Apr 30, 2007

Note to Apple: it's not 1984 anymore

I was just forced to (once again) watch the current Apple Computer television spot; in this case it interrupted my lunch break peek at MSNBC. You know the one: the guy who looks like a young Steve Jobs making fun of the guy who looks like a young Microsoft's Bill Gates, busting his chops over the supposed superiority of the ever-so-friendly Mac O/S as opposed to Windows.

This ad shows how dead in the water Apple seems to be -- as far as its computer line, that is. Very sad: whereas this Steve & Bill routine might have played well about twenty years or so ago, doesn't Apple have anything new and better to brag about other than this ancient (and mostly irrelevant) "but it's so much easier to use" tagline?

With the Apple share of the corporate computing market hovering somewhere between one and two percent and its margins continuing to fall -- all while it's digital music consumer products and online service continues to bring in the cold hard cash -- I have a feeling that Apple management would love to be able to find some type of convenient and face-saving way OUT of the computing hardware market.

Someone forward the Lenovo Group's phone number out to the folks in Cupertino.

Apr 20, 2007

Where be the techies?

My attending two recent biz-centric events in recent weeks brought about an interesting observation in this writer's head...

Both were technology-themed meetings: the first being our friends at the Center for Economic Growth's annual Technology Awards Luncheon, held again this year at the Desmond. The nice folks at Austin & Company were good enought to invite me to join them at their corporate table and I am glad they did. Together we watched this year's worthy award winners get their just due and offer their observations to the large crowd. Especially entertaining was watching 1st Payable Productions' CEO Tobi Saulnier expand upon the business - friendly advantages and attractions of downtown Troy while Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings looked on from just a few feet away. But hey, this is all about REGIONAL growth, right?

Then, this week I stopped by to the small gathering put on by our allies at the local chapter of the Alliance of Technology & Women, convened at the Envy Lounge on Pearl Street. Yes, Pearl Street: why this nice new NYC-style joint is consistently listed as being located at 99 Pine Street is a head scratcher. Regardless, it was good to meet up with the ATW people, who were welcoming in their new leadership while thanking the outgoing leadership for jobs well done.

What hit me about both of these gigs was this fact: even thought both of them were staged with that aforementioned "technology " theme, very few actual techies / technologists were seen at either gathering. Doing a best-I-can recollection of the thirty-five so individuals I had any sort of conversation with at both sessions, I would loosely guess that a grand total of about five of them would fit into a strict definition of being a 'technology worker.' Somewhat interesting, I think...

The pessimist would conclude that maybe there really aren't a whole lot of these people running around these parts after all, despite the hype. The optimist would argue that, more than likely, members of these so-called high tech professions are too busy putting their noses to the grindstone and actually getting some work done while the rest of us are sneaking out for long lunches and checking out the fine wine selections around town.

Let's hope it's the latter.


Apr 17, 2007

Bush on Va Tech: stay the course!

Among the first comments coming from the White House in reaction to the Virginia Tech campus slaughter, the Bush people made sure to send a quick signal to the gun nuts subset of their power base that they have nothing to panic about in spite of this unfortunate development. To wit, catch this beauty from the lips of official spokesflack Dana Perrino:

"... the President believes in the peoples' constitutional right to bear arms, but that all laws must be enforced."

Apparently, this administration believes that the current Virgina laws -- which allow a deranged individual to walk into a shop and purchase a handgun on a Friday and then use it to blow away thirty-three people going about their daily business on the following Monday -- are working out just fine.

Apr 13, 2007

Correction: NYC does it right

I got a kick out of the reaction from a rather inconsequential report released this week stating that New York City produces just under 1% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the USA.

State Radio (aka Fox News) is on the story, of course. Whenever they find an opening to bash either liberal Gotham or the climate change crowd, they're sure to jump all over it. So, this just proves what hyprocrites the eastern elite are when it comes to a "do what I say, but don't do as I do" approach to environmentalism, right? Well, not quite...

What these spawn of Holocaust-deniers don't take into consideration -- or aren't capable of understanding-- is that one needs to take an analytical look at such research before trying to form a somewhat intelligent conclusion from its data. In this particular case, one must consider that metro New York is also responsible for over 7 1/2% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product. Get it? Translation: while producing 7 1/2 % of the economic activity in the US, the Big Apple is operating at an Comparative Energy Efficiency rate of 88%. It simply uses less energy to produce more goods and services than do other cities, states and even countries. Talk about another Inconvenient Truth.

So, as opposed to the drive-by logic of the conservative right's media hacks, along with their similary hampered cousins in the blogosphere, the proper conclusion that can be gained from this report is that new urbanist tenets of encouraging urban desnity and public transportation are the proper public policies for environmental stewardship and energy conservation.

Of course, I'm assuming that such concerns are universally shared. You'd think I would know better than that, wouldn't you?

Apr 12, 2007

This bird has left its cage

As we noted on the main portal today, Kurt Vonnegut has taken his leave of this earth. Take a look at the links we put up there, both on Kurt and of his brother Bernard, who was a major player in this region's scientific research history.

When I think about Vonnegut, it brings back memories of my own undergraduate years, when it seemed lile everyone on campus would trade the curly one's novels back and forth. He truly was a BMOC, back in the day.

My heavier friends considered him a bit of a lightweight, however. Their preferences were along the lines of Hesse and Castaneda. But these were the same guys that were also into certain music -- such as Weather Report and Gentle Giant-- that I had a hard time getting my hands around, and those two writers had the same effect on me. For this middle class kid going to a middle class college and not wanting to push his brain too far into overdrive, Mr Vonnegut did the trick just fine. His works were accessible, to say the least, humorous and perfectly timed.

Not bad for a former GE-Schenectady PR flack, huh? Go check (or revisit) out his breakthorugh novel Player Piano, and see how his brief tenure over at Edison's Garage shaped his view of the world and sent him on the way to fame and glory.

Apr 11, 2007

Back to the mail bag

It's been awhile since we hit the mail sack, so here we go with a few:

To Amy in Troy: Yes, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. The rantings of a mad man, aren't they? Now you see why the individual in question needed to go somewhere else.

To Phil in Albany: Yes, the internet radio world is in a state of disbelief as it tries to figure out the logic behind the new royalty rates that were just recently handed down. This ruling is so off-the-wall, and so anti-competitive, that I am hoping Congress can / will do something about it. We're looking into the issue very closely, because the timing couldn't be worse -- for us. But then again, how would you like to be a netcaster who signed the interim agreement last year stating a set rate but who is now being told this new scale is retroactive and he owes $100,000? Figure that one out.

To Peter in Albany: We appreciate the nostalgic trip down memory lane and your fondess for ye ole 'print' edition. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. Never say never.

To Dr R at RPI: Yes, it DOES take two to tango. But my dance partners are all advised to wear steel toes.

To Kim in Poughkeepsie: Get back up here! Nothing's been right since you left. We can't even log into the accounting system anymore! Oops, never mind: we just got in.

To Kim in Poughkeepsie (again): OK, here's my contributions: If a boy; Felix. If a girl; Gladys. There, aren't you glad you asked for my input? Shall we open up this suggestion box to everyone?

To Tim in Glens Falls: I'll give you 2 to 1 against.
To Anonymous in Who Knows Where: Well, that's not a very nice thing to say. Hey; you weren't the loudmouth that felt obligated to interrupt my dining experience a few weeks ago with a similar rebuttal to that piece, were you? If so, I owe you a HUGE thanks: the owner of that place felt so bad for me after witnessing your unpleasantries that he comp'd our dinner! Maybe we can take turns doing that for each other? Where ya gonna be next Friday?
To Steve in Albany: Your comments are much appreciated; we certainly are on the same page on this matter. Now, I need to figure out a way to introduce you to Anonymous (above). He apparently disagrees with our position, and I would love to get him into your ear and out of mine.
To DJ Respect in Albany: Say what? I wouldn't know where to start with your letter; but I sure got a kick out of reading it. More, please.
To Rich in Troy: I can officially deny that rumor. Come on now: do you think I would sell out to a corporate behemoth? Besides; fighting those pesky windmills can be a blast, don't you know?

Apr 10, 2007

Random press conference from Rants

Guest Submission
Albany Rants
Ok, ok, ok. Enough already with the questions. Geez Louise, I feel like a war spy that's just been outed and I am now in a dark room with a bright light shining down on me with some mean looking bugger asking me if I'm ready to spill the beans now before he starts doing nasty things to my fingernails.
I'll take just two questions from the audience at tonight's press conference. Yes, ma'am, you in the back in the blue dress. What is your question?
"Mr Rants, why did you stop publishing your own blog?"
Because I am a lazy shit and to do an effective blog, one needs to add new entries on a semi regluar basis, at least. And that ain't me, honey. By the way, I like the outfit.
Final question. Yes, you in the back. The woman in the blue dress.
"But you just answered my question. Why are you recognizing me again?"
Beacuse the more I look you over, the hotter I think you are. Now, what's your question?
"Well, despite that comment, here it goes: Why the new relationship with TechValleyTimes? I don't get the connection."
A few reasons. One, we have a mutual friend that introduced us. He said something to the effect of "you two should hook up; there's something there that could work." I doubt it, but we'll let it play out. I will say this, though: this Millis guy is a crazy bastard and the community would be well advised to keep out of his way. He's a f'ing steamroller baby! Oh, sorry: that's the other crazy bastard setting up shop further downtown. Never mind; comment withdrawn.
Two: I had already known about TVT indirectly, as a result of my antagonizing (deuling with) some blogosphere lunatic that had some sort of past relationship gone bad issue with TVT. I figured that anyone that had rejected this clown as the buffon that he is must have his own head on straight, so I took my buddy up on his offer to sit us down together on adjoining bar stools.
Three: this guy here has a neat little trick up his sleeve--a cool business idea that he's putting the pieces together on that I want to be a part of. In other words, maybe there's some method to the madness giung on behind all this.
That's all the questions I will take today. Now, if Ms Blue Dress will kindly make her way to the podium, I have some followup comments I'd like to discuss with you.

Real estate as an economic drag

I ran into a yong man on Saturday night: 24yo; recently married, software engineer with an MBA from an Ivy school, smart as a whip and on top of the key global technology issues and trends of the day.

His late breaking bulletin: he had bought his first house the day before, made possible with a $330,000 mortgage. He emptied the resereve tank (his savings) to make his down payment and buy the requisite furnishing and insurance and all that other stuff. He appeared shell shocked from the experience. I think I was witnessing a guy that had to sneak out of the house to catch his breath. He;d better eget used to it, based on the math(i.e., house payments) he was sharing with me.

Now, what are the odds of this guy -- who when I last saw him was drawing flowcharts on a napkin of a new interactive website brainstorm he had dreamed up --- ever pulling the trigger on actually running with one of those brainstorms and taking the plung of starting his own business? With that $330K mortgage hanging over his head.

The answer: nil to within a centimeter of nil.

Misguided public policy ---- monetary; housing; transportation; taxation --- all result in a scenario whereby a 24yo kid is buying a $330,000 home. A 24yo shouldn't be. The real estate industry loves it, of course, and they hold many of the cards in the modern American power play.

You ever notice how the so-called 'business sections" of local newspapers are nothing more than a listing of local real estate transactions? Or how the town's most high profile business leaders are all the top selling agents in town?

Real estate transactions are not the type of economic development we should be executing in this day's modern global order. Public policy should reflect that reality.

Our 24yo friend should be dreaming about launching his own net business, not worrying about the trends affecting his variable mortgage payment.

Time to cut your ties, local GOP'ers

My Republican friends (yes, there are still a few of them walking around these parts) all have a similar damage control spin when it comes to responding to the charge that their national party is controlled by the lunatic right. These nuts are painted as a sort of crazy uncle, whose rantings are met with slight nods and uh-huh's before he is seated at the kid's table and ignored by the rest of the adults for the duration of the family meal. In other words, our GOP neighbors here in the liberal northeast will claim, that the wingnuts are just noisy members of the clan who really don't have any true influence within it.

Nice try, but it should be obvious to even the most casual observer that the crazy uncles have united under this Big tent and taken over the Republican party, intent on using it to re-shape the nation along their own warped view of heaven and earth. All one needs to do is watch the pummeling that Mr Guiliani is taking for being too much like, well, a New Yorker!

Here's further proof, as well as a means of giving the "we're really moderates at the core" crowd a chance to call their own bluff:

Uncle Dubya yesterday once again announced that he will veto a bill that will alow federal funding of the type of stem cell research that uses human embryos. Now, I think we would all agree that this is a good example of the current administrtation being out there. Not too many local Republicans would put their name on this policy.

But if the Congress has any chance of overriding this insanity, it would need the help of some of these so-called moderate Republicans to do so. You know, the ones that are supposedly REALLY the core of the party.

OK, then, if the GOP isn't the party of the far right, let's see them stand up and get counted on this one. After all, this stuff IS kinda important, ya know?

Apr 3, 2007

A local identity crisis

There's been some noise being made recently over the Spitzer camp's decision to frame the state's economic development outlook and planning into two regions-- Upstate and Downstate. The local buzz is over the fact that the four-county Capital Region is part of the 'downstate' designation.

The fact is, this area is what could be called a tween'er (i.e., in-between) . Its not New York City, but then again, it's not Elmira either.

It might have made sense to have designated three regions --- with the Capital Region and the mid-Hudson Valley being a distinct entity.