May 31, 2006

Insurance

If you're like me then you're getting older every day. And like me, you might be thinking about taking care of those around you should something happen to you. This brings up the topic of insurance and the topic of slimy salesmen who push products on you even if they don't believe you need it. I found the following helpful even though it focuses very little on life insurance in particular. The principles in it are sound though. THis might just be the most boring post on here. E.V.E.R. Sorry. Oh, and comments are back up for now.

Written while groovin' to It's Like That from the album “Welcome 2 Detroit (Instrumentals)” by Jay Dee

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May 30, 2006

Securesingles.com

Only in 2006 does something like Securesingles.com makes sense. As IconCulture puts it:

To dump obnoxious dates, users can send themselves text messages at a specified time. But they can also set a text alert that goes out to friends, family members or the authorities if they don’t cancel it. The message tells recipients how to access info on their date. Phone messages are in the offing.
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Pat Metheny on Kenny G

01-Pat Metheny 01 Kenny G-1

Pat Metheny is not a big fan of Kenny G. I have to admit that as a kid there was a time that I bought a Kenny G album (and Air Supply). I liked the pop leanings of it and I was in a high-school jazz band at the time so I can hardly be blamed. I now can't stand to listen to Kenny G for even a few notes. The slippery vibrato of soprano sax makes me wince and gives me that pain in my neck--the one I get one someone is singing off key.

<snip>

Not long ago, Kenny G put out a recording where he overdubbed himself on top of a 30+ year old Louis Armstrong record, the track “What a Wonderful World”. With this single move, Kenny G became one of the few people on earth I can say that I really can't use at all - as a man, for his incredible arrogance to even consider such a thing, and as a musician, for presuming to share the stage with the single most important figure in our music.

</snip>

Written while groovin' to Welcome 2 Detroit from the album “Welcome 2 Detroit (Instrumentals)” by Jay Dee

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May 26, 2006

Dell to Open Stores

On the heels of Apple's new Manhattan store Dell has announced a new retail strategy. Dell's Director of sales for homes and small business was asked about this new strategy...

What makes Dell's stores different from those of Gateway (GTW ), which ended up folding its locations?
There'll be no inventory. It's the same sales model as the kiosks. We're build-to-order and ship to you in 7 to 10 days.

Now, I'm no retail expert to be sure but I predict miserable failure. I don't know about you but I hate to go into a store and get excited about a product--so excited that I'm ready to plunk down thousands of dollars for it--only to hear that I can't walk out of the store with it. Lame.

Written while groovin' to Celestial from the album “Nogatco Rd” by Kool Keith

Business Week Online
MAY 25, 2006

Newsmaker Q&A
By Louise Lee

Dell's Minimalist Stores
The PC giant is opening retail outlets in Dallas and West Nyack, N.Y. But don't expect Alienware machines or fancy spiral staircases

Dell has long been known for selling almost all its consumer PCs sight unseen, many of them, in recent years, over the Internet. Now the company is moving further into the brick-and-mortar world. It plans to open two full-size stores, one in West Nyack, N.Y., and the other in Dallas, in coming months. The units, where customers can browse through Dell products and place orders, are far larger than the 160 small kiosks that Dell already operates in shopping malls.

The openings come as Dell (DELL ) tries to reverse a year of disappointing sales and earnings results (see BW Online, 05/19/06, “From Servers to Service: Dell's Makeover”). Meanwhile, Dell's competitors are honing their own consumer marketing: Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ) in recent weeks launched its most aggressive advertising campaign, largely targeting consumers (see BW Online, 05/04/06, “HP's Wow Factor”).

And Apple Computer (AAPL), which operates more than 100 stores, has just opened a showcase location on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue that resembles a giant cube of glass and features a transparent spiral staircase looming over displays of hundreds of products (see BW Online, 05/18/06, “Apple's New Store is Pure Glass”).

Louise Lee, a correspondent in BusinessWeek's Silicon Valley bureau, spoke to Jim Skelding, Dell's director of sales for homes and small businesses, about Dell's newest brick-and-mortar venture. Edited excerpts follow:

Why not just stick with kiosks?
There are two restrictions of a kiosk. One, some malls don't allow them. Second, you can't display a lot of products in a 10-foot-by-12-foot kiosk. In a store, you've got a lot more floor space to display products. These stores will be about 3,000 square feet.

What can customers expect to see in the new Dell stores?
There'll be a greater customer experience. We plan on showing 30 different product combinations, which will be solution-based, like gaming, home theater, productivity, digital photography, and home office. In a kiosk, you can't show the full usage of products. For instance, you don't have the floor space to see a TV screen from a distance. And with home networking, you need space to show how to set up wireless access points.

Will the stores show products from the recently acquired game-machine maker Alienware?
Only Dell products. Alienware is a separate entity.

Can customers expect tech support at these stores? If someone brings in his Dell computer, will he be able to get it fixed?
We're still investigating that option. At the very least, we'll facilitate getting the customer to (existing) customer-service call centers.

What do kiosks and stores offer that Dell's e-commerce site can't?
There's a subset of customers who want to touch and feel. Some people can't visualize a notebook, or just want to see a TV before they buy. These stores are for that core group. These stores are an extension of the kiosk, just with 25 times more square footage and more products.

How many more stores will Dell open? How about stores outside the U.S.?
These stores are a pilot. We haven't discussed expansion further than that. There's no set time frame. I can't speculate on stores outside the U.S.

Running physical stores costs money. Do these stores signal any larger change in how Dell manages costs?
I don't think we're changing how we manage costs. And it doesn't change our model, which is a one-to-one relationship with the customer.

What makes Dell's stores different from those of Gateway (GTW ), which ended up folding its locations?
There'll be no inventory. It's the same sales model as the kiosks. We're build-to-order and ship to you in 7 to 10 days.

Apple's stores are known for cool architecture and design. The new flagship in Manhattan, with its spiral staircases, makes a real brand statement. Is Dell trying to make a statement with its stores?
I don't know if they make a statement, other than making the customer experience better. I don't know if there's any hidden message. The stores will show the brand identity, in the Dell blue. It'll be very clean, very spacious, not cluttered. No spiral staircases.

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Borat In Cannes

Borat has taught me so much:

Written while groovin' to Set Your Controls to Ursadelica from the album “Ursula 1000: Ursadelica” by Ursula 1000

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May 25, 2006

Jodie Foster: Gangsta

Jodie Foster is so street. She's seen here quoting Eminem at a graduation ceremony. I still prefer Ali G.


Written while groovin' to Sacrifice (Live On Bbc Radio) from the album “Home Grown! The Beginner`s Guide to Understanding, Vol. 2” by The Roots
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May 23, 2006

Living Space

The next time you think your living space is too crowded, take a look around. You might not be so bad off relatively speaking.

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May 22, 2006

Music Museum

Music like that of Woody Guthrie and Peet Pete Seeger is given new life by digital download services. Don't believe me? Next time you're in a wal-mart of a BestBuy I challenge you to find one CD from either of them on the shelves. In the iTunes Music Store you'll soon be able to find folk much more rare. This is revolution music. Don't let the smooth taste fool you. Folkways has brought much interesting back catalog online (do they have any other form of catalog?):

“We're really a museum collection for audio,” says the label's director and curator, Dan Sheehy, an ethnomusicologist by training. “When I see CDs going out the door at our fulfillment department, I think of them as mini traveling exhibitions.”

Written while groovin' to Flex Off from the album “Stepfather” by People Under The Stairs

The Wall Street Journal
May 22, 2006

Folk Label Hits Web With Beats, Croaks, Wails
By ETHAN SMITH
May 22, 2006;


Digital music downloaders, get ready to rock to “Finnish Tunes and Songs,” “Festival of Japanese Music in Hawaii (Vol. 1 and 2)” and “Stethoscope Sounds: Heart Murmurs and Lung Sounds.”


Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, has reached a deal to market all of its vast and eclectic library on Internet services like Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store. The development promises to bring to a wider audience seminal works by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly as well as recordings from around the world and thousands of historical obscurities.


“We're really a museum collection for audio,” says the label's director and curator, Dan Sheehy, an ethnomusicologist by training. “When I see CDs going out the door at our fulfillment department, I think of them as mini traveling exhibitions.”


The new marketing arrangement, with a New York-based digital distribution company called the Orchard, could upend that earnest approach. The Orchard -- owned by Dimensional Associates Inc., the private equity arm of hedge fund JDS Capital Management, Inc. -- is combing this vast treasure trove of historic recordings, seeking oddball ways to generate revenue from previously overlooked sources.


For instance, looking to build buzz for its new client, the Orchard recently hired Jamba GmbH, the same Berlin-based company that last year scored an unlikely hit with a ringtone called “Crazy Frog”: a digitally-enhanced amphibian croaking out the theme song to the movie “Beverly Hills Cop.” Jamba's assignment is to come up with another best seller, this one based on Folkways' 1958 underground classic “Sounds of North American Frogs.”


“What we want to do is find the right frog mating tone,” says Orchard Chief Executive Greg Scholl, “and see if we can capture the public's imagination and sell a couple million ringtones.”


Hoping lightning will strike twice, Jakob Kuznicki, Jamba's director of business development, says he in turn has enlisted Reinhard Veth, the producer responsible for the original “Crazy Frog.”


Beyond the frogs, the Orchard has mapped out two years' worth of promotions -- many of them more in line with Folkways' staid image -- for the catalog's holdings. The proposals include monthlong digital campaigns built around themes like Indonesian Independence Day, complete with ringtones featuring indigenous “gamelan” percussion; “Back to School” playlists (sample: Lead Belly singing “Skip to My Lou”); and a world-music promotion called “Don't Fear What You Don't Understand,” with tracks drawn from compilations like “Palestine Lives!” and “The Freedom Songs of the Somali Republic.”


It's not just the niche appeal of its offerings that sets Folkways apart. The company's business model, dating back nearly 20 years, would seem tailor-made for the Internet age of targeted sales. Many of the 3,500 albums in its library sell just one or two copies a year, issued on CDs (and before those, cassettes) custom-recorded when a customer places an order. Folkways distributes to retail outlets about 10% of its titles, mostly American blues and folk titles by household names like Woody Guthrie. Its biggest hit, the six-volume “Anthology of American Folk Music,” has sold just north of 80,000 copies since it was reissued on CD in 1997.


Folkways rarely spends more than $30,000 promoting an album, so the company has to find marketing opportunities where it can. “We have to piggyback on trends,” says Richard Burgess, its marketing and sales director. For instance, seeking to capitalize on Bruce Springsteen's recent hit, “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,” the company launched a marketing program called “Can't Start a Fire Without a Spark: From Seeger to Springsteen.” “We have most of the original Pete Seeger stuff,” says Mr. Burgess. “We're out there trying to let people know we have it.”


Folkways manages to break even most years, by relying on a strategy that is often touted as a key benefit of distribution via the Internet: the ability to profitably sell small quantities of a very large number of products. On the Net, the model works because a digital marketplace often involves minuscule costs for storage and delivery; for Folkways' custom business, it works because the company doesn't actually maintain much inventory.


In 2005, Folkways launched its own downloading site, SmithsonianGlobalsound.org1, and saw its revenue increase 24%, to nearly $3 million.


Most of its offerings haven't been available through iTunes or other online services because the terms demanded by the services were incompatible with aspects of its mandate as a government-owned nonprofit. With a middleman in place, Folkways was able to make its catalog available, according to Mr. Sheehy. (Folkways executives say the concerns were unrelated to those dogging a recent film-licensing arrangement between the Smithsonian Institution and the Showtime cable network.)


Mr. Sheehy says earlier discussions with Apple broke down because the iTunes boilerplate licensing agreement brought about “concern for the integrity of the name of the Smithsonian Institution.” Specifically, Folkways was worried about the use of the Smithsonian's name in promotional material. Folkways also wasn't prepared, technologically, to quickly prepare all its material for sale on iTunes.


Moses Asch founded Folkways Records & Service Co. in 1948, with the simple-sounding mission of recording “people's music.” The label released 2,168 albums before Asch's death in 1986, showcasing seminal American blues, country and bluegrass artists; European folksingers; African drummers; Indonesian gamelan orchestras; and hundreds of other regional and international performers.


A great deal of Folkways' output has remained commercially obscure. Yet at the same time, those recordings have been incredibly influential to the people who managed to find them -- like the young Bob Dylan.


The Smithsonian Institution acquired the label from Asch's estate in 1987, on the condition that every single title be kept in print. The Smithsonian has since added collections and signed new artists, such as the influential country singer Lucinda Williams, whose first two albums were released by Folkways in the early late 1970s and early 1980s.

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May 19, 2006

Public Service Announcement: Ridding of Yellowjackets

Everyone's experienced the outdoor picnic that gets ruined by yellow jackets that smell the BBQ and wanna join the party. This is an interesting non-toxic solution to the problem that I look forward to trying. I'll let you know how it goes.

Posted by Pedraum at 11:07 AM | | TrackBack

May 18, 2006

Remember Wildfire?

Remember that company from ten(!) years ago? Now there's a 'free' version called Callwave. Apparently it works with many cellphone carriers and let's you do fun things like screen your cell phone voice mails while people are leaving a message and pick them up in midstream if you want.

Oh, and note to self, look up the ticker symbol for Cerner. They do electronic medical records stuff. I'll bet some money on that market growing quickly over the next ten years.

Posted by Pedraum at 09:09 AM | | TrackBack

May 17, 2006

Jump the NewsHour

This iPod thing is going to take off, mark my words. If you don't believe me then look no further than the NewsHour w/ McNeil/Lehrer (I forget which one stayed now). Oh, and we're selling the MacBook now...and yes, it comes in black.

Written while groovin' to Dj Trax - This Place from the album “DJ-Kicks: Nightmares On Wax” by DJ-Kicks (CD Series)

Posted by Pedraum at 09:58 AM | | TrackBack

May 16, 2006

GEL

I promised to tell y'all more about the GEL conference I recently attended in New York. I just read a good summary from the NYTimes' design chief that I'd rather link to. My highlight was Rick Smolan...very moving indeed.

Written while groovin' to Come Back from the album “Pearl Jam” by Pearl Jam

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May 15, 2006

Bling


P's New Ring
Originally uploaded by geminder.

I got a new ring in SOHO. As Luc would say, it's 'blingy'. I love MCMG's grainy pic. Oh, and my arms? Actually 16" guns.

Posted by Pedraum at 11:38 PM | | TrackBack

May 13, 2006

Comments

I've turned off comments as I was getting spammed heavily. I'll turn 'em back on once I figure out an effective way to keep them on that doesn't require daily cleansing.

Posted by Pedraum at 02:45 PM | | TrackBack

May 06, 2006

Air Guitar Nation

Luna Agn-1

I'm lucky in that I was in NYC this week for the GEL conference this week (more on that later) while the Tribeca Film Festival was going on. Last night I saw two killer flicks: Tell Me Do You Miss Me and Air Guitar Nation.

The first follows New York rock darlings Luna on the last six months of their tour before their announced breakup. I have to admit I wasn't a fan of Luna before this movie; not because I was actively avoiding them but probably because of new-music-overload over the last 15 years. After seeing the flick though I have a fondness for them that comes half from their skilled and creative musicianship and half from their Replacements-esque underdog coolness. The band was on hand and it was great to see them and to hear of the continued good stuff their doing independently (like the soundtrack for The Squid and the Whale, another great flick).

Air Guitar Nation is pure fun. Air guitar has become a more truly worldwide competition now and the film captures the fun in a magical way. The actors and the director were on hand afterwards (I shook C-Diddy's hand!) and I predict you'll be seeing more of this one on an independent big screen near you soon. Do yourself a favor and go see it.

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May 01, 2006

Steven Colbert

Steven Colbert of The Daily Show and, now, The Colbert Report (Rapport) fame gave a speech at the White House Correspondents' dinner. It was raw and I predict Colbert will be propelled to greatness or will be shot by the White House goons:

<snip>

Mayor Nagin! Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city! Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I'd like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., the chocolate city with a marshmallow center. And a graham cracker crust of corruption. It's a Mallomar, I guess is what I'm describing, a seasonal cookie.

</snip>

Written while groovin' to Think Long from the album “Bring It Back” by Mates of State

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