January, 2005

Friday, January 28, 2005

Dethroning King Gillette: "So to make more money from the songs than from the iPods they'd have to sell 375+ songs per iPod. Apple has sold 250 million songs to date and has sold 10 million iPods. That is 25 songs per iPod, not 375+. How long does a digital song last? If the customer is careful, it should last effectively forever. How long will an iPod last? The life expectancy of a mobile phone is 18 months and the life expectancy of a PC is 3-5 years. I'm guessing the life expectancy of an iPod will be something in-between, on the order of three years. That means Apple can expect to make the profit equivalent of 375 songs every three years from selling a new iPod to each old customer."

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Rethinking Recounts: "Too many people understand that a reprint is not a recount, and the number will only grow. Even in the absence of a voter-verified paper audit trail, there are steps officials can take to help verify an election, including counting from the redundant memory banks, examining the audit logs, and conducting calibration tests. These are bare-minimum safeguards against machine error and vote-tampering, and should be part of the recount process even for machines with paper trails."

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Violent past of Milky Way's black hole revealed: "He adds that the fireworks are sure to kick off again at some point in the future, although when is a mystery."

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Monday, January 24, 2005

Web Sites Building Better Brand Loyalty Than Physical Stores: "Some 38% of shoppers use the Web as their primary shopping research tool, compared with 41% who rely on stores for their research. In the electronics/computers and toys/books/games categories, online research plays an even greater role, with nearly half of shoppers doing their research online. Despite the inferior satisfaction they experience in stores, 86% of shoppers still prefer to make their purchases there, while just 14% purchase online. Even among the 38% who rely more on online research, 71% choose to complete their purchases in a physical store."

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Gladiators fought for thrills, not kills

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Mind games: "People tend much to prefer, say, $100 now to $115 next week, but they are indifferent between $100 a year from now and $115 in a year and a week. In one recent experiment, noted in our science section on October 30th, Mr Laibson and others found that the brain's response to short-term riches (in this case, gift certificates of $15 or $20) occurs largely in the limbic system, a region that governs emotion. By contrast, the prospect of rewards farther into the future triggers the prefrontal cortex, which is often associated with reason and calculation."

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Friday, January 21, 2005

Visions of Ancient Night Sky Were Hiding in Plain Sight for Centuries: "The sculpture offers hints that it may have serious scientific underpinnings. The globe has horizontal lines for the Equator, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and the Arctic and Antarctic Circles. An angled circle marks the ecliptic, the plane defined by the orbits of the planets, and vertical lines mark colures, the equivalent of lines of longitude on a map of the Earth."

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Together in electric dreams: "But its greatest usefulness might be, as Smith says, in 'helping with that all too frequent record company problem - a band that has written an album without any hits on it. Using the technology they might be able to write the radio-friendly songs required for the album release.'"

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Gene clue to HIV origin in humans: "The scientists say their work indicates that HIV would not have become established in the human population if mankind carried the same version of the gene found in rhesus monkeys."

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Saturday, January 15, 2005

Titan Calling: "The situation would be like trying to watch a scrambled TV channel—the TV's tuned in fine, but you still can't make out the picture. Alenia Spazio wasn't alone in missing the impact Doppler shift would have on the decoder. All the design reviews of the communications link, including those conducted with NASA participation, also failed to notice the error that would threaten to turn Huygens's moment of glory into an embarrassing failure. Alenia Spazio's insistence on confidentiality may have played a role in this oversight. NASA reviewers were never given the specs of the receiver. As JPL's Mitchell explained to Spectrum, 'Alenia Spazio considered JPL to be a competitor and treated the radio design as proprietary data.'"

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Barry L. Ritholtz likes the iPod shuffle: "Its the new radio."

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Friday, January 14, 2005

We've Created a Monster!: "As acquisitions director for Sci Fi, Cannella was screening hundreds of films a year. His conclusion: He and his number-crunching friends could do better. 'You would have a group of kids out in the woods and they'd conjure up a demon, and the demon would rip the head off three of the kids, and then there'd be opening credits. I'd be sitting there thinking, All right, this is going to be good! But then there would be 40 minutes of people going around wondering what happened. I'm saying, Hey, schmuck, there's a demon in the woods. We saw it in the first three minutes!'"

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Help Me Help You: "Microsoft has to be envious and annoyed by the fact Symantec and others get more recurring revenue from Windows than Microsoft does."

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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Sleepy Medical Interns Called a Road Hazard : "Studies have shown that being awake for 21 hours impairs drivers as much as having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08, which is the legal limit for noncommercial drivers in the U.S., said Dennis Wylie, a consultant who analyzes human factors in motor vehicle operation and wrote an editorial accompanying today's study. 'It stands to reason that working for 32 hours would be worse,' Wylie said. But paring back the 80-hour work week would translate into longer residency programs if doctors are to complete the same amount of overall training, said Peter Carmel, a neurosurgeon and trustee of the American Medical Assn." - Question: would you rather have someone who completed 80 hours of training while so tired they couldn't drive, or who completed 50 hours of training they could actually remember later? Bonus question: given that studies show the highest factor in malpractice suits is actually malpractice, would a desire to cut down on malpractice claims be better served by tort reform, or by medical labor reform?

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Lucky or Smart: "Working with the media was the most important job I had at Tripod. Period. Twenty-four-year-old Bo Peabody, with his hip Internet company in the mountains, was a perfectly packaged pied piper for the story of the decade. I was not only Tripod's poster child, I was shilling the whole goddamn Internet. And when it came to promoting these two things, the only self-respecting thing I ever did was turn down an interview on Montel. How noble."

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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Women like men who like cats: "Given their choice of characterizing their cat as a good friend, a child, a baby or a partner, men chose good friend (aww), while women said they considered their cats either a child or a baby. And men chose a cat's 'independent spirit' as the animal's most desirable trait, while women thought that trait was a cat's least desirable trait."

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Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth: "Their roommates' ratings, however, told a different story. For four of the five interpersonal skills surveyed, the correlation with self-esteem dropped to near zero. The only one that remained statistically significant was with the subjects' ability to initiate new social contacts and friendships."

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Young Cell Users Rack Up Debt, a Message at a Time: "'Before I started using it, it seemed like a really ridiculous way to communicate,' said Emily Seife, a junior at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. 'But then it became a way to send a funny one-liner to a friend.'"

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The Zen of Jeff Bezos: "About three years ago we stopped doing television advertising. We did a 15-month-long test of TV advertising in two markets - Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis - to see how much it drove our sales. And it worked, but not as much as the kind of price elasticity we knew we could get from taking those ad dollars and giving them back to consumers. So we put all that money into lower product prices and free shipping. That has significantly accelerated the growth of our business."

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Robin Bordoli has some good thoughts on the current financial model of mobile carriers -- MVNOs - changing the economic landscape for wireless carriers: "This average subscriber then generates ~$50 ARPU for a little over 2 years based on current churn levels.  If you generously assume a 50% EBITDA contribution margin then the NPV of this customer is around $200. [...] So all this manic M&A activity is valuing these subscribers at an order of magnitude higher than the discounted value of the cashflow they will generate.  Stop and think about this for a moment.  This is a $100 billion industry that is shuffling deckchairs on the titanic."

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Classical music and social control: "When the targets are unused to strings and woodwind, Mozart will be sufficient. But for the more musically literate vandal, an atonal barrage probably works better. Mr North tried tormenting Leicester's students with what he describes as ‘computer-game music’ in the union bar. It cleared the place."

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

#1: The Grey Album. EW's David Browne names 2004's 10 best albums: "Yet far from being a wack job, The Grey Album — a free download before the Beatles' reps not surprisingly put a halt to it — is the ultimate artistic validation of technology and the mash-up."

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

@U2 interviews the band: "We're not endorsing a product we're embarrassed about -- we use it the iPod, we like it, it's helping us and other musicians to get paid for their wares. Ninety per cent of people will pay for downloads. Apple and Steve Jobs are saving music for the future. It won't be Universal, EMI or Sony running record companies in 10 years' time -- it will be Apple and telephone companies."

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Official: No laser, terrorism link: "Earlier, law enforcement officials speaking to CNN noted that the recent 'flurry' of laser incidents followed national news reports on the topic, and it's likely the reports prompted some 'experimentation' by individuals."

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Monday, January 03, 2005

The Economist has a brief overview of Einstein's work, starting 100 years ago.

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The Penny-Wise Aren't Foolish Anymore: "With the help of a little micropayment technology, purchases of cups of coffee at Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's Happy Meals, time at parking meters, and junk food at vending machines can all be conducted (profitably) with plastic."

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Sunday, January 02, 2005

Endangered languages: "When it comes to vocabulary, the story about the Eskimos' many words for snow, to match the many varieties they encounter, is well known. It is also wrong, according to Andrew Dalby in his book ‘Language in Danger’. Inuit does have quite a range of different words for snow, but so, for example, does English: snow, sleet, slush and so on. The total is about the same, but the Inuit words make different distinctions from the English ones, such as ‘snow on the ground’, ‘falling snow’ or ‘drifting snow’. However, the point of the story remains valid: each language reflects its users' particular needs and concerns."

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The Shadow Internet: "In fact, Forest believes the scene will eventually go legit, and he's even started a company, called Jun Group, that uses the topsites to promote movies, musicians, and TV shows. 'The topsites don't care where their files come from, as long as no one else has them,' he says. Last summer Jun Group dropped a collection of live videos and MP3s from Steve Winwood on the topsites. 'We got 2.9 million downloads,' says Forest, 'and album sales took off.'"

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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Quake May Have Made Earth Wobble--US Scientists: "When one huge tectonic plate beneath the Indian Ocean was forced below the edge of another 'it had the effect of making the Earth more compact and spinning faster,' Gross said."

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Program Coaxes Hospitals to See Treatments Under Their Noses: "'We tried to come up with a standardized order set,' with all the measures that Medicare was asking about, Dr. Gross said. 'But the doctors didn't want to use the sheet,' insisting they would just remember those items. Then they forgot."

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Ever higher society, ever harder to ascend: "Members of the American elite live in an intensely competitive universe. As children, they are ferried from piano lessons to ballet lessons to early-reading classes. As adolescents, they cram in as much after-school coaching as possible. As students, they compete to get into the best graduate schools. As young professionals, they burn the midnight oil for their employers. And, as parents, they agonise about getting their children into the best universities. It is hard for such people to imagine that America is anything but a meritocracy: their lives are a perpetual competition. Yet it is a competition among people very much like themselves—the offspring of a tiny slither of society—rather than among the full range of talents that the country has to offer."

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