Category Archives: Stupid

It’s Been a While Since I’ve Rambled

It’s been a while since I’ve written an entry in this blog.  I think this says a lot about the state of things.  In general, there’s not much to say, and, in general, there’s not much nice for me to say.

About a month ago while driving home from a night out at the movies, my husband asked me if I wanted to go to Best Buy or Fry’s and wander the aisles.  My response was, “For what?”  That’s when we came to the sad realization that, beyond the iPad, there is nothing for gadget freaks and computer nerds to be excited about right now.  3D TV repulses me and there’s no reason to buy a new TV just because it has yellow pixels.  There are no new speed leaps in PC hardware and I already have a multitude of iPods and PC’s in various form factors.  Ironically, the next day, while listening to Marketplace on my local Public Radio station, one of the news stories was about how sales at Best Buy had fallen.  I guess my husband and my sentiments are widespread.  There’s nothing new and wonderful to aspire to purchase (except for an iPad) and we are only buying on necessity for the purpose of replacing  broken items.  Sadly enough, our non-functioning XBOX360 doesn’t rise to the level of necessity.  We are now watching Netflix VOD on the laptop that’s connected to our TV.

This realization brought about further thoughts about the current state of things.  There’s a push/pull conundrum with the jobs situation.  People are holding back on spending because they feel insecure about their jobs and finances and companies aren’t hiring because there’s not enough demand for produces and services.  I think though, that job and financial insecurity are only a  part of the demand problem.  I think a big part of the demand problem is that there’s nothing exciting and new for consumers to consume.  Why do I say this?  Well, because of Apple, of course.  Despite the downturn, they continue to churn out great products and they don’t seem to be having any problem selling them to cash strapped consumers.  And believe me, my unemployed-behind is saving my husband’s money for a Christmas iPad.

I’m tired of hearing companies whine that they won’t hire because there’s no demand for their offerings.  My response to that line of complaints is “what are you offering?”  If it’s not something new and exciting, regardless of state of the economy, demand will slump.  In good times and bad companies have create demand by innovating and coming up with great new products to drive consumption.  So, in other words, big companies are going to have to spend some of the money they are sitting on, hire some people, and offer some great new products and services in order to kick start demand and spark the economy.  At the same time, there has to be investment in innovative small companies to get new ideas out.

My Dad likes to say that the economy won’t  revive until some sort of phenomenal shift happens — something on scale of the Internet or the steam engine.  I’m not sure if I agree.  It seems to me that there are a lot of “little” things that can get done, too.  Interestingly enough to me, it seems like clean energy isn’t fueling people’s imaginations.   I thought the clean energy revolution would be a phenomenal shift, but it isn’t.  Why?  I think it’s because oil is very much ingrain in our worldwide psyche.  I’m not sure I understand this emotional attachment to oil, but despite the damage being done to the Gulf, I hear the tears in people’s voice as they talk about the spilled oil ruining the environment, while at the same time, ruining job prospects and a way of life in which oil and fishing are intertwined.  The same is true for families in the coal mining industry — it’s like coal mining is part of the family.  It’s weird to me — why love something that kills you and hurts everyone on the planet?    Also, I think oil and coal are tangible whereas solar, wind, nuclear, and the biological and chemical methods of energy generation seem abstract to most people.   I imagine “blue collar” workers don’t see how they fit into a world that they associate with hard science and engineering — though, it seems entirely ridiculous to me, but understandable since BP saw it fit to fire the very engineers and scientists that could have prevented or more reasonably responded to the Gulf oil spill.  (By the way “technicians,”  “engineers,” and “scientists”  are not interchangeable!)  Anyhow…it seems to me that our reliance on fossil fuels is emotional and until that emotional tie is cut, other forms of energy generation cannot rise in its place.  The “everyday worker” has to see how they fit into a new energy future before they will buy into it.    Making alternative energy seem more accessible is a good problem for marketers to solve…

On the other fronts…well,  inventing new ways to print money never got us anywhere.  Yet, “Wall Street innovation” will continue, driven by finding new ways to scam people without technically breaking the law…personally, I don’t need it…but I imagine the new legislation that just passed will fuel a whole new round of “Wall Street Innovation…”

On a personal front, I’m watching and participating in the electronic manga revolution.  I want to be more active in it.  I think, though,  this is one of those things in which the large companies have to reach out to the smaller companies and hobbyist groups to get things moving in the right direction for consumers.  I just hope lawyers and greed don’t blind folks such that we end up losing the current opportunity.

Printing from Mobile — uh, Why?

I’ve had the misfortune, lately, of watching TV with commercials.  In general I put commercials out of my mind, but the commercials from mobile service providers and a prominent printer company showing people panicking because they lost or forgot their paper presentations and then rejoicing as they remember they can, in some shiny near future, print their presentation are annoying me.  My problem — when was the last time a professional or a student presented anything to a group of people huddled around a spiral bound notebook?  If your presentation is accessible by mobile, you’re golden.  Download it and project it like you have been doing for the past 10-years.

It’s actually rather sad to me to watch the lack of imagination and the stagnation of thought in these commercials.   Did the marketing people who came up with these commercials present the concept for the commercials in a spiral bound notebook?  I shudder to think of the brains behind “print from mobile” and it appalls me to think that any company would actually spend precious R&D dollars on something so pointless.

The Trouble with Checking out Potential Employees on the Internet

I made the mistake again of Googling my true name.  AUGH…the Internet presence of my name clones is growing and most of them are up to no good in terms of job seeking.  I’m VERY frustrated because how is an employer to know which person I am and are potential employers stupid enough to believe that names are unique.  I’ve written about this topic before, but now that it could affect my ability to keep my roof above my head, I feel a certain sense of urgency on the matter.  I do love the Internet, but how some people use it is questionable.

Giving what I’ve seen from Googling myself, I see that the Internet is, indeed, a sewage filled wasteland.  There’s are some people who are up to things that may be objectionable to employers all sharing my name and all very active on the Internet.  What’s a dull engineer like me to do to reclaim my identity and assert my dull, non-controversial self as a safe hire?  Do I put on my resume that I’m the “dull engineer” with patents and not these other folks?  How many job opportunities have passed me by because a potential employer Googled my name and found other people with the same name and then decided that I was unemployable based on prejudice and bias towards my name clones?

It is my belief that the Internet is not a reliable source of information about the personality or activities of a person.  Googling a name is pointless because there are many people on this Earth with the same name.  If a person explicitly gives you Internet URLs to check out, then I think it’s safe to say that is their Internet presence, or at least the Internet presence they want to feature as a potential employee.  I know I could shout this to the wind and get laws passed outlawing Google as a tool for hiring and, regardless, people are still going to be curious and do an Internet search.  However, keep in mind, that you REALLY have no idea what you’ve found and that you may be missing an opportunity to hire a great employee by “interviewing” the Internet, rather than the actual person who applied.

Wow, GM, Wow…

Uh … perhaps it’s not a good idea to so boldly put the name of a competitor’s car in your advertising …”Accord” is so big.  Do you have any idea what this car is?  Uh, …, Is a “compromise”  a bad thing? For me a compromise  is a win-win solution for all parties.  Wow … looking at this ad, I take away the Accord is a good value, maybe I should check it out.  It doesn’t help that the car’s styling is vanilla in the current style of the Accord and Camry …Wow …

And the second ad:

Uh … so is GM apologizing for the styling of this vehicle by implying it’s an “AppleCart?”  The redness of the vehicle reinforces this notion.  Yeah, yeah, we’re supposed to think the car “upset the apple cart” — so why not say that?  And call it an “AppleCart” instead of an “apple cart” makes me thing “AppleCart” is a brand name.  Wow … that’s something GM …wow…

Both of these ads suffer from mixed messaging that doesn’t reflect well on the GM brand, and, in the case of the Accord ad, may turn a potential customer to a competitor immediately.  I know the intention was to be ironic, but the mental and visual cues are doing the opposite of what may have been intended.

On top of killing the Saturn brand, it makes me wonder whether everything is okay at GM.

Saturn/Penske Deal Fell Through

I felt a little dagger go through my heart as I read the headline.  My second car was a Saturn.  I got it at the end of my first senior year in college.  It was a little gold SL1 that I named “spud” because it looked like a potato on wheels.  I always loved the Saturn concept and felt had wiser and smarter heads prevailed, the Saturn brand could have been the car equivalent of Apple.  But alas, GM is GM, and I don’t have anything nice to say about the company.  He’re a link to a story about Saturn’s demise:

link

I seriously feel like I’m going to cry because in my heart I know this may be the end of automotive innovation within the US.  Of all the parts of GM I wanted to survive, Saturn was the only one I was really pulling for.