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Free phone Fri, Sep 30, 2005
I think it's funny how we as dumb people are totally consumed by offers for free things and mail-in rebates.  I'm, of course, no exception.  I always look for deals.  What's even funnier is the fact that we actually believe that something's free.  Have we forgotten TNSTAAFL?  Take cell phones, for example.  There's always a great deal on cell phones when you sign up for a new 2-year plan.  If you've ever looked at buying a brand new cell phone before your 2-year agreement was up, you'd realize how good this deal really is.  You can't get a cell phone without a plan for less than $100.  You can't even get a used one for that price.  But somehow, when we sign up for a 2-year contract, we get a free phone.  Here's what really happens:  that $200-$300 for that brand new camera flip-phone goes directly to your bill.  You say, "No it doesn't.  I pay exactly what the offer says:  XX dollars per month with XX thousand minutes."  You're right.  But the cost of those phones is factored into this monthly price even before you sign up.  So instead of paying reasonable prices for something like low-quality, unreliable cell phone service, we're forced to pay a minimum of $40 a month (if we're lucky).  But don't worry, you get 5000 minutes with that.  I don't friggin' care.  (Random math proof:  If there are 30 days in a month, 24 hours a day, and 60 minutes per hour, that's a total of 43,200 minutes per month.  There are about 8 days of weekends in a month.  That's 11,520 minutes.  There are 9 hours of "nights" for each weekday.  That's 11,880 minutes.  So in any given month, there are about 19,800 minutes of talking time that you can be charged for.  If you used all 5000 minutes on a cell phone plan, you would have talked on the phone for about one-quarter of the total amount of time available, not including nights and weekends.)  I'd much rather pay half that price for half the number of minutes.  Heck, I'd pay $30/month if I could get a reasonable amount of minutes (I know T-Mobile has this; their network isn't big enough).  The other humorous part about this is that we think, "Wow, Motorola is so nice.  They give away free phones."  Wrong.  No company would give anything away for free.  You could say it's because they're big, heartless machines who chew people up and spit them out.  But it also makes all the sense in the world to not give things away for free.  That's how profits work.  But I have to direct my anger towards something, so I'll choose the thing that has the least chance of finding out and coming to beat me up.  "I hate you VerizonCingularT-MobileMotorolaSamsungMicrosoft and I only use your stupid service because it's convenient.  As soon as something better comes along, I'll drop you in a heartbeat." #technology

Weird noise maker Fri, Sep 30, 2005
Along the same lines as long talker, loud breather, close talker, and man hands, I have yet another addition:  weird noise maker.  Many places I go, there's invariably a person sitting next to me who makes weird noises or does something strange.  There's a guy in my grad class who intermittently makes some sort of throaty, guttural noise.  I would feel bad for him, but I think it's intentional.  I mean I think he's doing it to clear his throat or breath through his ears or something.  But I don't really think he's clearing his throat because he doesn't make that "Sorry I make weird noises, I have an esophagus inflammation and I'll die if I don't make weird noises" face.  So I'm forced to stare inquisitively at him every time he does it, just in case I can somehow deduce what exactly he's doing. #psychology

Advertising part 2 Fri, Sep 30, 2005
I found this article about an interview with Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, concerning advertising. 
Bezos:  Amazon is well positioned to offer a low-priced service of high quality, and we wouldn't have to pay heavy marketing fees.

In fact, this is a general thing that we've done that has been very helpful to our business. About three years ago we stopped doing television advertising. We did a 15-month-long test of TV advertising in two markets - Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis - to see how much it drove our sales. And it worked, but not as much as the kind of price elasticity we knew we could get from taking those ad dollars and giving them back to consumers. So we put all that money into lower product prices and free shipping. That has significantly accelerated the growth of our business.

WiredIs this a trend?
Bezos:  Yes, more and more money will go into making a great customer experience, and less will go into shouting about the service. Word of mouth is becoming more powerful. If you offer a great service, people find out.

WiredIn the magazine world, we rely on ads. Should we be terrified?
Bezos:  I'm not saying that advertising is going away. But the balance is shifting. If today the successful recipe is to put 70 percent of your energy into shouting about your service and 30 percent into making it great, over the next 20 years I think that's going to invert.
Now that makes me happy.  Here's a guy who's the head of an unbelievably successful company, and he's talking about not advertising on TV.  Instead, he would opt to put his money into lower prices and free shipping.  Will you marry me, Jeff Bezos? #entertainment

Productive Fri, Sep 30, 2005
My boss at my old job used to say that he wouldn't leave his desk unless he had at least 3 things to do.  That way he would maximize his productivity.  Like he wouldn't go to the bathroom unless he had 2 other things to do along the way.  That sounded kinda crazy at the time, and now it sounds absolutely absurd.  I didn't know if I'd eventually become like him, but now it looks like I definitely won't.  I'll leave my desk for the sole purpose of finding something to do.  I don't need a reason.  I'll come up with one. 

I used to do the whole "I'm important because I'm carrying something" thing at work.  I've found that it's extremely successful in all working environments.  Just get a clipboard or a folder with some papers and carry it around with you.  It always looks like you're doing something.  It's better than that person who walks around with nothing in their hands.  It looks like they're just walking around to find someone to talk to or to use the bathroom (unproductive). 

Every job I've had is all about "milking" (some say "melking") a job so that it takes longer than it needs to.  That's just how things work.  Some days will be really busy, but other days will be completely void of work.  So you have to learn how to "pace" yourself, i.e. work slow enough to eat up a bunch of time, while still keeping the appearance of being productive. #business