249 posts • joined 26 Sep 2007
"Service Merchandise" catalog showrooms
Everything that is old is new again - there were "catalog showrooms" all over the US, where you roamed through displays of goods, wrote down what you wanted, paid for it, and then waited.... while your "salesman" ran into the back to go pull it off a shelf and assemble your order. Never did understand the point of them. The last of them went tits-up about 20 years ago.
I imagine that they were killed by the big-box retailers where you do all the work yourself and save them the money of having to pull your order.
The other thing that is already back on the "reinvented" is the catalog pickup shelves. When I was a kid, a few of the major US department stores had storefronts locally that were nothing more than shelves of deliveries. You'd make a catalog order over the phone, then you could go locally to pick it up, almost like a department-store's own post-office-box solution. Haven't we seen those recently?
serious tax implications
Many local economies (read: city governments) are funded by car dealerships. I know my town is. The towns will fight to the death to keep or get one.
I like the idea of going direct and generally sticking it to the car dealers, but I know that my town's temple that it built to itself ("city hall") on Main Street doesn't pay for itself. If sales tax goes down they're going to come after the residents to make up the gap. They may go for yet another sales tax increase, or come after us for more property tax.
Re: Not convinced by the crown thing
And using the crown for input relegates the iWatch to a right-handed only device.
Unless lefties are expected to put the thing on upside-down in order to get the crown on the usable side? (Damn, I bet I will regret not patenting that idea.)
might be brilliant paid/viral advertising
Pay a few people to sit in line and look interested. Reporters go talk to them, get the names of their companies, and whammo the free advertising kicks in.
That these companies would be seen in the company as wholly, blindindly, astoundingly, awesome as Apple lends them some points in credibility and the overall "halo". Yes I'm being sarcastic, but maybe only halfway.
After all, El Reg has just named the companies at work here, so there's one round of free adverts. Surprised the tents are not slathered with banners.
wow maybe a CEO that isn't lost
What a change to get a CEO that understands where Sprint sits in the US wireless industry pecking order (at the bottom and falling farther behind.)
A breath of fresh air to get someone there that lists investing in the network as one of the top priorities. In the past it seems that they thought they could fix their crap network by pouring money into marketing and advertising.
Nobody has figured out how to jam the camera?
Where is the anti-glasshole technology? I thought it was possible to jam video cameras with infrared transmitters, and movie studios were doing it to thwart people who were taking a videocam into the theatre to pirate movies, videocams being sensitive to light just outside of the visible band.
Wouldn't it be possible to make a hat studded with IR LED's or something and have it generate a confusing IR field that would disrupt the Glass's camera? It would kind of be like wearing your own Glass disruption field. Or the entire bar could be fitted with some kind of IR jamming device (think super bright lamps with filters installed that only pass IR.)
This gets in the way of the "economic" solution
@Destroy: I completely agree.
Having the market set the price is exactly what makes this cheap in boring time periods, and then expensive but balanced in busy time periods. If some disaster happened (like terrorism, or a transit strike) then you would expect the prices to go sky-high initially, and those prices would motivate people to become suppliers, driving prices back down or at least dampening the increase. There would be a new equilibrium point, albeit at higher prices. And that would be right at the time that you needed the transport capacity the most. It costs the city practically nothing to add transit capacity via Uber (especially when compared to adding buses or trains.)
So with this price ceiling, all it will do is create scarcity as demand goes up but supply remains. Or people may even withdraw from the system so they can be completely independent. Nice job. Right exactly when you would want to have a fluid market for transport.
now lightbulbs need a firmware upgrade?
How in the world will we go about doing firmware upgrades to lightbulbs? Do the bulbs get their own upgrades, or is there an app that needs to be loaded on some other (higher functioning) device in order to push the upgrade.
Is this where the Internet - o - Things is going? You'll need a fiber optic link to the internet and a high usage cap just so all of your devices can stay up to date.
Lights off - "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that."
If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.
There is a spoof site at "Despair Inc" that rips off the "Successories" management stuff of a decade ago.
"Consulting: If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem."
Not that the consulting is the problem in this case, but that there is more money to be made playing along with the problem, than there is in actually speaking your mind and trying to fix stuff.
Most huge companies don't really want to fix things, they just want to perpetuate their golden silos of paper shuffling jobs.
sounds good, or is it?
At first glance I'm all for this, get me any access that isn't from one of the craptacular major providers. A little competition can go a very long way in terms of raising the bar on service or pricing, or both.
But on second thought, if this comes down to municipal/town doing the rollouts, then color me cynical. This will be another avenue to hire the mayor's brother in law, or neighbor, to do the deployment and network management, to nobody's benefit except a couple of cronies. My town completely screwed up a garbage contract, handing more profits to the garbage collection company, so it scares me how they might "manage" a broadband system.
Although there is probably already enough cronyism in the existing 3-player system, that what's the big deal of adding a 4th player?
VM PIN vs CLI
The idea of using the incoming IMEI and/or billing number ID will be hard to do. Yes those numbers are presented to the mobile operator network, but into a much different part of the network (billing system vs. call processing), and at a much different stage of the call setup. CLI may be handled in real-time, while billing records are not exactly handled in real-time.
The network has to allow you to dial in from remotely for the cases when you are roaming and your call to yourself would come in from outside the operator. This seems to be a convention the GSM-based carriers have arranged, as others have stated there are many networks where PIN is mandatory for every access.
About the only solution that I could see happening quickly is that if you are authenticated on the network (like home network, or home operator) that you could get straight into your voicemail. The other cases where the call comes from outside the network, would require a PIN for voicemail access. (Conceptuallly very similar to port tagging on the inbound trunks.) This will create lots of fun and confusion for all of the people (me included) who set a VM PIN years ago, but then find they can't get into their voicemail from the road the first time after this is enabled.
I would almost want more integrated into "hubs"
I have an old WP7.5 model, and it does do some pretty cool stuff with the communication history, matching up phone calls with SMS's, giving an overall view. I wish that it was more prominent in the phone as I stumble across it every now and then. It works great, especially when you've just had an SMS exchange with someone and you want to switch to a voice conversation.
not only a features... but a bug
This make an obvious demonstration of the benefits and problems with automatic "upgrades" delivered over the net, and without user intervention or control. I have heard of Nest thermostats being bricked automatically by updates in the past, with no ability to opt out of the upgrade loop. It upgrades itself and you only find out when it fails... and you come home to a cold house.
Now there will surely be people that bought the smoke alarm and considered this as a feature, but it is being removed. Sony didn't fare too well when they reduced functionality.
It would be good to include some of the server-side business and politics in the story.
For example, in the early days of the WWW, Netscape had a large market share in the web server market, and they did collect serious amounts of license fees. But... being an open standard, someone came along with a more open, more free webserver (Apache was one, may not have been the first.) And this probably cut off Netscape's revenue flows. Microsoft had one too that shipped with the OS's (IIS?), it helped enable things on the desktop but it was full of security holes IIRC. It would be interesting to know if Netscape made more revenues on the server or client side of the business.
So the punchline is that the disruptors got disrupted. That trend continues to this day.
Re: Now if they can get ports the other way
@Herby - I'm not sure that there are any WinPho apps worth porting to Android.
this would actually save Microsoft money in the long run
Nokia could save on the costs of development of the WP OS over the long run. And it doesn't appear that Microsoft is willing to put the money into their WP OS to create an ecosystem whatsoever.
I've had a Nokia WP (7.5) for over a year now, and when I first got it the thing seemed really promising... with the assumption that over time there would be improvements to the OS and that something, anything, would be done to the App Store (or Marketplace, whatever it is called.)
But now a year and a half later the app store is still crap. Windows Phone is completely ignored/overlooked by all of the major app creators.
Honestly there are some things that the phone does really well, but then the majority of the time it seems like it has been completely abandoned.
They might be able to refocus on cord-cutters
We had a tivo box in 2007 or so and loved it, then when the hardware died a couple of years ago we dumped them. Now we've suffered with the archaic cable box for too long and the introductory offer for the free box is over, so I picked up a refurbed one this week for $49 plus service.
I'm going to spend the next year trying to get the wife off of cable. Its all complete and total crap except for maybe one or two shows.
I am well aware that I could build my own HTPC that would also have DVR capabilities, but I have other hobbies that are more rewarding for me. It is continually on my wish list of things to do.
The Tivo boxes that can capture over the air signals can offer a pretty good value for a lot of people. I did that a year ago for my parents, and they love it. They get something like 25 channels OTA, and can stream netflix, etc. For them it has been perfect (they're too cheap to go for cable.)
The one thing that seems really retarded in this day and age is that they expect you to buy a separate streaming box AND separate service fees in order to stream out of the box to mobiles, etc in the home or on the internet. So many people go pick up slingboxes that don't need monthly fees. I think they're starting to roll those into their higher-end boxes.
why not bypass the wink parts and go straight to the Imp?
This looks like a service (wink or Quirky/whatever by GE) built on top of the Imp service? So what if you ditched the Quirky part and used Electric Imp directly instead?
Would that give you more or less software service for your hardware?
so everyone will get to pay then
If the family won't have to pay, then the mobile company will eat it then, right?
Hmm, only then the mobile operator will spread those costs across ALL customers. You don't believe for a second that they're going to pay it themselves do you?
Also an unintended consequence - if someone loses their phone there will not be much incentive to call in to report it stolen, and thieves will be able to rack up more calls (driving up the stolen phone costs to the operator, that we'll all pay indirectly.)
It is pretty surprising that all of the sources are set up to play through the crappiest speakers in the house.
I think someone has figured out how to take audio into a Raspberry Pi, grab it and stream it across a network. It isn't going to be compatible with your Sonos setup but will be cheap at the tradeoff that you will probably have hours of "enjoyment" tinkering with it.
I've been searching for a cheap alternative to the Sonos setup, and think there may be a solution in a Raspberry Pi, with open source slimplayer/squeezebox clients. Server may not be as beautiful but it is possible to sync clients together.
Similar thing just happened in Chicago
The Chicago Transit Authority is in the throes of its changeover to a farecard type system. Only it isn't working out very well. I heard on the TV this morning that the system went belly-up yesterday, and 50,000 riders were given free access during rush hour.
Internet of Things isn't just a new board formfactor
The "Internet of Things" will need to be small, low power, and LOW COST boards.
It seems that Intel is only able to respin PC board form factors - what is it now after ATX, mini-ATX, etc?
About the only thing left for Intel is to be those servers that get hooked to the back of TV's for information displays and animated advertising, but even then there are different boxes that can do it for much less.
there is still a problem here
TMO, with their general lack of coverage outside of any major metropolitan area, is not a wireless operator that an enterprise will tolerate. Being reachable and in wireless coverage is important to businesses, they know what makes their revenues flow, and so they're going to be on Verizon for coverage, or ATT for, dunno, their iPhones. TMO isn't enterprise-grade. Being a disruptor and cutting the monthly costs doesn't fix spotty coverage. Businesses can't afford to save money with TMO.
Now, if TMO opened up roaming WITHIN the US, so that I could use ATT or anyone else for coverage while driving down the interstate highways, then maybe they would be worth using.
Don't believe me? Check opensignal, and get outside of any city and see what sort of coverage they have.
Brewing generates a ton of CO2
As the yeast consume the sugars they throw off alcohol and a lot of carbon dioxide. It doesn't seem like they would want much more CO2 onboard, loading down the life support systems.
Re: Mine cost about £100
Those atomic clocks only check in at night, supposedly when the atmospheric conditions are best for the signal propagation. I assume that as a 10 dollar clock it isn't disciplining the oscillator and is only resetting the time once per day.
The timing signal itself is blindingly simple, as an analog radio transmission carrying an audio signal. If you have a shortwave radio you can pick them up and decode the ticking with your ears.
Re: Expensive toy, at best.
I think you'll find that Cesium oscillators are already used as timebases in many "servers", especially for telecom equipment. LTE needs or will need it (especially LTE-Advanced) for very precise timing synchronization (sites that are neighbors must be within 1.5 microseconds for some iterations of LTE-A.)
NTP is fine for logfiles and timestamps but isn't going to get you that close.
Re: Credit where credits due
@BeerTokens - I completely agree. A person can make great beer with around $100 of equipment. $250 will get you pretty far into all-grain. The beer from this machine isn't going to to be 15 times better than that.
My take on this is that it's a gadget that moneyed folk will buy for bragging rights. First big warning sign is that you can personalize it or customize the color or startup screen. And so for the people that buy these as a home-fashion accessory, the novelty will wear off quickly. Then it might be time to find one on the second-hand market.
Re: Only brews beer up to 3.7% ABV
I always understood "proof" to be determined so that "100 proof" was the point of flammability. 50% alcohol by volume in a liquid is what it takes to set said mix on fire.
You can find in some places "Bacardi 151" rum that is 151 proof, or roughly 75% alcohol. Used to make many different kinds of flaming shot drinks. The shot is often set on fire and served up or dumped into another mixer for effect.
hard to disrupt your own nice business
It is always very dangerous to handcuff yourself to your customers, and obey them completely. You're still handcuffed to them as they drive off a cliff when business shifts. Sometimes you ride over the cliff with them (if their business is tanking), other times they'll bail at the last second and leave you to go on your own.
In this case it was the CIO's that forbade cameras and social networking, etc., and that loved Blackberry's management functions. In previous iterations of IT disruption (Macs in the workforce, personal devices) management was able to block users from getting their way. But the shiny iThings are the Trojan horse that enters the company through the corner office, and that's when the walls fall down.
turnabout is fair play
Poaching employees is something that RIMM did to Motorola a while ago. Only now if Mot/Goog does it they won't call it poaching, as Mot will just be picking up talent on the street.
can they prove these save money?
Relative has one of the whizzy "nest" thermostats that are all about Industrial Design. And every 5 minutes he's on the thing turning it up or turning it down via his fondleslab.
I can't imagine that saves much money over the long run as all he's doing is fighting with the expensive "technology" <cough> iDesign <cough> inside.
Re: How do you measure curved TV size?
Sony has a demo setup for a car racing game at their Tokyo flagship showroom/store in Ginza. Each player could only see their car on the course, and got a full screen view as well. It is like the one screen is serving up two games at the same time. Polarized glasses are used to make it work.
It was much more impressive than the half-screen or split screens that one usually gets in head-to-head games. There was no leak-through from the other person's screen either. Although since each person gets their own view from the one screen you don't get the same feeling of playing alongside someone.
will wait to see how this plays out
There have already been some good concerns posted, but the part that I picked up on was that you'd have to log into the guest hotspots with your Comcast login/password while you're "roaming". Maybe that will give them the ability to track usage whether you are home or away.
That would seem to close the "guest" loophole where you can log into your own network as guest and get around usage caps etc. But then it also provides a lot of incentive to M-i-M and harvest other user credentials. This would be great as you will have all of the info you need handed to you, on your own network.
Re: Question.. on 4G...and beyond...
@Jonny - what you are thinking about is certainly being worked on.
The crux of the problem is in defining the "best connection". Right now the "best connection" is based on a rudimentary list of preferrred networks that the mobile connects to them when it sees them.
You can guess that there are some tradeoffs to that network selection method, like connecting to the overloaded airport WiFi network when there are other network options that may have better end-to-end throughput. The networks don't provide a way for the client devices (which will be many-band, many-technology) to discover the capacity/capabilities of the network. There were some improvements to WiFi in the works to help.
another way to fix the contactless card?
I bet that 5 seconds in the microwave oven would take care of the contactless portion of the card (and would be less damaging to the physical card, only frying the electronics inside.
@Annihilator: check out crashplan. I use it to back up my parent's PC's across the miles, about 165 miles away. The software has built-in peer-to-peer backup, as well as cloudy options.
wish it was that easy
I agree with your assessment and I feel your pain - "charge an additional fee for something which makes their product work properly". But the competitive situation is that generally purchasers drive the price down, and cause upsell opportunities. Also - in some cases (not sure about EMC) these products might be 3rd party tools that were picked up along the way and used to be separate software sales. Or they are services that in theory you could do yourself, or you could pay a specialist to take care of in less time (at a cost.)
I'm not trying to defend the vendors, but from being on a vendor's side customers will drag out that tired old saw for every single thing the vendor might have. And within the vendor's business some things have offsets (self-installing hardware = less need for professional services.) Also, if you make the equipment run by itself, then you'll need fewer people to operate it (and then your customer's people will get nervous as they smell possible layoffs coming.)
Maybe the way to grasp what the customers are saying is that their overall solution cost is high, so maybe there is another creative way to reduce their total overall cost?
min wage is where it will be
Lately it seems that these ideas turn the shop into a showroom where you then have to order what you really want. The workers in there are only there to keep you from swiping the display models. No more, no less. They're incapable of doing anything else.
thought sams/walmart attempted to do this
I thought WalMart and Sam's club attempted to start their own credit card, or maybe their own credit card processing company a few years back. Trying to crush the fees from visa or mc I thought. They bailed on the idea though, it was probably enough to scare the hell out of them, and got them to lower their fees to WalMart.
have i seen this before?
Seems like some of the Wired writers proclaimed years ago that on-demand printing was going to revolutionize bookstores. But that hasn't exactly happened now, has it? And now they're saying the same thing for manufacturing? Definitely a sexy idea, one that is good enough to engage your imagination of what could be (and for you to get swept away in the romance of it.)
Same idea with 3D printing - sell the plans for anything online, you call the nearest shop and have them print one out for you. Although e-publishing has done away with the printed page, there surely seems to be more than that as factors. I'll guess that the biggest competition to 3D printing will be cheap shipping...from China.
I also have a SamKnows whitebox here on the left side of the pond. Initially had it connected between the wired-only router (m0n0wall) and the rest of the network including a wifi AP. It worked fine for a while. Then it seemed to lose the plot, dropping the connection to the internet for everything inside my house wired and wireless. Started getting into weekly reboots where none were required before.
Rearranging the network topology only seemed to make it worse. The thing that seems to work is a 5-port switch sitting between the router, wireless AP, wired branches, and the SamKnows box. In theory Sam doesn't get to see the traffic so that it could test during the quiet periods, but so far all that happens is a Netflix loss of video once every couple hours.
I also run MRTG stats on the firewall, and hacked up a script to tell me what I've consumed in the past 30 days. It looks like the box pulls about 50 GB a month, and the sampling periodicity has varied in the year that I've had it.
How many drives in a fortnight? Or in a leap year?
You've made so many unit conversions, but then so many still remain.
I think the current mobile manufacturers already have this patented.
Wife has a Huawei android handset. That thing gets OTA updates, officially signed and everything. That malware that gets installed manages to drop calls, lock up, shut itself off, reboot randomly. So much that I'm wondering why a haxor would want to mess with it (won't even stay up long enough to be useful.)
What do hackers think they can do... make it shut down more than it already does????
My other instinct is to ask "if the manufacturers can't even figure out how to write software, then how is a hacker going to do it?", but I think the answer there is that the manufacturers only really bother on the hardware, and software is an afterthought. So virtually anyone else could do better. Maybe they'll fix bugs instead?
Re: When I used to teach English in China
We had a coworker from Russia that did something similar to try to capture the strength of slang and swear-words in English, so that he could map the correct word into the correct context.
I learned a lot about English that year, having to figure out the language enough myself (native English speaker) so that I could explain it to him.
Imagine what the network would cost if they charged for it
You have to admit, the estimated costs to install ($115k) and operate ($45k) the network are pretty low. Sure not as cheap as 3 DSL lines and 3 SOHO routers, but nowhere near what companies were quoting back in the years of muni-WiFi.
Can you imagine what kinds of operational overheads and costs would come with having to create billing, authentication, support center (including a way to give credit to users who pay but can't get connected), and roaming agreements and transfer payment schemes and revenue sharing, and on and on...
what about traffic data
So here is an item that I've yet to see compared between iOS and Android and Windows Phone - the amount and quality of the traffic data that is displayed.
I got a windows phone (for work, they foisted it on me, not my choice) and I noticed that very few roads have traffic information. I assume that since nobody else has the phones, that Bing Maps isn't getting much data fed to it. Likewise iOS maps would have a similar issue. The lack of data comes down to a lack of handsets reporting their locations. Were there any complaints about Apple maps and their traffic data?
When I first got the phone I was sitting parked, stopped in traffic on what is usually a very busy street. Whip open WinPhone Maps and there was no data on the road... except to show a red line behind me. Does that mean to tell me that I am the only person on that road with a windows phone? A sample size of one??
they should have noticed that something was wrong
I say - they should have known that something was wrong when they noticed that there were people in the store. Not employees mind you, but people that might be mistaken for customers.
Maybe Disney is waking up?
We subscribe to Netflix, and if Disney won't play, that's fine with me. I'll just watch something else. So Disney wins in the immediate term, but loses in the long run. Maybe they are starting to realize that a buyer's market is emerging here for content?
good analysis, but something doesn't add up
I read somewhere that the deal was for the spectrum and subscribers, but not for the equipment (or real estate.)
I wonder what US Cellular could possibly do with all of that equipment. Maybe deploy to their remaining markets.
It seems that Sprint will pay them to keep the network running for a while, until Sprint can get the subscribers moved into their spectrum (as they're all CDMA/EVDO mobiles.) But then Sprint would go deploy new CDMA (in the case of capacity needs) or LTE equipment in existing Sprint site locations?
had my turn with that a few years back
We had opened a small branch/field office and had a copier. It would do D-sized paper (11x17) but there was no paper tray other than a tray hanging off the side. We had a lot of those bigger things to copy so we loaded up the external tray. It proceeded to tear the machine apart inside.
So we call the printer repair guy out, he crawls into the machine up to his waist to replace a twisted piece of metal bar. Then he proceeds to yell at us something along the lines of "YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU PUT PAPER INTO THIS MACHINE!?!?!?!". My colleague and I were speechless, after all a printer is meant to consume paper, isn't it? We told him it seemed like a bad design if putting paper INTO A COPIER ruined said copier.
We nearly threw him down the stairs, but then figured it would be much more fun to keep feeding paper into it, and seeing him every week to come back around to fix it.
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