Goodbye Charter, Hello DSLExtreme (or AT&T)

This year, my complaints to Charter fell on deaf ears and they refused to lower the top tier monthly rate of $60 that they were charging me for an internet connection. Fortunately, AT&T is finally rolling out its improved DSL service to Ventura, and I signed up. I shaved my monthly bill down to $45 by subscribing through DSLExtreme, who allowed me to buy the modem in order to avoid monthly rental dues. So, I quit Charter’s service, much to their apparent disappointment.

I’m getting slightly more than one-third the throughput of Charter’s service at 22 megabits/s, but this is enough. Economists tout the virtues of competition. If enough of my neighbors abandon Charter for DSL service, then maybe Charter will begin to compete for customers in Ventura, instead of taking everyone for granted.

That’s the only recourse the consumer has in a deregulated marketplace.

The Selfie: The Next Frontier in the Darwin Awards?



AS this photo from Reuters aptly suggests, a strange intersection between ballsy selfies and the Darwin awards has emerged, and it is likely growing large. Will the next Darwin awards winner earn his or her prize in the act of taking a selfie?


The rise of selfie photography in some of the world’s most beautiful, and dangerous, places is sparking a range of interventions aimed at combating risk-taking that has resulted in a string of

Source: Selfie madness: too many dying to get the picture | Reuters

Goodbye Apple, Hello Asus

I just completed installation of my new Asus RT-AC56U AC1200 router. After failing to get my old Airport Express to work consistently with all my devices after what feels like 100 configuration cycles, I now finally have spectacular network speeds all over the house. Transferring all my existing network devices to the new router was a cinch, and setting up the router was even easier. Everything works perfectly out of the box!

The current generation Airport Express is a fabulous device, but it fails miserably as soon as it encounters the demands that three remote Airplay speakers put on it.

The best part about this Asus router is that by plugging in a 3G/4G USB cellular hotspot, like this one from Verizon or this one from AT&T, the home network can get routed through the cellular network, should Charter decide to raise their prices again.

I’m digging this router! It’s built for the future. Look at these speeds!

Chaka Khan was Awesome

The organizers of the Ventura Counfy Fair deserve a lot of credit for putting together an excellent concert lineup that offered something for everybody. Chaka Khan and the band that backed her up will likely be the best and most tightly coordinated group of musicians to go through Ventura this year. It was nice to be at this performance. 

Chaka Khan at Ventura County Fairgrounds, Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Will the Markets Realize That Twitter is Bullshit?

Some things can’t be summed up in 140 characters.Twitter Inc’s announcement that Dick Costolo would exit as CEO on July 1 was long on plaudits but offered few clues on how the company will tackle its biggest problem: user growth.

Source: Twitter seeks new CEO, and more users, as Costolo exits | Reuters

So begins Reuters’ report on the turmoil in Twitter, the “social” media company that can’t quite manage to live up to the hype that preceded its transition into a publicly traded company.

In case it wasn’t clear to those who bought in early in this turkey of a stock, Twitter is a big, stinking pile of bullshit.

Twitter is a cute attractive idea to the average user, but nothing more. (I opened my account in 2006, and I “tweeted” 13 times for no apparent reason.) People will want to satisfy their ego by broadcasting 140-character nuggets of wisdom to people who are eager to read these nuggets. The hash tag would will allow Twitter and its customers to organize these missives and, thus, gain insight into the behaviors of the masses, a critical insight for marketing. No one questioned the notion that organizing and analyzing the quips of millions of people can be coalesced into a useful metric. Gaining insight into anything from billions of random quips was suspect from the start.

This somewhat dated IBM video shows how Twitter data is monetized. Billions of the short missives (i.e., “tweets”) are collected by search criteria and then organized into data structures that can be broken down by useful (in a marketing sense) categories and quantified. These results would, ostensibly, play a constructive role in shaping marketing research and subsequent and campaigns.

But why the fuck would they?

This premise that aggregates of 140-character messages can contain wisdom about marketing is highly suspect at best and an utter fallacy in all likelihood. People possessed with the free time to set up an account, to market themselves to “followers” who would place enough value on random, terse messages to read them, and to broadcast to these throngs of followers can hardly be considered to be representative of the population at large. The bulk are likely to be fickle teenagers whose tastes change in less time it takes for brilliant Ph.D.’s to analyze their tweets with heavy duty software like IBM’s Big Sheets. The rest are celebrities who can gather millions of these teenage followers. These celebrities effectively get free advertising through Twitter because they keep all the proceeds they get for advertising products to their Twitter followers, and they pay no commissions on the sales that their “tweets” generate.

In short, Twitter is an utterly worthless service. It represents nobody, it contains no useful marketing data, it has no way of capturing any portion of the revenues it generates for the people who use it as a marketing tool, and it offers nothing of any social value to those who participate in it. Not one of the relationships forged via the Twitter service can be construed as a true friendship or a business or personal relationship founded on substantive qualities like trust, affection or respect.

Even with respect to communication–the only level wherein Twitter could have had any claim to legitimacy–Twitter fails, too. It is the antithesis of communication, literacy and intellectual discourse. Even teenagers will eventually develop deep feelings and the capability to express these feelings, and the short expression format of Twitter will fail them. Pithiness is a good thing, but expressing true affection or grave disappointment may well be impossible in 140 characters, even it is accompanied by the same photos that one has already posted to Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other worthless “social” media services.

It would be nice if venerable news sources like Reuters had the backbone to expose one of their technology darlings for the failed experiment that it is. Instead, even Reuters chooses to sensationalize the downfall of this business oddity in terms of the failure of the management to grow the business. There was no business, ever, in the Twitter endeavor. The market fell for it in its typical fawning of seemingly revolutionary technology companies.

Furthermore, Reuters, like all other media companies, is remiss to admit to the fact that it happily played up the fallacious merits of a business entity through which it hoped to get much free publicity and marketing. Lest they lose all credibility, however, they ought to start exposing the social media hoax by coming clean about Twitter. Twitter was a cool experiment for a computer geek, but as a business, it is nothing but a giant, massive, repulsive, stinking mountain bullshit now covered with flies feasting on its accelerating state of decay.

And, the rest of the “social media” aren’t much better.

And, yes, I’m sick and tired of “news” about business hoaxes depriving me of real news, real enlightenment and real insight.

Teachers learn to shoot after Peshawar school attack | Video |

Teachers learn to shoot after Peshawar school attack | Video |

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, the official stance of the National Rifle Association, as stated by its leader, Wayne Lapierre, was

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Implied in the NRA claim is the notion that the United States is a nation as lawless and hopeless as Pakistan; so much so that teachers are being trained with firearms in order to prevent further massacres. The NRA implies that the US government is so inept and so corrupt that it is incumbent upon schools and private citizens to protect children from madmen. The NRA argument is that the United States is a third world country, like Pakistan, where lawlessness rules.

Given that the above video is the embodiment of what the NRA is advocating, it is unequivocal that the NRA is the hopelessly outdated organization that is impeding progress in the United States.

Steal Better Movies, Please

Sony movies leak online as computer systems remain dark | LA Times

Sony’s demise is lamentable. The company is truly legendary in bringing cutting edge technology to the marketplace, especially with respect to entertainment. The company has defined the state of the art in consumer electronics for decades. They have lost their way with consumers, however, by attaching draconian rules to recordings made with their technology, and by leveraging their music and movie production businesses to impede digital media distribution.

The latter act may well have been what motivated hackers to exact revenge on Sony by stealing and distributing its movies, as noted in the LA Times article above.

The greatest disappointment to me is the fact that none of the titles are worthy of watching, in my mind. Fury might be, but the trouble of stealing it via file sharing networks seems hardly worth the trouble.

It’s difficult to condone such a bold act of theft on the part of the hackers–an act that has shut down all of Sony’s computer networks–but, it’s just as difficult to feel sympathy for a company that leverages its market power against the consumers who generate its profits. Conflicts of interest of Sony’s variety–tying entertainment production and distribution to technology–eventually lead to disaster. How could so many executives have been blind to it?

As the Google graph for Sony’s stock price amply demonstrates, it has been long, agonizing demise for Sony. Apple and Samsung have run away with Sony’s lunch while Sony squandered billions creating restrictive technologies to protect intellectual property that nobody cared to buy.

Freedom of the Press

Hong Kong democracy protesters defy tear gas, baton charge in historic standoff | Reuters

 Freedom of the press is taken for granted in the West, but one struggles to remember the last time the American press took a principled stand against the government. A striking example of this is cited in the above story.

Publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, a key backer of the democracy movement, joined the protesters.

The New York Times famously buried a story about the NSA’s illegal exploits under pressure from the Federal government. The Times had every right to publish the story, and it had all the resources it needs to defend itself against any accusations the government might bring, but it caved to the government bullying. In Hong Kong, in contrast, in defiance of an autocratic government, the publishing magnate is willing to risk his own life, not just his fortunes. The New York Times and The Washington Post haven’t shown this kind of moxie since the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal. The hippies were right, it seems. We should look east for leadership and inspiration.

Jimmy Lai’s participation in the Hong Kong protests should remind us that freedom of the press is worthless if the press has no balls.

Breach at JP Morgan Chase

Chase posted the following warning to their mobile app this morning. No unusual activity in my account yet, and hopefully their ongoing investigation won’t reveal that my account was compromised.

This is not the compromising position in which I ever wanted to find myself.


Strange Brew in Weed

Jalapeño Weed Lager. The beer that bites.
Jalapeño Weed Lager. The beer that bites.

Many would call this combination of flavors heresy, but I confess that I am enjoying this Jalapeño Weed Lager. Now if only the food would arrive faster.

virtual but permanent

%d bloggers like this: