Memorial Day News

Iwo Jima MemorialFrom the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli comes today’s tech news.
The US copyright law was enacted on this day in 1790. The Who performed the loudest concert ever with 76,000 watts of amplification in 1976. Seinfeld premiered in 1990.

It’s Memorial Day.

  1. Online sales boomed last year with 51% increase over 2002. Sales reached $114 billion, representing 5.4 of all retail sales. More importantly, online margins went from zero in 2002 to 21% in 2003 and 79% of online retailers were profitable. Is it too late to buy that Amazon stock?

  2. A British beautician has won the “world’s best female inventor” award at Inpex. Paula Ward was looking for a way to keep her daughter from logging on when she was away from home. Her device, which can block broadband access and access to specific phone numbers and can be controlled remotely, was picked up by Commtel and goes on sale later this summer.
  3. Computer Associates has donated its Ingres database program to the open source community. Ingres has had trouble competing with market leaders Oracle and Sybase, but it’s a mature and solid product that will be a valuable addition to the open source world. CA hopes improvements will flow back into the code base from open source developers.
  4. 20th Century Fox and Paramount are going after an online vendor who was still selling DVD Xcopy. In a lawsuit filed in New York on Friday, the movie companies accused Technology One of selling the DVD cracking program despite a court order pulling it from the shelves. A Technology One employee said, “no one told us to stop selling it.” Don’t get your hopes up, the link to DVD XCopy is no longer on the site.
  5. If you’re willing to give up some personal information you may soon be able to get a fast pass through airport security. The TSA’s Registered Traveller program will begin testing in late June with 10,000 volunteers. Frequent flyers who want to join the program will have to pass a detailed background examination and pay an annual fee of around $100. Once approved they’ll get a card with “biometric identification” that will allow them to skip all the airport security checks except the metal detector. Wonder how long before they start auctioning these off on eBay?
  6. Ewww. The Spot is back. The Internet soap opera which burned bright but briefly nine years ago is back and coming to a cell phone near you. Sprint PCS will beam audio and pictures from the soap to your phone for $3.95 per month.
  7. For the second time in two years, an Internet unknown has won the World Series of Poker. “Fossilman” Raymer earned a seat at the table in a $150 satellite event on PokerStars.com. The patent lawyer from Connecticut won $5 million dollars and the coveted silver bracelet on Friday. The 2nd, 7th, and 9th place finishers also qualified online.
  8. The LA Times has an excellent article that brings home the human cost of IT outsourcing. Free registration required.

Listen in tomorrow at 6:45a Pacific for my weekly news commentary on KGO 810 AM in San Francisco.

8 Replies to “Memorial Day News”

  1. Thanks for the article on Cotterill, eye opening for a young person entering the tech field. Miss you on Tech TV, hopefully see you bubble up somewhere else.

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  2. I too read through the article on Cotterill. I think it is important for all of us to read. I remember growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s, hearing all of the talk about the shift of Manufacturing Jobs to other countries. In the late 80’s, in an economics class, we learned that the shifting of manufacturing jobs was a necessary rule to participate in the global economy. If we (America) refused to do that, we would not be able to develop cars (and other goods) efficiently and economically enough to sell on the open Global market. While I still struggled with some of the concepts, it seemed to make sense, and the argument was that there would be more high paying “information worker” jobs available in America. That happened.
    Now, we are in a new era (again). I find myself having lunch conversations with a friend who is working on an MBA in finance and asked him the same questions I had in the 80’s. “How is this a good thing”? He understands my struggle here — and does not have a clear answer. The easist answer he provided actually lead back to manufacturing — If Microsoft builds a Mouse overseas and can make more money on it, they can afford to do more research and development with the profit from the Mouse, here in the US. Interstingly — that is one of the arguments over the current movement to outsourcing. “The new jobs in the US now will be in the field of Research.” The answers keep coming back that we must do this to be competitive with the world players.
    In my professional life (which is why I chose a fake name on this post) — I work for a large networking company. We sell connectivity via Internet, long distance phone calls and data connections — the ability for US companies to carry telephone calls to places like India. In reality, there has been steady growth there for years, but it is now becoming known around the country with the word “outsourcing”. Even many of the employees of companies who are doing this have employees and managers who are a bit concerned about the level of outsourcing going on and questioning how can this be a good thing for America. I even read in a magazine on a recent business trip about hospitals in India with US trained surgeons and doctors who are able to perform surgery and treatment in India at 25% of the cost of the same procedures in the US. In fact, I believe that the founder of this company is a US doctor, and many of the doctors are also from the US. Given the state of the liabilty insurance requirements to practice medicine in the US, can you blame them? (Maybe my opportunity is to open an Air Ambulance service specializing in getting patients to India).
    Knowing that there is so much change going on these days in our country, our economy and in how differently our world looks in many ways from five years ago, I also find myself rethinking my own strategy of dealing with change, planning for the future and understanding where we are going. I also find it interesting seeing changes at TechTV and with Leo’s career that many of us as Leo & Screensaver fans have been feeling over the last several weeks. I had always envisioned retiring from my employer with a decent pension, maybe having some consulting business on the side or some other technical outlet that helped me financially; now, it seems that it will be a necessity, not just a fun hobby on the side.
    I’m not sure why I’m really writing this — other than the fact that maybe there is the chance that I can find some validation of my thinking — (and if not, someone can point that out too) — but the fact that I feel a lot like Cotterill. While I can not know what it is like to lose my job, I have also had to play the role of boss and tell someone old enough to be my father that his job was eliminated. (That happened within the last 12 months, and was the first time I have ever had to do that. It was not fun; I take absolutely no pride in it and was resentful that I was not able to stop the process).
    Interestingly – I also have found myself being an avid fan of the Rich Dad Poor Dad book series and had the pleasure of meeting Robert Kiyosaki and his wife at a recent seminar. What is intersting to me is the clarity with which Robert describes a lot of the changes happening in our world that arguably will find many of us unprepared for major shifts in the economy in the next ten years. I have not seen much of Robert’s ideas that actually revolve around Outsourcing yet, but there are enough other issues that he predicts including many large companies who will not be able to afford their pension plans (some of that is happening now). He also states that the current laws actually protect the corporations from having to disclose the financial stability of the pension plan to workers or investors. Robert also presents an almost unbelieveable idea that the stock market could have a major crash within the next ten years due to the baby boomer generation pulling out their 401K and IRA retirement funds in accordance with federal law (supply + demand = price — and with a very large exit of the stock market, prices could tumble). My goal is not to plug his books, but state that sadly, the world is changing and we need to change too, if we are to survive.
    Leo — my apologies for using your BLOG for what you may consider an inappropriate post (which you can freely delete) — but I really felt strongly after reading the LA Times Post that maybe there were a few of my ideas that may encourage some others to read the article and provide a similar (or opposing) point of view.
    Never-the-less — on the whole Outsourcing issue — I don’t know what the right answer really is. If we create legislation to either limit or prohibit outsourcing, where does that lead? Do we have companies who won’t be able to compete in the global market? Does it simply lower the salaries we pay for intellectual talent in the US (and will the US workers accept that)? It is indisputabely a situation leveraged by technology (telecommunications) and the low costs of the technology (telecommunications services).
    Leo, I would be curious to know what your thoughts are and those of some of the great minds you interact with as part of your network.
    Again, sorry for the long post — (and possibly being off topic).
    Sincerely
    “John”

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  3. Over half of this year’s almost 2600 entrants came from internet poker sites, so it is no surprise that one took it home. Actually first and second place both came from the same site that last year’s champion Chris Moneymaker did, and both got even more than he did.

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  4. Corporations have realized that the term “outsourcing” has negative connotations, and are changing their methods to avoid poor public perceptions. First they tell their employees that they should document their jobs so that the company can reward them with training and movement to newer, more exciting technological positions. For example, if the employee has been doing mainframe application maintenance, training and moving to PC programming is dangled like a carrot in front of them. Once the jobs are fully documented to the point that even a chimp can take them over, the corporation buys commercial property in a foreign country, hires a host of local low-cost employees, and then moves the whole technology department to their offshore location. Exxon-Mobil is currently closing down their Technological Operations in Houston, TX and moving the jobs to South America and Canada – who apparently will do the jobs for even less than the Indians and the Pakistanis.
    I too remember being told that moving manufacturing overseas would free Americans up for brighter futures in Technology. I used to volunteer to train displaced blue collar workers in Data Operations. What are we supposed to do now? I have no idea what to tell my nephew to pursue in college. Should he even bother with college, or become a plumber’s helper? (Can they outsource plumbing?)
    Welcome to the last 50 years of the Roman Empire. (Would you like fries with that?)

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