Monthly Archives: January 2005


A page of doodles found on Tony Blair’s desk at last week’s economic summit in Davos sparked a wave of excitement in the media. Psychologists and handwriting experts were drafted in by the press in the hope of getting a glimpse into the inner workings of the prime ministerial mind. Newspaper stories contained phrases such as “struggling to concentrate” and “not a natural leader“.

Now – and with not a little glee – Downing Street has revealed that the scribblings were not the work of the premier, but that of one Bill Gates of Microsoft.

That’s got to hurt!

Insiders at Number 10 are apparently waiting “with amusement” to find out just how the comments about Mr. Blair will now be applied to Mr. Gates.

Steady Diet of Red Meat Increases Colon Cancer Risk

This just in from the "Things my grandma told me" Department.

It took them twenty years to come up with this mind boggling conclusion. The cattle barons, of course, won't be pleased with this one.


Nuff said

Hackers Tune In to Windows Media Player

Hackers use the Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology embedded in recent versions of WIndows Media Player to load nasties onto your computer.  Unfortunately Microsoft plans to do nothing about it. My favorite quote from this second story: "If strangers are trying to entice you to open a file, chances are they're setting you up for a bad experience" No kidding.

Another reason to say NO to DRM.

To quote Scotty in Star Trek III…

The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.

Too much salt is bad for you…

but the salt barons would rather you didn’t know that.

Future looks bleak for UK pensions.

There is a Pensions Crisis in Britain. We're next. According to Texas Congressman Ron Paul, The Federal Government has been stealing from the piggy bank for decades. Medicare and Social Security administrators, take note.

British Newspaper Called for Bush Assassination

A week before the US Presidential elections, a The Guardian, a reputable British newspaper, published a story in which the writer opined:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?

Let me get this straight – you are seriously asking if someone will assassinate the president? You cannot be serious.

Unfortunately they were. For what it's worth, the newspaper apologized following the public outcry over the article, which has been removed from the Guardian's website.

What is this Internet thingy and how can I make money out of it?

Some years ago I attended a computer show.

In one of the meeting room, a free “web sales seminar” was being held.

Out of curiosity I went in and found a couple of lads talking about markets and strategy and trying to sell their web marketing service to a dozen or so “punters”.

Their sales pitch went on for about 15 minutes, and then they asked for questions. I asked if I could speak for a couple of minutes, and I stood up and said something like the following:

Like many managers of small and medium-sized businesses, you are probably asking the following question:

What is this Internet thingy and how can I make money out of it?

I respectfully suggest that you are asking the wrong question. The question you should be asking is:

How can I use the Internet to improve the business that I already have?

As a heavy user of the Internet, I am amazed at how many companies turn away my business or drive me into the arms of the competition through poor or nonexistent communication.

  • Too many times I have e-mailed companies asking for information about their products and services… and never received a reply.
  • Too many times I have wandered around a “sales brochure” web site trying to find a way to get in touch with a real person, only to give up in disgust and take my business elsewhere.
  • Too many times I have e-mailed regarding a problem and received a boilerplate message from an alleged “customer service professional” whose skills did not apparently extend as far as actually reading and answering my question.

I suspect that much of this problem comes from a lack of focus on e-mail customer support. All too often this job is placed upon staff who are already overloaded, and as a result the job does not get done.

The answer is obvious – make e-mail support a priority with a dedicated budget and dedicated staff.

While the products and services that these gentlemen are selling may help you along the way, if you don’t focus on communication, I suggest that all of the “marketing” in the world won’t help and you may be wasting your time and money on the Web.

I believe the best advertising of all is word-of-mouth. I believe that the customers you already have are your best sales leads. The question is, do you?

Thank you for your time.

I wonder if any of them listened?

Link of the Day

Why is American Airlines gathering written dossiers on fliers' friends?

Website is not perhaps in the best taste, but interesting reading nonetheless.

Consumers say “Yay”, Big Music says “WAAH!”…

One of my favorite subjects is the continuing woes of the recording industry. This story in Rolling Stone Magazine was bought to my attention. The gist of the story is that Wal-Mart wants to sell CDs at under $10, and the music business is not happy.

About time.

Anyhow, here are some choice soundbites from the story with my comments.

I don’t think there is a music supplier in America who really enjoys doing business with Wal-Mart

That’s because you can’t push around Wal-Mart – they’re too big to be intimidated.

At Wal-Mart, we’re a commodity and have to fight for shelf space like Colgate fights for shelf space.

And your point is..? To a Wal-Mart buyer, your selling just another product. Live with it.

What the Music business have failed to realize is that to most consumers music has become a commodity. The music business is not about “art”, it’s about the production, marketing and sale of entertainment products. This is ironic as the music business is responsible for most of the commoditizing.

Oh, and the cost breakdown at the bottom of the page (reproduced below for your convenience) raises some questions.

  • $0.17 Musicians’ unions
  • $0.80 Packaging/manufacturing
  • $0.80 Retail profit
  • $0.82 Publishing royalties
  • $0.90 Distribution
  • $1.60 Artists’ royalties
  • $1.70 Label profit
  • $2.40 Marketing/promotion (I was under the impression that the artists were billed for this)
  • $2.91 Label overhead (what, exactly, is this?)
  • $3.89 Retail overhead (Does it really cost nearly four bucks to sell a CD?)

I find the three largest pieces of this particular pie suspect. Note that retail and label each get two slices of the pie. Without them the price drops to a wonderfully reasonable $6.79.

My favorite quote from this article: The record industry needs to refine their business models, because the consumer is the ultimate arbitrator. And the consumer feels music isn’t properly priced. – Best Buy senior vice president Gary Arnold