Blogging since 1998. By David Wertheimer

Month: July 2010

Translation of an article of comment spam submitted to an Ideapad blog post in German

Moin Moin! How are you you? I have a fun toy for
Young people searched for your order. Hurrah! I really exactly,
what I was looking so long at the following from a dedicated
Author operated Web site. The Internet Web Site remote
discounted capital ships, harbor tugs and flattop.
The remote-controlled boats are gifts, you who at any time
should watch! So quickly in order: remote-controlled boat

(Translation via Google Translate. Also: I think it’s about time I turned off comments for good.)

Apple to iPhone 4 critics: ‘shut the fuck up’

That’s the gist of Steve Jobs’s hastily arranged and moderately defensive iPhone press conference today discussing the antenna-finger-reception issue.
There’s nothing press-conference-worthy about the issue, really, other than the fuss that’s being made. Apple felt the need to respond to its critics, which, I suspect, has more than a little to do with Consumer Reports’ product damnation earlier this week. Stodgy as it may seem, CU wields a lot of influence, as evidenced by its recent safety warning on the Lexus GX460, which forced Toyota to immediately suspend its sales. (Disclosure: I am a subscriber.)
Apple’s sales are a combination of its near-flawless execution and the halo of respect and admiration the company receives for its products. With the iPhone 4, Apple wound up with a) a tangibly flawed product, whether it wants to admit it or not, however minor it may be; and b) the potential loss of some of that all-important respect and admiration. Apple had to try and remind people of its general excellence and plug the hole in the proverbial dyke.
Let’s analyze the specifics of the “solution,” then, which has been cited as potentially costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars. Apple will give away free bumpers to all its iPhone 4 customers. This has an opportunity cost of $87 million, given Apple’s $29 price point versus the three million phones already sold.
Seriously, though: that bumper’s $29 ask is laughable. It’s a molded plastic ring. A lay consumer can buy full-size iPhone cases for $1.50 for as few as 30 pieces in bulk. What do you think Apple’s wholesale cost is for three million, sourced directly from the manufacturer? Thirty cents? Maybe less?
At $0.30 per case, Apple’s big giveaway will cost the company $900,000 for the first three million, plus overhead. Given that Apple has brought in at least $600 million in revenue (probably a lot more) on those three million iPhone 4s, nine hundred grand seems like a pretty painless repair. (As an Apple shareholder, I should note that this pleases me.)
The iPhone 4 remains an incredible product, and Apple a remarkable company. Today’s press conference didn’t really change things one way or the other. Their hope is that with their case-and-refund announcement in place, the issue will quiet down, and people will feel good about buying and using the iPhone 4. We’ll see if it works.

links for 2010-07-12

  • This is my favorite memory of the late Bob Sheppard: requesting that a full stadium of rowdy, Macarena-dancing fans would "please… do not throw socks… onto the playing field." I was at this game and laughed about it for years after. Bob Sheppard saying "socks." Jeter's recorded intro is a wonderful tribute that we'll be hearing at old-timers' day for decades to come

Tweeting from Sydney

Just because I don’t have an active mobile phone Down Under doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking in 160-character snippets all week. Herewith, my observations en masse from my strolls around Sydney.

I thought I was doing well with my jetlag. Then I fell asleep in bright sun on the Sydney harbor ferry
Any lingering doubts locals had re my port of call were likely abolished by my walking around eating an egg sandwich at 3:30 in the afternoon
Trying to figure out the price index of this town. Some purchases are shockingly expensive
As far as I can tell, 100% of the people in Sydney are nice.
All this David Foster Wallace is making me want to write. Which is a great thing, so long as I don’t compare myself to him
Taronga Zoo: all that. Australian animals are a trip
Remember the good old days when nobody locked a wifi signal?
Loved dinner at Fratelli Paradiso. Great food, welcoming service, nice Monday night vibe. The kind of place where you talk to neighboring diners and swap restaurant suggestions (New York for him, Sydney for me) with your waiter. Left with a romantic bounce in my step.
Every time I hear it I become more convinced that the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” is the perfect rock ‘n roll song.
Belgian hot chocolate at the Chocolate Room, notable mostly because the nincompoop concierge at the Four Points told me to go to a Starbucks
Got the hang of the time change. Say good morning to my family, go to sleep. Wake up in the morning, tuck them into bed. Easy!
Max, the TV music station in Australia, plays a remarkable amount of Bon Jovi.
Calling the cafe at 485 Crown St “4ate5” is a stroke of genius obviousness
People said “good news, the Aus dollar is down vs. the U.S.” What they didn’t mention is that Australian CPG prices are often double what I’m used to paying. $3 for a 20 oz. Coke is normal here
Fraser Suites is a grand place to stay. Heart of CBD, big one-bedroom layout, four closets, full kitchen. There’s even a washer-dryer (which I’m not using… but my wife would)
Confirmed: everyone in Sydney is nice.
Online Retailer conference has been great. Meeting lots of good folks. Even pulled off a tweetup
Anyone know where I can buy some Tim Tams?

Travelblog: Sydney

G’day! No one much says that, of course, but seeing as I’m in Sydney, it’s the appropriate way to start my post about Australia’s biggest city, where I arrived Sunday morning (local time) in advance of the Online Retailer conference, where I’ll be speaking later this week.
Sydney is, from what I’ve seen, a bit of a hidden city. One has to be willing to venture out of the central and tourist districts, to meander down quiet streets, go to secondary neighborhoods, and put effort into one’s visit in order to make something of it. For those who don’t try, plenty of shops exist that will charge $4 for a bottle of water. Look deeper, though, and a world of welcoming delights awaits.
I have had my best meals in out-of-the-way locations: at a little cafe off the main street of Mosman, an upper-middle-class enclave in North Sydney, near but not convenient to the Taronga Zoo; at Fratelli Paradiso, a highly regarded Italian restaurant that is nevertheless way at the end of Potts Point, far from transit and hubbub; at a little chocolate joint on the cusp of Chinatown, so hidden in plain sight that my concierge didn’t know about it. (More on that in a minute.)
Point being, you don’t come to Sydney and ride the stupid Monorail from Darling Harbor into the center of town. You come here to poke around. To be on the water. To insist on a level of curiosity one step beyond the simplicity that gracious Sydney residents will otherwise afford you, thinking you really don’t want to putz around in Potts Point, so why even mention it?
This philosophy works almost anywhere, from New York (where you can have pasta at the Olive Garden… or Babbo) to Paris–certainly Paris–but unlike those cities, Sydney doesn’t have a lot of touristy crap going for it. The world’s classic cities have to-see lists a week long. Sydney, on the other hand, has a fabulous harbor and a show-stopping opera house, and not much else from a casual sightseeing standpoint. Come to Sydney, and people expect you to promptly leave Sydney, to take day trips to the mountains or the beaches or the outback.
To run out of town is to deny Sydney its charms, though. So far, every single person I’ve met has been friendly, welcoming and gracious. Locals are quite proud of their city, its beautiful clean water, its views, its Thai food. So when you get here, go for it! Ask locals where to eat, where to walk around, what to see. When they tell you to just plop down at one of the cafes in front of Circular Quay, tell them you know you can do better, and see what comes up. Deep in those recommendations will be the 160-year-old pub with a to-die-for rooftop that you should be visiting.
End prologue. Here’s what I’ve been up to.
I have spent the past two nights at the Four Points Sheraton Darling Harbour, which is about as good as my Starwood points and $45 per night gives me the right to expect. (One would think I’d learned my lesson, but I guess not.) The rooms are modern, clean and comfortable enough, if dinged by the expensive and spotty and non-wifi in-room Internet access. Most regrettable are the concierges, who sent me to the aforementioned cafes on Circular Quay and, when I balked, had the gall to present as an alternative a restaurant that proudly advertises “no meal over $10”; and who, the next night, when asked where to get some dessert and coffee, could only think of a Starbucks. In Sydney, where Starbucks gave up in 2008. After two days, I could be a better local guide than these guys.
Also, while I thought Darling Harbour would be a prime location, it’s really not much of anything, although it’s walking distance from Chinatown, which led me to a great noodle joint my first night here, where the two local women at the table next to me took control of my menu and ordered me a delightful array of dumplings and chow fun that was precisely twice as much food as I could have eaten.
Speaking of food. Fratelli Paradiso for Italian. Avenue Road Cafe for breakfast or lunch or coffee in Mosman. The Chocolate Room for, well, y’know. All delightful, and I have five more days of eating to do.
As for sightseeing, the harbor is truly gorgeous on a sunny day, and all of one’s efforts should go into finding places to stare at it from various vantage points. I plan on crossing the main bridge at some point (although I don’t see the benefit of the $350 stair climb to the top of the beams). The Taronga Zoo is a treat, particularly the walk-in section that allows poorly thought-out attempts to pet leery kangaroos. My experiences with the central district are mostly my wandering around, but the Rocks and the area surrounding the opera house are great places to do just that.
From what I can tell, my conference schedule will allow me two full days of sightseeing before I head back to New York. I’m very much looking forward to them.

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