Random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy, published every other day.

Tag: business Page 1 of 2

There’s no Lash like a Backlash

I am starting to think that it really is the bigots’ last stand.  Which certainly has the potential to get ugly – as well-armed as they are.  Still, things do seem to be moving in the right direction.

First off, Franklin Graham moved his money out of that gay-smooching bank, Wells Fargo, and right into BB&T which is specifically, exclusively for manly men and… oops.  Looks like his new bank has a nice, high rating from the HRC and is a Platinum Sponsor of Miami Beach Gay Pride.  I hate moving banks because it’s such a hassle, so I am relishing Frankie having to do it twice in one month.  Or maybe, in North Carolina where he lives, they have a branch that promises to offset anything progressive the rest of the company does by buying kegs for the KKK rallies.  He’d be down with that, wouldn’t he?

So now that you’re smiling at that, be prepared for a warm glow to spread.  According to this article in today’s NY Times, the effect of Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” act (or, as I like to call it, “Bigotry is OK if You Wave a Bible Around” act) is maybe not what the troglodytes Republicans who worked to pass it intended.   In fact, as Pride Week opens in Indiana, support is greater this year than ever: and both from the corporate world and from straight allies.  Quoth the Times: “’We hate that we had to go through that,’ said Chris Morehead, president of Indy Pride Inc., a local gay rights group that organized this week’s events. ‘But on the back side of it, we saw support from places we never imagined.’”

I hope Gov. Pence is sharing in the warm glow.

Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein for the NY Times

In it for the Money

As I wrote earlier, the typical Republican presidential candidate has no real hope of getting the nomination, let alone the Presidency.

But this article from the Wall Street Journal makes it plain that they are still quite rational to pretend.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and his wife, Candy, earned between $8.9 million and $27 million in a recent 16-month period, largely fueled by book royalties, speaking engagements and Mr. Carson’s service on the board of directors for two big companies.

When it’s worth this kind of money just to be this TEA party kind of famous, you’d be kind of crazy not to.
Not that Carson isn’t a few other kinds of crazy.

Please Don’t Leave a Message At the Beep

I don’t know exactly how long – at least eight years now – but I have been a hater of voice mail for quite a while.

Here’s the breakdown of ways that exist to reach me, in decreasing order of efficiency for you:

  1. Call my smartphone
  2. Text me at my smartphone
  3. Email (any)
  4. Call my desk line at work
  5. Call my Google Voice number (it’s in my profile)
  6. Text me at Google Voice
  7. Google +mention me  
  8. @mention me in Ingress (I’m Kahomono there)
  9. Message or mention me on Facebook (you can, but I wish you wouldn’t)
  10. @mention me on Slack (I’m Kahomono there also but I only look at it a few times a week)
  11. Google Hangouts (the planets really need to align for me to see this in time to act on it)
  12. Snail mail
  13. Find me and say Hi!

If you call my Google Voice number, you will have to leave a voice mail… BUT… it will be transcribed by Google and emailed to me, so I will read it and then respond.  (So, enunciate!)

If, however, you leave a voicemail at my smartphone or desk line, what I have to do is call another place that acts as a repository of your recorded voice for me to hear in order to know that you called.   This is 98% of what I have ever learned from a voice mail: Joe Bloggs called me and wants to talk to me, he wishes I would call him so I can leave him a voice mail telling him that I am agreeable about talking to him too, and maybe someday we’ll get to do that before the whole issue we want to talk about is moot. It’s a coin-flip whether that happens or not, by the way.

You know that my smartphone has caller-ID.  So does my desk line.  The phone companies don’t even get to charge for that anymore, it’s just expected.  And both my phones have visual indicators that I missed your call.  If I missed your call it’s plain that you want to talk to me, and I should call you back.  Why would you reiterate this in a voice recording?

On the other hand if you have anything to tell me in a voicemail that goes beyond “call me!” it’s more accurate and efficient for both of us if you would type it into an email or any of the other message formats… choose your favorite.

I was triggered to this rant by the note in the WSJ about JP Morgan Chase saving $3.2M by eliminating voice mail for over half its employees.  I would love love love if my employer did the same!  I can assure them, in my case at least, it adds no value.

Sony: The Gift that Keeps On Giving

As you may recall, late last fall, Sony Pictures Entertainment acknowledged that their entire IT infrastructure had been severely breached.  At the time, the attackers were announced to be the North Koreans.  But serious analysis absent political axes to grind has put that conclusion in doubt, to say the least.  More evidence points to the actions of an unhappy employee/former employee and roughly half a dozen accomplices.

One of the things that the attackers did was release a huge cache of internal emails, emails that did not put anyone from within Sony in the best light.  Who among us can say that the release of all our emails would treat us much better?  Still, these were dumped onto public sites, e.g., PasteBin.

Sony’s immediate response was to try to shut down the press from covering this aspect of the situation by sending legal-ish letters to all major media outlets, claiming that just because they were public didn’t mean that they could be reported.  To understand how this is consistent with the First Amendment, I think you need a law degree and a fat paycheck from Sony.  Needless to say, the folks at WikiLeaks were not impressed.  They spent the next few months building everything that was released into a searchable archive.  You can read about that site they just opened here.

Sony’s well-compensated lawyers have jumped right back into the fray, of course.  Unable to do anything about the WikiLeaks site itself, they have once again taken their, um, peculiar understanding of Freedom of the Press to the medium of threatening letters directed at the press (sample here).

The website TechDirt received one of these letters, and wrote about that fact (coverage).  Yeah, gossip about Julia Roberts is not truly newsworthy but there’s plenty in those emails that is.  It’s worth noting that one of two Investigative Reporting Pulitzer Prizes just given out went to Eric Lipton, who also didn’t think much of Sony’s legal theory in this matter.  Lipton used whatever he needed from that treasure trove.  TechDirt has now made a formal response to Sony, which is rather amusing.

I know Sony likes when their work product makes us want to get popcorn and settle in, but I don’t think this is what they had in mind.


So if the title made you immediately think of those scruffy, hard-working characters who set up and take down touring concerts, welcome to the club.  But that’s not what this post is about, as you may

notice by the business and security tags I have given it.

Roadie is a start-up whose tagline is, “Discover the invisible shipping network.”  The idea is, there are 250 million private vehicle trips per day, with a billion square feet of otherwise-unused cargo space.  Some of them could be matched up peer-peer and make everyone happier.  I read this Buzzfeed article and started to think like a hacker… how would I break this, if I were evil?

Disclaimer: Some of these things are illegal.  Some of them are immoral.  Roadie may well have already thought to include countermeasures against some that they would not, for good reason, publicize.

An obvious first one is, I tell Roadie I want to send, let’s say, a stand mixer to my buddy in Harrisburg who’s taking up baking.  The driver and I meet, I give her a neatly taped-up Kitchen-Aid box that weighs about 35 pounds.  She drives it from Rochester to Harrisburg and delivers it uneventfully to Bob.  It’s a good thing she’s a mild-mannered driver in an inconspicuous Chevy because she just delivered 15 Kg of high-quality weed across state lines.  Since Bob and I both used burner phones to set up the endpoints of the transaction, Roadie will not be of much help identifying anyone but the innocent driver.

Never mind legal trouble, some cargoes can be just plain trouble.  Roadie has a list of restricted items and materials similar to the one you see at the post office, but it’s not clear how this can be enforced.  Sealed boxes may be opened by postal inspectors at random but Roadie drivers should not be similarly empowered.  Otherwise, the prospect of a Roadie driver pawing through the stuff being delivered might be seriously off-putting to prospective shippers.

For an even more obvious ploy, shipping an item with a substantial declared value opens up Roadie to all kinds of insurance issues, especially given the informality of the hand-offs at either end of the trip.

Receivers and senders are going to be strangers to the drivers, and strangers are terrifying, in our cable-news-fear-mongered society.  To this end, Roadie has wisely teamed up with Waffle House to create a ready-made network of public meetup spots for exchanges.  More safety measures to protect Roadie and its drivers are needed, and as I mentioned above, some may already exist.

I expect Roadie to attract the same kind of opposition to its business model as the hotel and taxi industries are already lavishing on Airbnb, Uber and Lyft.  To some extent, I like seeing old crufty business models being disrupted.  However, a certain amount of what looks like fluff in those models really does protect the participants and the public.  We have a baby and a tub of bathwater here; some care is advisable.


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