How soon until we see online durable goods purchases completed in all parts but delivery and installation? It seems like most of these types of purchases are still viewed directly or 'test driven' in some way before the purchase. A fiance-to-be often wants to make his choice of the diamond ring and families that choose new bedroom sets go to the store to test the smoothness of the handle. In both cases neither of these actions probably matter all that much. The fiance knows less about the stone than its seller knows about him and the family wouldn't hinge a purchase on the hinges would they? I think the reasoning might be is that people believe these large purchases require their action - however irrelevant and misguided - to affirm that a purchase is a good choice.
Their better course of actions may have been to spend that additional time online, weighing costs, options, reviews, attributes and the other information readily available for nearly any purchase in the Internet age. Those data definitely won't tell you which ring your girlfriend wants but in many cases your trip to the store won't either.
Websites : Microsoft Powerpoint
I was listening to a podcast last week when the commentators were reliving the revelations that Microsoft Excel brought to those using spreadsheets on a regular basis. My usage is limited to grades, basic functions and limited visual basic but I do appreciate what it offers.
This also made me consider why haven’t websites usurped Microsoft Powerpoint as a preferred means to supplement lectures at the college level. It seems – at least through my uses – that Powerpoint requires too many plug-ins, hyperlinks that take time to launch and load, and facilitate this evolution from exciting topic to information being read from slides. In my classes students are suggested to keep these ideas in mind and not use Powerpoint if they don’t feel it is a strength for them.
Websites can offer many of these same things but with greater flexibility, through code and API, and be more readily available to the students. Hyperlinks won’t sloth as one program calls another and the things we could embed, endless. As the cloud computing trend continues and once complicated aspects of the internet – like blogging – become standardized and automatic I think some hybrid will eventually form.
A month ago a friend turned my onto The Best American Science and Nature Writings and it is excellent. I ordered the 2009 edition and was wrapped as tightly into the essays as a pre-Christmas snuggie actor. Three fourths of the essays were excellent and the other fourth I skipped. Getting this book – a steeply discounted used edition no less – allowed me to collect the best articles on Science and Nature without subscriptions to Science or Nature as well as Wired, The Atlantic, The New Yorker and other fine publications but ones that when I subscribe, collect on tables instead of being read.
Part of my enjoyment of this series is the filtering it allows. My books to-read list grows faster than my read list and this is only cluttered by teaching, journals, blogs and whatever else arises on a daily basis. This series will hopefully continue to fill this interest and allow me to read even more, by ironically, reading less.
I ridded myself of my smart phone. For two years I had an iPhone 3g and for two weeks a DroidX and then two days ago traded the later for a generic LG. It’s not entirely impossible, but very likely I was the only person in the Verizon store trading down – here’s why.
My smart phone wasn’t really a smart decision. I was reflecting on the major apps I used for both the Droid and iPhone; camera, evernote, email, text, phone, facebook, gps, maps, instapaper, ipod and runkeeper and thought the net positive for these apps wasn’t nearly that high. I’ll very likely miss the camera, especially the HD video from the DroidX but I also have a really nice DSLR that maybe will get out of it’s bag more often without a cell phone camera crutch. My current phone has call and text functioning and my Google voice account can serve the void left by evernote while texting can update my however unexciting facebook and twitter updates. I will likely miss the location based search feature as after trading in phones I was looking for the nearest sporting goods store but was unable.
What I won’t miss is the data plan cost. It was $30 monthly to have access to data 24/7 and I’m already planning on how to spend that money. Roughly my downgrade has upgraded me to; 72 used books, 3 days of all inclusive skiing, gas for a year, three GPS units to accommodate for being lost, a 32” LCD TV or whatever medium repairs befall my car. I feel rich.
I’ll also be left without the apologies about fat fingered misspellings from an email that “just couldn’t wait” or engaging in social media in an unsocial medium. Psychologically we all define our recent behaviors as regret free and repeatable but I think this was a genuine good choice. If I ‘pocket dial’ your number please know that is a fault of mine, one where no smart phone will likely be smart enough.
I just finished Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs; a book that could be subtitled A low culture philosophy primer. It’s always surprising to read Klosterman because his subject manner seems distant from his expression. He writes in such an elegant way about Guns n Roses tribute bands and Star Wars movies. I’ve read each of his essay books so far published, though not in published order, and enjoyed them all. Unfortunately I think I’m one of the last. Klosterman writes for people in a very limited age range limited by experiences of popular culture. While many people experience this culture – it is the popular choice – there are bands, movies, moments, experiences and music he comments on that aren’t fully understood. This is part of the experience. Any decent op-ed in any paper will tie a pair of points in some sort of literary equivalent of a square know, a good one will resemble a consecutive line of sailing knots but Klosterman makes an entire web. As all of the lines and intersections contribute to a ‘good’ spider web each of the references in the book makes it’s web more complete. It’s easier to write for simple knots for simpler readers and not worry about their missing points. This and other Klosterman books don’t do that. They aim for an entire web, one you may get tangled in.
When watching the Rose Bowl game this weekend I was struck by the division of the stadium stands based on the colors, red and purple, of the two teams playing. It was clear which team was offered which set of tickets and which, in this case Wisconsin red, purchased more. I found a similar picture online from a past Rose Bowl and the split pattern was the same, each collision of colors was located behind the end zone.
The seats behind each endzone are typically the cheapest and I wonder if more fights break out there because rival fans in cheaper seats have less incentive not to fight. If the split was at the fifty yard line on each side then those fans would be paying more to sit there and consequently have more to lose. Fans who paid $40 per ticket and saw their team losing in the second quarter might be quicker to anger and violence with a rival than those with the $100 tickets.
I try to listen to as little discussion of sports by professionals because the hyperbole is numbing. It's much like talk radio and politics where the anouncers, studio host, and pregame shows try to out radio-clip each other. They need to be the ones that decide a player has 'arrived'. A guy 'makes it to the show' or that he's a 'veteran player' which is the respectful way to say slow and intelligent when compared to the average viewer he's still probably faster than and less.
One trend this year in the NFL is that guys are now 'bigger, faster and stronger' and I wanted to see if this was true. I choose to see if the kinetic energy of NFL linebackers had changed in the past five years (all ESPN.com has data for). I took their NFL combine 40 yard dash time and weight to find their kinetic energy.
This isn't de facto evidence but does suggest players aren't getting bigger, faster, AND stronger.
Google doc file.
Watching the Packers against the Eagles NFL playoff game I was struck when broadcaster Troy Aikman suggested that with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and down by 11 points the Eagles should attempt a field goal from the two yard line instead of going for a touchdown. Aikman's logic was that the Eagles needed to score twice - values of 3 and 8 though in either order - to send the game into overtime and instead of risking the chance of not getting any points it was better to take the 3 at that moment.
He's wrong. In the best situation for the Eagles - and what ended up happening - was that they would have their current possession and one more and need scores in each. Those possible scores were, 3 + 3*, 3 +8, 8 + 3, 8 + 7. What nearly happened except for one poorly thrown ball was the final option and the one Aikman neglected.
To think about this in terms of game theory where we value wins as 2, ties as 1 and losses as zero, kicking a field goal on the penultimate possession yields only .5 in value whereas a touchdown that turn gives 1.5.
Described action at the 5:40 mark.
From The Big Short
where taxis appeared haphazardly and out of nowhere to meet them, like farm trout rising to corn kernels.
Are video games the most common source of youth additions and if so, will they one day bear a warning parellel to those on cigarette cartons. This study might suggest so.
"Greater amounts of gaming, lower social competence, and greater impulsivity seemed to act as risk factors for becoming pathological gamers, whereas depression, anxiety, social phobias, and lower school performance seemed to act as outcomes of pathological gaming."