Saturday, August 6, 2011

The trouble with Android

Sales of Android phones are booming, and fabulous new Android phones are released on a regular basis. But all is not roses.

From BetaBeat:
"Why My Mom Bought an Android, Returned It, and Got an iPhone"

More bad news, from TechCrunch:
"Android’s Dirty Secret: Shipping Numbers Are Strong But Returns Are 30-40%" by John Biggs

I have commented on this many times. Android allows bloatware and crappy carrier and manufacturer builds. Apple doesn't. No matter how good or how big Android gets, this alone will assure Apple of a profitable and enduring share of the smartphone market.

I happen to love playing with my phones, changing settings, finding apps that will do exactly what I want (modifying the keyboard and limiting data usage when not on WiFi, to give two examples). But not everyone does, in fact most people don't. "Normal" people don't. Android phones need to be designed with that in mind, with the user in mind. I believe the base Android software does keep the user in mind, but I'm not so sure the carriers and manufacturers realize that.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Politics, Explained

Confused about politics? Why did the Republicans spend so damn much when Bush was in power and Republicans controlled Congress? Why are the Democrats so incompetent that they couldn't pass the tax increases that they want when they controlled the presidency and Congress (less than a year ago)?

Here is a classic cartoon that explains EVERYTHING.
"This Modern World" by Tom Tomorrow

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Perversion of the Language

This is something that will come as no surprise to anyone who follows politics. But not enough people know this: When government says they are cutting spending, THEY ARE LYING. Including the the so-called cuts in the recent debt limit increase deal. Politicians need a basic English lesson. And everyone else needs to understand what abject liars politicians are.

Ron Paul says it quite well on his website:
"When a Cut is Not a Cut" by Ron Paul

"No plan under serious consideration cuts spending in the way you and I think about it. Instead, the 'cuts' being discussed are illusory, and are not cuts from current amounts being spent, but cuts in projected spending increases. This is akin to a family 'saving' $100,000 in expenses by deciding not to buy a Lamborghini, and instead getting a fully loaded Mercedes, when really their budget dictates that they need to stick with their perfectly serviceable Honda. But this is the type of math Washington uses to mask the incriminating truth about their unrepentant plundering of the American people."

"We pay 35 percent more for our military today than we did 10 years ago, for the exact same capabilities. The same could be said for the rest of the government. Why has our budget doubled in 10 years? This country doesn't have double the population, or double the land area, or double anything that would require the federal government to grow by such an obscene amount."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The benefits of online content piracy?

Here's an interesting article that confirms something I have long believed: Music (and movie) piracy is not the huge problem music companies believe it to be. I am passionate about this, because I have first-hand experience with this. This applies to music and movies, I believe. From

"Movie industry buries report proving pirates are great consumers" by Matthew Humphries

"GfK Group is one of the largest market research companies in the world and is often used by the movie industry to carry out research and studies into piracy. Talking to a source within GfK who wished to remain anonymous, Telepolis found that a recent study looking at pirates and their purchasing activities found them to be almost the complete opposite of the criminal parasites the entertainment industry want them to be."

"The study states that it is much more typical for a pirate to download an illegal copy of a movie to try it before purchasing. They are also found to purchase more DVDs than the average consumer, and they visit the movie theater more, especially for opening weekend releases which typically cost more to attend."

"The conclusion of the study is that movie pirates are generally more interested in film and therefore spend more money and invest more time in it. In other words, they make up some of the movie industries best customers."

"Unfortunately, we will never get to read the official version of the study as the unnamed client who paid for it to be created has decided it should not see a release."

I have long wondered why record labels don't make it much easier to try out music (partial song downloads and so forth). Looks like they're on board now, but what took them so long??? For a completely random example, see this page for SHAKIRA! :)

In my personal case, I used Napster. Yes, way back when it was in its heyday. Must have been in the late 90's, or maybe 2000. I downloaded a lot of songs. And I bought more music, much more, as a result. I would read about some obscure artist I hadn't heard of and immediately search Napster and download 2 or 3 songs. If I liked the songs, I'd buy the album. These are albums I NEVER would have bought without listening first.

In one specific case, in addition to buying the album I also went to see the artist live (in some tiny venue in Minneapolis--Minneapolis was GREAT for that). That artist was Ana D, all the way from Spain. Note that the review on her page, from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, was the article that caused me to check her out in the first place. It was written by Jim Walsh, the best music critic I have ever had the pleasure of reading. His column alone was worth the subscription price to that particular newspaper.

Here is one of her songs:
Ana D - Todo Comenzo

And one more:
Ana D - Galaxia

I'm having fun digging into the past, final song:
Ana D - Va El Amor

Okay, so there are counter-arguments. Some people say that those who are passionate about movies or music are more likely to be consumers in all forms, whether paid or free. So if you cut off the free channels, they'll still keep paying for the other channels. I don't happen to agree with that. I mean, I'm sure it's partially true, but I believe that having access to music to try it out tends to boost sales if done well (consumer doesn't have to jump through too many hoops).

The large music companies remind me of newspapers. Giant, ponderous behemoths, too slow to react to a changing industry. They need to adapt or they will become extinct. And they won't be missed.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Essential Bastiat

Do you ever get sick of people saying that the government creates jobs? Because you know that it's just not true?

Well, all of this was addressed decades (centuries even) ago by Frédéric Bastiat. If you haven't read his stuff before, you should. Here is a good start. From the Library of Economics and Liberty:

"Bastiat: Selected Essays, Chapter 1, What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen"

He explains the difference between the seen and the unseen in economic analysis. The Broken Window Fallacy is also a classic. Too much great information to even summarize here. Here is Bastiat on the seen and unseen:

"There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen."

"Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil."

Bastiat makes a great point about the army creating jobs via the military. He asks, "If, all things considered, there is a national profit in increasing the size of the army, why not call the whole male population of the country to the colors?" We know why: Because anything the government provides must be taken first from others. And if it takes too much, there won't be enough to go around to fund the government.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Let's Pray, Nascar Style!

I'm typically not much for prayer. But I have to say, I like this prayer.

From YouTube:
"Best prayer EVER! Pastor Joe Nelms - Nascar Nationwide - Nashville, TN" posted by Paulk9pg