Blogging since 1998. By David Wertheimer

Month: March 2008 (Page 1 of 2)


Ripple effects, the story of my newly replaced iPhone, on the Ai blog.
My feed hasn’t posted here the last few days, a glitch I need to investigate. It’s a good excuse for me to remind my less geeked-out readers (hi, Mom!) of the numerous places you can find me online. In 2008 it’s not enough to blog… you also have to
twitter: sporadic, text-message-length observations and wisecracks
…be this is where I store links I find interesting, often with comments (the “links for” posts on this blog come from here)
have a second blog: AIAIO, the Ai company blog, where I tag-team with Loren Davie, our director of technology
flickr: an assortment of photos, usually one-offs taken by my phone
At some point I’ll harness the proper use of FriendFeed and Tumblr and get everything in one place. In the meantime, feel free to explore and follow along.

American values

What a great quote from AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson: “If I had a business that half the product we turned out was defective or you couldn’t put into the marketplace, I would shut that business down.”
Swallow hard, then think about what Stephenson is citing: American high school graduation rates. He says the labor pool is so thin that AT&T has been unable to fill job vacancies with Americans, forcing the businesses to remain in India for staffing purposes.
The facts seem borderline absurd, but a few minutes of research reveals it’s even worse than it seems. Some studies quote America’s nationwide high school graduation rate at just 71 percent, and the state of Georgia barely graduates half its students, like Stephenson says. Statewide! One town falling below 50% is bad; this is an entire state at 54%. Several cities, like Cleveland, barely get above 25%.
Even if this isn’t fully accurate, it’s awfully dire. Americans underappreciating eduation is nothing new. But when American companies have to outsource their labor to maintain quality, not just save costs, the signs point to a far more serious situation.

Slippery slope

December 14, 2006: New JetBlue Airplane Configuration. “JetBlue will offer at least 36-inch pitch in rows 1-11, and 34-inch pitch in rows 12-25.” Me, commenting on “Very nice, but what will happen to JetBlue’s ‘sit in back, get more legroom’ come-on?”
March 19, 2008: JetBlue to Charge $10 to $20 for Legroom. “The new seats — situated in rows two through five and in emergency exit rows 10 and 11 — will provide 38 inches of pitch.”
Between this and the airline’s new refundable-business-fare policies, we have the answer: premium economy. (UpgradeTravel predicted this last year, and they’re exactly right.)
The slippery slopes here are numerous. For one thing, JetBlue is getting more and more traditional; it’s only a matter of time before they shoehorn an extra row or two back into the cabin, killing their industry-leading seat pitch. For another, those “$10-20” legroom seats will quickly cost $50 or more each way, in much the same manner as JetBlue’s fares quickly went from low-cost-carrier range to $399-each-way-to-Florida-at-Christmas levels, sometimes costing more than American and Continental.
Once upon a time I was a JetBlue shareholder. I always enjoy the time I spend on their planes, particularly when compared with other domestic airlines. But it’s hard to root for the clever underdog when the innovations are increasingly pulling them into the realm of same-old, same-old.

763 songs, 1 amazing compilation

Six-Word Reviews of 763 SXSW Mp3s on The Morning News proves that Paul Ford is an insane, overcommitted, inspired genius.
It is as it says: as many music files as Paul could drum up from this year’s South by Southwest festival, reviewed in exactly six words. (The six-word write-up, if you hadn’t heard, is a hot trend right now.)
The writeups are the genuis part.
“Rocks like a dad-bought Camaro.”
“Soft pink vagina frosted jazz cupcakes.”
“The pinnacle of cock-rock horseshit.”
“You can love Neko Case too much.”
The insane, inspired, and overcommitted part is, well, the rest of it. Every band he could find, alphabetized, chronicled, linked to two places, reviewed and rated on a 5-star scale. Then, because it’s Paul, there are the pull-outs: more than a dozen charts, graphs, summaries and observations. Which makes the chart more palatable and, no doubt, kept the research interesting, too.
I have much work ahead of me just digesting the page. Can barely fathom the work–by one man–that went into it. But then this is the same guy who more or less singlehandedly scanned 150 years of Harper’s magazine and cleaned up the OCR for a web archive, so I’m not surprised. Just blinking a lot. Great, great stuff.

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