How do you turn this off?

Dave’s request for an iPod on/off switch made me think about power consumption for a minute.

Electronic devices, from iPods to automobiles, are never really off anymore. Our desire for instant on-ness means that these devices must always be drawing some residual power. Our first digital camera had a habit of draining its batteries even when it was turned off, meaning that everytime I wanted to use it I had to locate and install a fresh set. All of the electronics in you automobile present a constant drain for the battery as well.

Because we want our televisions to come on instantly, they are always drawing power as well. This constant draw contributes to our voracious consumption of electricity, even though we often proclaim our desire to reduce said consumption.

The provision of a real on/off switch would likely lead to the complaint that the iPod takes too long to start up. We just need to decide if instant gratification is really that important to us.

Merry Christmas.

It doesn’t take very long until the elegantly wrapped presents beneath the tree are reduced to piles of presents and crumpled wrapping paper. Based on the smiles here, I’ll assume that it was all worth it.

Now we get to have our traditional Pillsbury apple turnovers. Merry Christmas!

Do I really agree?

My son was putting textbooks away after the end of his first term at university and he noticed he hadn’t opened the CD that came with his German textbook; he hadn’t needed it ($160 for the package, yet he only uses the textbook). He showed me the shrinkwrapped CD package. On the front it said:

Breaking this seal consitutes acceptance of the licensed contained in this product.

In this case the license was visible on the back of the package so he wouldn’t been forced to agree to something he hadn’t read. I’ve see this in other cases though.

My cell phone company occasionally sends an updated license with their bills included with numerous ads and offers. They do not indicate that they have enclosed the license either on the envelope or on the bill. The license indicates that use of the service constitutes agreement with the license, but they do not indicate what, if any, changes were made from the old version. I wonder how many people read these licenses, or know that they have agreed that their information can be shared with a third party.

In the case of agreements like this, shouldn’t it be required to get explicit agreement from the customer in the case of something like this? Can a company compromise your privacy based on their statement that you have implicitly agreed to something, perhaps without even knowing it?

Cheap at twice the price.

Or ten times the price. In February the Dutch airline KLM will start allowing passengers to send and receive SMS and email messages for the not-so-low price of US $2.50, which is more than ten times the going terrestrial rate.

It is amazing that airlines can still get away with service like this.

(Link from Smart Mobs)

Embrace the present.

Johnnie Moore supposes how branding really happens:

I think what happens is that brands emerge out of the soup. After the event, a large number of Alpha Males lay competing claims to having invented them (success has many parents, failure is an orphan). As the history is written, many happy accidents are reinvented as the results of smart goal setting and thorough planning.

The crux of his comment is that in attempting to attain a goal, companies invariably fail to take into account some details of the present situation.

We might be more successful if we spent as much time understanding where we are, as where we want to be.


All cell phone providers in Canada charge a $6.95 “system licensing fee”, which is currently the subject of a class action lawsuit directed at the four Canadian companies.

Today I was speaking with a representative of one of those companies and asked about the fee. I was told that it was a government tax. When I corrected her, she told me that it was a government license fee. I corrected her again, and explained that it was the subject of a class action lawsuit. Another representative informed me that the lawsuit had been cancelled (her words), which is not true. Finally I was told that the “system licensing fee” was what the provider charged to allow me to make calls outside of my local calling area.

Is there no end to the misinformation and outright lies that cell phone companies will tell in order to suck a customer in?

Whither weather?

The weather report started this morning with “Winter storm warning” followed by a pause then “not day but tomorrow”. Knowing how accurate the weather usually is, I think I’ll stay close to home today.

Your tax dollars at work.

In the 1990s as a result of the low Canadian dollar and friendly tax credits a film industry sprung up on Ontario, eventually generating almost $2-billion in production activity. Now that tax credits aren’t so friendly and the Canadian dollar so much higher, the film industry has dwindled, down by 36% since last year with production revenues dipping below $800 million, and expected to drop another 25% this year.

It was a mere confluence of events that created this industry and made it successful. That situation has changed. Yet rather than deal with this in some way, or perhaps becoming more competitive, the film industry merely rallied to ask for a bailout from the provincial government. Today the government bailed them out.

I’ve been out of work before and it isn’t fun. But this is a government complains about the deficit that the former goverment left them. They introduced the biggest tax grab in history in the form of a health care tax premium. They won’t negotiate with doctors. Yet they have $48 million to help out an industry that seems to have lost what created it and made it effective. An industry that, given the current sitiuation, may never be competitive again.

Why is it always the government’s (read taxpayers’s) job to bail out struggling industries?