.  Its probably not some prank being played by a bunch of jockie types trying to one up each other with practical jokes and hazing attempts, replacing diet suppliments like hydroxycut with laxatives or something. Flying a space shuttle under the influence should be against the law (if its not already) and sabotage of space equipment could possibly be a treasonable offence. Imagine what other countries would say if a tragedy happened at the international space station because American equipment went into space after it had been tampered with.

Wider the Monitor the wider the interface to your Brain

It strikes me that over the years monitors have gotten bigger as technology improves and prices go down.  We always blindly accept that our vision will benefit from bigger, brighter and more colorful.

The reality is that the monitor is an interface through our eyes and directly to our brains. That bigger better lcd monitor that makes things more clear for our eyes to see and our brains to accept.

That $200 monitor that gives you twenty inches of insight into the big picture is worth every dollar of its price tag.

Reverse Perspective

Can you imagine saying to yourself, I want to go buy a monitor that only shows me half of the big picture or cuts off 20% of the most important part of the big picture. 

I want something that provides more distortion or runs more slowly or is difficult to see from multiple angles in my home or office.

Not To Likely

We go for better technology, especially a monitor.  Its our primary input into our brains right before our ears. 

Online Protest Power

More and more people are finding their protest voice online.  The web enables people to share their complete opinion online and many people are getting more creative about how they amplify their voice.

Here are some Examples

KentuckyFriedCruelty targets KFC

WakeUpWalmart.com

Here are some more protest sites

Radioshack Sucks
Slaveway
Home Depot Sucks
Target Sucks
PayPalSucks
Frontline
Is Sam the Devil?
Wal*Mart Movie

Similarly, its very easy to find petitions, especially for the Impeachment of George Bush and now even the suspension of Michael Vick.

Back to School Gadget that Campus Security will not like

I have no idea what drove me to this site, but I came across a website that sells mini motorcycles.  You've probably seen these a few times if you live in the suburbs or the city.  They look like crotch rockets made for 1st graders.

pocketrocket-mini-motorcycle

But they are capable of doing 65 miles per hour and rev up with a four stroke engine that can actually provide some fun power. 

Following a tangent of thought that should not be possible for a person with 2 degrees and a master's in laws, I started day dreaming about having drag races on mini motorcycles on the sidewalks of the quad of my alma mater.

Think something like that Greek challenge from revenge of the nerds with the beer and tricycles and then provide some a little bit of mini me power and you can do 65 miles per hour in the quad.

Stupid - Yes.

Fun - Definitely.

Land you in campus jail before finals - Probably so.

These things aren't terribly expensive as toys go.  They cost under $600.  Your typcial college Junior could probably get a student loan consolidation and save that much in interest.  They could probably film it and put it on itunes and pay for the rest of their tuition even. 

Maybe even pay for bail money and a lawyer also!

Is Microsoft's OS troubles starting with Vista?

 Lackluster sales of Microsoft's new operating system Vista.  I've read articles from the PC manufacturers that tell us that they have not seen a increase in demand in PC sales as a result of the upgrade Vista.  I've heard of troubling sales numbers coming from Microsoft and its operating system.

I have even heard that the steep cost of the upgrade both in equipment and software is proving to be the straw that broke the camel's back and is pushing many people onto Apple computers and OSx.

In a way I am half of an example of the problem that Microsoft faces.  I purchased a Vista capable machine for tax purposes at the end of the year.  All I have to do is go online I can download of copy a Vista, but I haven't done that because I'm afraid of what it might do with some of my other software programs.  I've made a pass to of the hurdles of most people face, the equipment and the cost of the software, but I can't get past the potential problems and costs of the other software already on my machine that isn't even related to Microsoft.  QuickBooks 2006 is actually one of my primary hangups that I know for sure is not compatible with Vista.

I wonder if the Microsoft monopoly might actually be finally coming to an end following a 20 to 27 year reign.

 

Dilemma of Microsoft Vista at Top 10 Tech Software

Do you Have a Good Voice for your Business?

Do you have a good voice for your business?  If you lined up voice talent that can truly inaccurately get your message across to your readers or to your customers without turning them off?

Finding great voice over talent is not easy to do, but it need not be impossible.  There are many great voiceover artists you hear on the radio and television every day that are available to do work for you, your publication, or even for your business in an advertisement.

Great voiceover talent doesn't have to cost a fortune either.  Artist availability is probably greater than what you think.  It makes sense if you consider that voiceover talent artists are not necessarily going in to work on the same project or script day after day after day.  This enables them to have great range of availability for many different projects.  That availability extends all around the country and with the power of the Internet you can even make arrangements from long distances without having to sit down in the same studio with the artist that you choose.

iPhone Converted to iSmoke on Will it Blend

Watch this video to see a perfectly good Apple iPhone converted into iSmoke in a blender.  I bet the Apple warranty department is going to have a puzzled look on their face with this return!

Make sure you share this one with your friends, and if you do try this at home, DO NOT INHALE THE ISMOKE!

The funny thing is that you can watch this video via YouTube on your iPhone while you blend your own iPhone n a blender. Kind of reminds me of the Disco is dead era when they were blowing up disco records. . . .

UK Broadband Directory - UK v US Broadband rate correlation

About half of our readers here on Maven Mapper's Information are from the United Kingdom.  I was doing a little comparison between services from the United States to the same services offered in the United Kingdom.

I noticed that while gasoline is more expensive in the UK than it is in the US, it is much easier to find Cheap Broadband in the United Kingdom.  Not only are there more offerings, but the average rates are less than what you find in the US.  In fact when you look at US based companies like AOL operating in the UK,they seem to export their high US price structure to the UK and end up competing with a service package 3 times higher than the average Broadband Provider.

I haven't put together a more detailed comparison yet these are still just first impressions.  However, I am somewhat intrigued to the correlation of gas to broadband rates.

In the US we have low gas prices and high broadband prices.  While the inverse can be found in the UK where broadband prices are low and gas prices are high.

Plus its also easier to Compare Broadband in the UK than it is in the US.  I suspect this has more to do with a smaller geographical area.

Snap shot of partial index of UK broadband prices

Call Sprint Customer Service a Whole Bunch to Avoid Early Termination Fees

 Cnet ran into a somewhat interesting story about Sprint getting mad with some of their customers that call to complain too often.  So Sprint decided to churn through these complaint happy customers and dump them.  Sprint sent out a 30 + day notice to some of their customers on June 29.  The customers were informed that they had until July 31 to find a new wireless provider if they wanted to keep their phone numbers.

Sprint was also nice enough not to charge their customers and early cancellation fee of $200 for getting canceled by Sprint.

One canceled customer reportedly had called to have a billing error fixed.  Sprint re-routed her call multiple times and hung up on her.  She feels that Sprint is now canceling her account because their own call center system may have made it look like she called in more than she really did.

This strategic move to cancel customers before they cancel on Sprint might be the best thing that ever happened to many Sprint customers.  The Nextel customers that got stuck with Sprint after one of the most ill conceived mergers in the telecom world mixing Sprint's horrendous track record of bad call quality and even poorer customer service with Nextel's business customer base, might get lucky with an early out also.  This has to be one of the strangest moves that a wireless company could take, but its not terribly surprising as there just seems to be something flawed in the DNA of Sprint's corporate culture.

There are probably a large number of Sprint Customers that would probably love to get out of the terrible contract they are stuck in.  Maybe all they need to do is call in to customer service a little more often during peak calling hours.  Then maybe come the end of July, they will get that most sought after letter saying that there Sprint contract will be canceled without any early cancellation fees!

Sprint breaks up with high-maintenance customers | Tech news blog - CNET News.com

i-Hype-Phone iNails iLid on Motorola iCoffin

 The iPhone is a first generation prototype piece of junk.  It lacks fundamental phone capabilities and delivers a nice user interface that is incomplete at best.  That won't stop the iPhone from nailing Motorola.

Motorola announced a $101M 2Q charge for cuts relating to layoffs.  Motorola has consistently proven itself to be incapable of making the right choices.  They have been unable to choose the right products, the right prices, the right partnerships, and possibly even the right CEO.

Motorola probably made their worst choice when they partnered with Apple on the iRokr, Apple's first junkie mobile phone MP3 player.  Motorola was too ignorant to avoid dealing with Apple back then and they have paid for it dearly for the last 12 months as Apple has raced to hype and raced to market with the iPhone.

Apple has successfully sold the hype and Motorola is taking a 2Q charge.  

Cell phones and the cell phone industry will not benefit from a dead Motorola nor will they benefit from an Apple i-Hype-Phone. 

Socially Responsible Investment Manager Demand rising

AE Feldman's Management Consulting Firm Blog,  recently posted on their blog that there is a rising demand for Investment Managers that have experience or capabilities in Socially Responsible investing.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Socially Responsible Investing, its basically investing in stocks, or other financial investment tools that are backed by companies or organizations that are socially responsible.  This means they do not harm their stakeholders nor act unethically.

Stakeholders can include but might not be limited to stockholders, employees, partners, the community where the company is located, the consumers of the product and the world at large.  Anyone or anything that might be impacted by a company has a stake in that company acting responsibly.

This is not a new concept, but it has been growing in importance over the last few years.  Many people thought this would take off after the fall of Enron and the disclosure of the ineffectuality of auditors and bankers to police corporations books.

The tide has been rising in demand for more socially responsible companies as people continue to become disenfranchised with ineffectual government and with corporations that pillage communities and stakeholders as opposed to building up an ecosystem of good business.

Texting in an Emergency

The Boston police have finally started to catch up with the texting capabilities of police forces around the world.  They have set up a text messaging tip hotline where citizens can text in 'anonymous' tips.  Now, I have no earthly idea how anyone could establish an 'anonymous' tip capability, but the concept of texting in an emergency is not a new one.

Many police agencies and emergency response system coordinators encourage texting through coordinate systems under many scenarios that can range from texting when its not prudent to call:

  1. You have been kidnapped
  2. You are a hostage
  3. Your mouth is duct taped
  4. Your signal strenght or battery strength is very low
  5. The person you are contacting might not be available if you were to phone (voice mail is sometimes dangerous)

But there are also other scenarios where this can be useful.

  1. Large crowds can convey information to authorities without clogging up the phone lines.
  2. Some cell phones ould be equipped with sensors for Nuclear/Biological/Chemical attacks
  3. Sending pictures of events to authorities
    1. License plate of dangerous car
    2. image of dangerous person
    3. video of a suspicious incident
    4. picture video of a person harming a child (assuming you can't help)
  4. Receiving anonymous tips when someone doesn't want their voice heard (maybe they are on the fence about being an informant?)
  5. Accepting tips and information in the medium and form that it is available.  Sometimes you have to go with the flow. If people are using text messages to communicate, then accept information in that form.

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