Monday, August 29, 2011

Alan Krueger - Academic, not Slasher

Alan Krueger - Academic, not Slasher

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post included a brief summary of Alan Kreuger's view of elite schools in A closer look at Alan Krueger’s academic work. 

At Xolotech we re not concerned about Kreuger's ideas about adding a consumption tax or VAT or National Sales Tax... but here is a link if you want to see additional writing by the newly nominated chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers

"The value of Harvard: In February, Krueger and Stacy Dale found that elite universities don’t seem to offer much benefit to students over lesser universities. How’d they do this? By looking at the schools students applied to. As David Leonhardt summarized: “A student with a 1,400 SAT score who went to Penn State but applied to Penn earned as much, on average, as a student with a 1,400 who went to Penn.” In other words, if you’re good enough to get into an Ivy League school, you’ll do well no matter where you go."

When you follow the link from the Klein article to the NY Times, you get one more layer of detail in an article called "Revisiting the Value of  Elite Colleges". 

Mr. Krueger gets the last word:

"My advice to students: Don’t believe that the only school worth attending is one that would not admit you. That you go to college is more important than where you go. Find a school whose academic strengths match your interests and that devotes resources to instruction in those fields. Recognize that your own motivation, ambition and talents will determine your success more than the college name on your diploma."
 "My advice to elite colleges: Recognize that the most disadvantaged students benefit most from your instruction. Set financial aid and admission policies accordingly."

Bottom Line: 

A sheepskin is more important than the price of an "elite" sheepskin. So take your 1400 SAT and go to any school you can afford - avoiding Student Loans as much as possible. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Email Overload and How to Fix It

Email Overload and How to Fix It

Nick Mehta on Mashable: 4 Reasons Why Email Overload Is Your Own Fault:

We wanted a world of open communication, and we got it. The problem is that openness cuts both ways. Regardless of the technology, we can address these issues by retraining ourselves and engaging in some serious self-discipline. There are many schools of thought on how to do it and even a grassroots movement that follows TED curator Chris Anderson’s Email Charter [linked below]. This is something I consciously work on every day and emphasize in my company. Getting communications right as a society is very simple, and it starts with me as the sender."

How to Fix the Problem: Retrain Yourself

These are older books, but the core material is just fine. I actually read the 2nd Edition of Total Workday Control, the 3rd Edition has just been released, but I hate paying full price for basic themes and concepts that I can easily adapt to new technology. 

Bottom Line:

Control your email and lead others by your great example. 


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Online College Calculators - Close Enough for Government Work

Online College Calculators - Close Enough for Government Work

SmartMoney asks the question: Do Online College Calculators Reveal True Costs?

... What's more troubling, critics say, is that some schools have made their net figures look better by subtracting loans from the cost, when ultimately, of course, they are part of the out-of-pocket total. The Institute for College Access & Success tested 16 calculators and found many problems. 

One example: The online calculator of Westminster College, a liberal arts school in Salt Lake City, came up with a net figure of $33,170 after subtracting $6,000 in scholarships, but it also showed a net price of zero after loans and work study. Asher says many families may not realize the bulk of the aid is coming from loans. But Sean View, Westminster College director of financial aid, says the school's calculator clearly marks how much aid comes from loans. "We want to show people how to get the net price down to zero with these financing options," View says." [Emphasis added.]

Net PRICE is not net COST and Student loans do not magically disappear... 

See: College on the Student Loan "Discharge" process. 
COST: outlay or expenditure, amount charged (including maintenance costs)
PRICE: value, worth

Example for consideration: 

4 years college tuition paid in cash $100,000 = $100,000
4 years college paid $25,000 cash and $75,000 loans @ 8% over 10 years = ~$134,000 or as a financing company (aka the US Government) might say: "priceless", certainly risk-less from their point of view. 

Calculation from:

Sean View is looking out for the interest of the school and not for the students or parents. Yes, Universities want you to attend their college, and graduate in four, five or six years. But they are just as interested in your tuition - and government funding is a key input to their budget. 

The Bottom Line:

Schools that do not disclose the full impact of student loans deserve scrutiny of their graduation rates and graduate placement history. 

Is it possible that the US Government is content with very low interest rates on Treasuries, since they have tapped into the jugular of student loan income?


Banks Add Fixed-Rate Loans for Students - Student Loan Debt Bubble?

Student Loan Debt Bubble?

Banks Add Fixed-Rate Loans for Students -

Most private student loans have carried variable rates, where the interest rate can adjust up or down each month. But now, for borrowers nervous about rising rates, lenders are advertising loans with interest rates that remain fixed for the term of the loan, typically 10 to 15 years. At least 12 lenders now offer fixed-rate loans, nearly double the number from a year ago, according to"

Gannet's Democrat and Chronicle report that Student Loans now Outpace Credit Card Obligations.  "Nationwide, student borrowing is estimated to have mushroomed to $931 billion — for the first time eclipsing the estimated $798 billion in credit card debt.

"We are going to hit the $1 trillion mark this year," said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the FinAid and Fastweb web sites owned by Monster Worldwide. FinAid also publishes scholarship information.

James Rosen of Fox News asks if "STUDENT DEBT: America's Next Bubble?". Rising by $100 billion a year, outstanding student loan debt now stands at about $930 billion, and is expected to reach $1 trillion by year’s end."

"Beyond dispute is the value of a higher education diploma, notwithstanding the risks associated with borrowing heavily to obtain it. Federal data last month showed an unemployment rate of under 5 percent for those with at least a college degree, compared with a rate of over 9 percent for those who only have a high school education.

Some are starting to "dispute" the value.

Justin Lahart of the Wall Street Jopurnal writes: Student Loan Debt Climbs - Real Time Economics

"Americans have cut back on credit of all kinds, with one notable exception. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s quarterly report on debt and credit, U.S. households had $11.42 trillion in debt outstanding in the second quarter. That was down from a peak of $12.5 trillion in the third quarter of 2008, when the financial crisis took hold, and the lowest since the first quarter of 2007. Mortgage debt, home equity loans, credit card debt and auto loans are all down sharply — partly because people are being more careful, but also because many have defaulted. But student loans are up sharply. There was $550 billion in student debt outstanding in the second quarter, up 25% from $440 billion in the third quarter of 2008."

Bottom Line: 

College is expensive. A degree can get you a high-paying job, but debt can really be a task master. 


Back to School - Compare Book Prices

Back to School - Compare Book Prices

MarketWatch describes the FREE Amazon Student App for iPhone Makes Back to School a Breeze:

"'Students care about getting the best deal possible on their textbooks and all of their dorm essentials, and now they can easily compare prices and save money no matter where they are,' said Julie Todaro, VP of Books at Amazon. 

'Plus, for eligible textbooks, when they're done with the book, they can scan the barcode, see the trade-in price, and submit the books for trade-in with Amazon, all right from their phone.

We just shopped for Senior year (Texas State University) and found Amazon much cheaper for our Statistics textbook. In fact, we saved enough that we ordered the Companion Study Guide as well.

We also sold our Literature and Psychology books from last semester...

Bottom Line: 
Good deal from Amazon.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Personal Brand

Personal Brand

Dorie Clark (@DorieClark) writes "Why Your Personal Brand Shouldn't Be Your Personal Brand" and remarks "... the "Expert Model," more appropriate for solo practitioners and some executives -- your personal and business brands are essentially synonymous. That's because your business model depends on you getting famous and people paying a premium to work with you specifically. Instead of selling a process or a commodity, you're selling access to your unique insights, applied to the client's situation."

Lisa Barone from Outspoken Media (@LisaBarone) chides "Get Over Yourself and Build Your Personal Brand" "There’s a twisted belief that investing in your personal brand means that you either have no life OR you have an ego. Okay, usually we’re led to believe that it means both. But ignoring your personal brand is like ignoring social media or the Web, in general. It’s a death sentence. We all need to wake up." 

Barone quotes Alan D. Mutter from UC Berkeley "Given the steady fragmentation of the media, the growing paucity of jobs and the nano-ization of freelance pay, it increasingly is up to people who want to be journalists to take affirmative action to promote their work to build audiences they can monetize so they can have satisfying and remunerative careers. This presumes, of course, that said individuals have produced quality work, a subject covered thoroughly in any proper journalism program."

The Bottom Line: 

I am NOT CREEPY (inside joke from a Austin Social Media Club (@SMCAustin), I'm INTP, OK, sometimes I test INTJ, a little inner-conflict is a good thing!
Our small business (closed as of an 2015), Texas Little Black ran headlong into the personal branding issue when trying to market "personal branding" to a market that was (is) clearly not ready to be branded. StyleSeat was able to gain some traction, but the customer is not on the social media adoption curve.

I am struggling with all of the self-branded experts in Social Media - who appear to have thousands of ideas, hundreds of tools, tons of "brand", but no curriculum vitae.


Personally, I am not ready to be branded.

In the meantime, I'm on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, write two blogs, and manage web presence for Myllyons LLC, Gelsey Kennels, and the Eagle Ridge Owners Association, while holding down a day job as a PM for eCommerce integration projects. 

On the Prowl for Thought Leadership, Falling off of the Curve

Social Media Thought Leadership 

Denis Pombrant writes for E-Commerce News: On the Prowl for Thought Leadership:
Marc Benioff said something like that at his last appearance in Boston a couple of months ago. It was said with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, but there also was a serious message embedded in the statement. Time to fish, we've cut all the bait we intend to, and if you don't land a fish pretty soon, we're going to start calling you Santiago.
"Why am I being so hard on this? I don't think I am, and if you think so, I apologize. It's just that last week the full faith and credit of the United States went into doubt for the first time. The day I am writing this, the Dow sank another 500+ points, and it's all vivid evidence that the old thinking that was sustained by ancient paradigms is finally kaput, broken and irretrievably lost. Those paradigms drove the development of our old business processes, and therefore software models too. Whether you call it by a number like one-dot-oh or something else, those paradigms are being blown away this summer after more than a decade of simmering disruption.
This was a great time for thinking people to say that all the new technologies that we are celebrating are not simply the next shiny objects but the path -- no! the lifeboat -- to the future. This is not the time to dither about whether to implement this year or next, and the time is passed for questioning whether this stuff is a fad or the real thing. It's first off a cultural shift, and it starts with Tapscott's and Williams' five major points of Macrowikinomics -- collaboration, openness, sharing, integrity and interdependence -- and what things like social, analytics, mobile and other technologies do to enable them."
[My emphasis added].

This is not a political blog, this is a blog about technology, and using inexpensive technology to achieve your goals. The emergence of Social Media, and a brand new quiver full of cheap tools, is the topic for this post. 

Three Curves to Consider

The first curve is the Gartner Hype Curve for emerging technology. Gartner has 75 different curves in their publication: Mastering the Hype Cycle. Technologies are created and migrate along this track towards productivity - some tools never make it to full adoption and productivity. Of course, there is a curve that describe the adoption life-cycle as well.

(Click on any of the graphics to see a larger version.)

The second curve is the Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation Adoption Curve. Wikipedia provides the summary: Everett Rogers "...proposed 4 main elements that influence the spread of a new idea: the innovation, communication channels, time, and a social system. That is, diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. Individuals progress through 5 stages: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation."

The third curve is from DesignDamage's When to Adopt Social Media for Your Business. "The idea of adopting new technology is to improve productivity and fuel growth, not to chase the hype or follow the trend for the sake of doing it. You need to ask yourself this: How much risk are you willing to take investing (time, resources, money) in social media? Does your organization have the resources to execute the adoption of this new platform?"

Fish, or Cut Bait?

  1. Are you and your company prepared for "collaboration, openness, sharing, integrity and interdependence"? 
  2. Have you worked through the details of "innovation, communication channels, time, and social system" (or market)? 
  3. Are you moving your customers through key phases of "knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation"? 
  4. Have you adopted the proper technology to achieve your goals?
  5. Bonus question: is any of this even necessary/achievable for small business? 

Inflated Expectations

It is my position that Social Media is suffering the growing pains of inflated expectations. Many people claim expertise when there is little standard. Some innovators, early adopters, of Social Media are also evangelists preaching their own book; "personal brand" has killed egoism. Social Media solutions that work for large corporations do not translate well for small companies. How quickly will the new tools mature? Or, will they fall off the curve? None of these are insurmountable issues, and certainly thought leadership will arise - separating the wheat from the chaff.

Bottom Line

It is early, and thought leadership is still missing.


529 Drops, Tuition Pops

529 Drops, Tuition Pops

SmartMoney has a pair of articles about the market impact to College Savings Plans: New Losses for College Savers

As colleges are about to send tuition bills, the markets have taken yet another toll on the most popular college-savings accounts in the country: 529 plans.

For the second time in three years, the popular state plans are taking losses that, while less than the broad market, are hitting teenagers starting college this year or next. In at least 14 state plans, at least some investment portfolios intended for students 17 and older are now in the red, wiping out a chunk of money that parents may have earmarked for this year's tuition. In some states, those accounts are down as much as 5% since the beginning of July, better than the 12% loss of the Standard and Poor's 500-stock index but still unpleasant for parents with tuition bills due this fall. 

Last-Minute Tuition Hikes Hit College Students: "Last month, Texas and New Hampshire announced 6% to 10% tuition hikes at some public universities. A spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board says as of now, the hikes impact two out of 35 colleges, with the potential for more to come."

Annamaria Andrioti wrote both articles and can be followed on Twitter @AAndriotis

The Business Insider poses the question: Guess The One Industry That Has Made Healthcare Inflation Look Tame? Even the best laid plans (529 or otherwise) can be undermined by poor market performance or by underestimating the inflation rate in tuition. Some funding is better than none, and it's critical to understand the recent changes to Student Loans. 

Make sure to check out the College Infographic: The Student Loan Scheme which outlines the inescapable problem of borrowing from the Government. 

Bottom Line

Check your budget, adjust your college expectations -- not your life goals. 


Has the Higher-Education Bubble Popped?

Has the Higher-Education Bubble Popped?

Doug French of the Mises Daily thinks so: The Higher-Education Bubble Has Popped 

"Among the members of the class of 2010, just 56 percent had held at least one job by this spring, when the survey was conducted,' reported the Times recently. 'That compares with 90 percent of graduates from the classes of 2006 and 2007.'

And because they can't find jobs, 85 percent of college grads move back in with their parents after they graduate. According to a poll by Twentysomething Inc., a marketing and research firm based in Philadelphia, that rate has steadily risen from 67 percent in 2006."

The Los Angeles Times Counters

College: The Smart Choice: "Let's assume that you're a high school graduate and you have $102,000 to invest in your future. Is college your best bet? Or would you be better off putting the money into an alternative investment, like stocks or bonds, and earning the salary of a typical high school graduate over your lifetime?"

Ben Casnocha is More Extreme. In his article Who Should and Should Not Be Going to College, he segregates his recommendation by high school under-achievers (discourages), high achievers (encourages), and a 5-10% very high achievers. For the very high achievers he suggests the "Real Life University", finding mentors and advisors and chasing the entrepreneurial rabbit.    

The Bottom Line

Let's assume that I am tall, rich, and smart... Jeffrey Tucker at the Mises Institute scribes a poignant lament "overeducated, underemployed, and with no marketable skills: the U.S. looks more and more like a European-style welfare state," as the well educated take jobs that would have gone to the less educated.   

The 2+2 formula - two years community college, then two years at a four year college is likely to gain traction. You get your degree from a great school and would still have $40k+ in your pocket.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Google Music – Designed by Experts

Google Music – Designed by Experts

The original title was going to be “Designed by Interns”, but no intern would ever make these mistakes. I then toyed with “Designed by my Grandma” before deciding to level the most harsh criticism I could muster.  

The overall effort for Google Music Beta is poor, certainly not up to other Google apps -- I love Picasa, Voice/GrandCentral and Blogger). Maybe there is a pattern. I think those other apps were built outside, acquired, and re-branded. Can anyone provide the answer?

In real life I am an IT project manager. I don’t usually get to drive requirements, only “guide” my business partners to better solutions. In this case I’m the customer… and here are my demands!

Top Things to Fix:

The upload process. 

I have music in two formats on my PC - WMA and MP3. Why? The additional bit depth in WMA makes for better playback on large stereo systems. For headphones – who cares? And, for the road trip CD, MP3 makes sense, 150+ songs on a CD!

Best Upload Process Suggestion: 

Steal from Apple, or, create your own library, upload the META data first, run a compare, request uploads for only the unmatched content (this blog is under Creative Commons license, so you can steal from me if you like). Another option: call Dell, they have some really cool de-dupe tools.

Upload started Sunday 8/7/2011 and finished Saturday 8/13/2011 just after 2:00pm. 11150 songs, 142 hours at the rate of ~78 songs per hour.

G Music Almost Done

META data fixes

Editing data at the Album level makes sense – so that you can avoid splitting an album. However, compilation albums, samplers, and soundtracks have multiple artists.

When you try to reduce the duplicate albums by setting the Artist as “Soundtrack” it breaks the link from the individual artist. For example: I am no longer able to search for all “Madonna” songs. Her work on Evita is going to get lost. One layer of Meta is missing.

G Music Meta Fail

META Data fixes (part II) 

Enable META data editing at the song level. This will allow tagging of artists within a Soundtrack, Sampler, or other compilation album. And, it would allow clean up of the “Various” and “Unknown” collection. 

Best META Suggestion: 

Create a spreadsheet view with multiple columns and allow bulk edits of all data elements (Bonus idea: add a couple user-defined fields for a pinch of coolness. I’d love to track Elfman or Eno or Costello across multiple albums, bands and genre).

Duplication Management (See also Track 11 and Track 12). 

So my WMA and MP3 versions are both included in the upload and now I want to go and delete the less quality (MP3) version… There is no way to determine which is which, no way to sort within the album, and no way to select multiple items to be deleted. In one case I had a single album upload 57 songs, rather than the correct 22 tracks. Overall Google Music reports 11150 songs for 607 albums or ~18.4 songs per album. Considering the number of “albums” I have with only 1 song, you can see the scope of the problem.

Improve Album Art Graphic Quality

They call it “Album Art” for a reason. I can onlyG Music Pink describe the current graphics as “Atari-esque”. A relational database of cover art seems logical – but maybe Google is storing an image with every album for every account and feel the need to save a bit or two. Also, I’m glad you have art for “16 Hits of Hawaii” by the Hawaiian Surfers, but why are you missing the Cars “Heartbeat City”? And your album art coverage of Classical music is poor. 

Best Album Art Suggestion

Quit squeezing pennies and/or bits, and provide better graphics. Bonus idea: make sure user uploaded art is checked, then share it with everyone.

Processor Demand by Music Manager

If the upload is limited by G Music CPU 2internet connection speed, what is Music Manager doing to with all of the extra processing cycles?

Greater than 25% CPU for 6 days… Bad code… bad code… go sit in the corner.

Best Music Manager Suggestion:  

Check your code (simple, yes?), or consider packaging the upload rather than raw streaming, or see item 1.

“Track 11” and “Track 12” (songs with no titles). 

Apple provides track info. Microsoft provides track info. How could this be missed? Again, Google probably has this information, and a 5 second sample could probably match up the album/artist/song data. If you can use facial recognition (Picasa) on a photo, why not a similar function on music? 

Best Track 11 Suggestion: Apply a really cool Google Algorithm to ID the track then give the user a chance to accept your suggested changes.

Genre Management

Al Jarreau is a vocalist, but the album probably deserves a “Jazz” Genre. There is no way to move the album into another Genre from the Genre view. And, again, tracks from some albums are sprinkled across different genre. I suspect most of Toad the Wet Sprocket will be under Rock or Alternative, and not in Vocal. 

Best Genre Management Suggestion

Allow META data edits in all views (or, see recommendation above).

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Music rating is not binary, please consider a simple scale of 1 to five from I HATE THIS to I LOVE THIS. Or, for more fun “Bing This” to “Google This”.  Also, if you have song duplicates, it is possible to rate the same song with both a UP and a DOWN. Why not a “Thumbs Down” search – so that you can build that perfect gift CD for your evil twin brother that really likes Abba (or maybe for your wife that likes ABBA).

Best Ratings Suggestion: Life is not only 0 and 1, try 2, 3, 4, 5 (go wild!) and, a qood QA team is worth their weight in gold.

Google Music Help

This section gets the same minimalist functionality of other Google services. But a nice “Quick Start” guide would be a huge help. And really…. not a single Help article on managing duplicates??? Oh, yeah, that really doesn’t work at all.

Best HELP suggestion: write a decent quick start guide, or have a “Dummies” author do one that you give away for free.

G Music Help 


Other things to consider:  

The world needs an upside down “i” for Pink (using the “!” mark is not proper grammar). And, we need a Alt-xxx character code for the artist formerly known as Prince – since he doesn’t want us to call him Prince.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Amazon Cloud Drive to Infinity and Beyond

Amazon Cloud Drive to Infinity and Beyond covers the increase to Amazon Cloud Drive now offers unlimited music storage.

Amazon Cloud Drive still offers 5GB of free storage to every Amazon customer. If you purchase a song from Amazon MP3 however, the song is automatically added to your Cloud Drive, and you won’t get docked for the space that song requires. It’s important to note that this unlimited storage for all of your music only comes with the purchase of a storage plan, with the lowest tier being 20GB for $20 per year. The goal is to make the combination of Amazon MP3, Amazon Cloud Drive, and Amazon Cloud Player even more competitive."

Purchasing an MP3 on Amazon is simple.

Pick your music, click to buy, and presto, it's added to your Cloud Drive. Yep, it's that easy.

Playing Your Music

You can play your music catalog directly, including random and replay at the album and library level. This is pretty much the same experience as Google Music Beta. The Cloud Player App installed without issue (Win7 64-Bit) and data moves were quick. But managing duplicates is still elusive. 

As much as the layout looks like a typical Windows file structure, you cannot move items between folders. Your collection of Elvis Costello and his work with Armed Forces, The Attractions, Burt Bacharach, Brodsky Quartet, and Kojak Variety, will still be split into multiple folders. Google Music Beta (still invitation only) solves this by letting the user edit the album Meta data. 

Evaporation and Precipitation

Unlike the Kindle Cloud Reader which clearly identifies where your data is located, it is difficult to determine if your music is only in the cloud or if it has been downloaded to your other devices. If I could push for one more requirement in the next version...


Google Books Bows to Apple, New Kindle App Rocks!

Google Books Bows to Apple, New Kindle App Rocks!

PC World writes and we agree and add on: Google Books Bows to New Apple App Store Rules and Amazon Books proves HTML5 can be beautiful!

"The Google Books app allowed users to read books from Google's e-books service, as well as provide access to a Web-based version of the store. But under widely debated new Apple rules, companies like Google, Amazon or Kobo have to give Apple a 30 percent cut of their sales via iOS, by implementing Apple's in-app purchasing system, rather than keeping all proceeds to themselves with their own in-app sales systems. 

Amazon was one of the first major players to bow down to Apple's rules (and power, controlling 220 million iOS devices), and updated the Kindle iOS app and removed a button that linked to the Kindle Store on the Web. At the same time, Amazon made it more inconvenient for users of the app to buy content from its store (via Safari), but at least this way it is not sharing 30 percent of sales with Apple. Barnes & Noble's Nook app and Kobo's e-reader app have had similar changes made."

Amazon has an Ace in Their Pocket writes, Amazon unveils iPad-friendly Kindle Cloud Reader: "the Amazon Cloud Reader has finally been unveiled. Following in the musical footsteps of Amazon’s Cloud Player, the Reader allows browser-based perusing of all your Kindle purchases. Right now, however, only a pair of browsers are officially supported: Google Chrome and Safari. If you visit with any other browser, you’ll be advised to download one of the others in order to use the service."

Their HTML5 based  Kindle Cloud Reader User Interface is beautiful. It is clean, simple to understand, clearly shows what you have on the Cloud and what is on your device. I've opened content on four different devices - Android tablet, laptop and two different desktops) and was able to resume reading on the same page. (History major, joygasm!)

I suspect Google will not be far behind with an HTML5 solution for Google Books. 

Which begs the question: will application providers that reach a certain size (revenue level) bail out of the Apple store by deploying HTML5? Why cut Apple in for 30%? Small developers may still want the distribution support, but the closed Apple environment may be reduced to a proof of concept or a test bed until an App bootstraps into profitability. And, now is reporting that Apple is urging some app developers to increase their prices. 

At what size will an App abandon the iStore like Amazon and Vudu?


Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Swamp Castles

Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Swamp Castles covers the maturing Android OS is their post: Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich due in October – Cell Phones, Mobile Device Technology News and Updates

Still, Google has plenty of big things planned for Ice Cream Sandwich. Among them are extensive improvements to the Android camera app, facial recognition technology, and a resolution-agnostic experience. That last bit is particularly important, since it will help developers streamline the coding of their apps for Android. As we’ve heard (and seen) so many times before, apps can make or break a platform, and that’s a problem that continues to plague the current crop of Android tablets. There simply aren’t enough quality tablet-ready apps to allow the Droid army to fully compete with the iPad."

Why Apple Dominates

Seeking Alpha supports the argument in their article, Why Apple Still Dominates Tablets "Google came out with an advanced version of Android for smartphones known as GingerBread, which isn’t compatible with tablets. It rolled out a separate version for tablets named Honeycomb. The next OS, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, will work on both smartphones and tablets but will not be available until Q4 2011 or after by many reports. By that time, Apple will have already extended its lead in the tablet segment."

Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich - Apple is not junk food.

The Toshiba Thrive that I own runs Honeycomb. Honeycomb is clearly missing functionality, so I would argue that the number of "quality tablet-ready apps" may only be a symptom of an unstable, immature OS. 

Android, an OS so immature that is deserves a Monty Python reference: 
FATHER: One day, lad, all this will be yours!
HERBERT: What, the curtains?
FATHER: No, not the curtains, lad. All that you can see! Stretched out over the hills and valleys of this land! This'll be your kingdom, lad!
HERBERT: But, Mother...
FATHER: Father, I'm Father.
HERBERT: But Father, I don't want any of that.
FATHER: Listen, lad. I've built this kingdom up from nothing. When I started here, all there was was swamp. All the kings said I was daft to build a castle in a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show 'em. It sank into the swamp. So, I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. An' that's what your gonna get, lad -- the strongest castle in these islands.
HERBERT: But I don't want any of that... I'd rather, sing!

Recession Widened Education Gap

Recession Widened Education Gap

The Wall Street Journal adds to the college cost/benefit conversation: Recession Widened Education Gap in Job Market - Real Time Economics:

The job gap between more- and less-educated workers has widened steadily over the past 40 years as technical change and off-shoring placed huge competitive pressures on industries like manufacturing that traditionally employed workers that lacked a college education. But the recession intensified the process, says economist Adam Looney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute.

In the current job market, it can sometimes be difficult to convince students that what they’re doing is worthwhile, so Ms. Williams shows them statistics on how much better off people tend to be for getting a degree. Not only do workers with associate degrees have lower unemployment rates than workers who didn’t go beyond high school, Labor Department statistics show their weekly earnings were 23% higher in 2010."

The High School Diploma is not sufficient as global competition from educated third-world countries continues to expand. More studies are showing that an Associates Degree, is valuable, and SmartMoney recently published an article about the Payback Score comparing tuition and alumni salaries.

Cost-benefit analysis comes to higher education: See our 50% solution for Austin area students.


Google Music Beta–Not Better

Google Music Beta–Not Better

So the experiment started a few days ago... Sunday 8/7 about 4:00 in the afternoon. My Dell XPS420 was acting up (the video kernel broke and the XPS has a rare BSOD). So, to protect my music library and try the "store one place, use anywhere" concept, I decided to take advantage of the free Google Music service that came with my Toshiba Thrive.

Application Install

The Google Music app came pre-loaded on Android, and a small application was downloaded and installed on Win7 without any setup issues. The app restarts with Windows and has a very basic set of user options.

Music Upload

The key limitation to the service appears to be internet upload speed. I have Time-Warner Cable (Roadrunner) with TurboBoost which has tested well for upload and download speeds. The network meter is pinned to max-upload and my quad-core CPU running at ~30% across all four cores. Yes, I can cook a pork chop on my Dell.

When you compare the upload process to the Apple iCloud "No Upload" process, Google Music is a clunker. And, when you consider that Google is expert at identifying and classifying data, this process makes even less sense. Apple made the correct (legal) moves to get their process right. I suspect that a full 90% of my collection would not have to be transferred when using the Apple model.

As of Friday 8/12 at 9:30am only 8160 songs and 612 albums have transferred. Only 3000 more songs and 200 more albums to go! 
G Music 2011 08 11

Library Features

My library has plenty of Punk-Rock imports. Neither Apple nor Microsoft seemed to be able to make and assign the proper ID and cleaning up duplicates requires a PhD in Math, (I'm only a lowly MBA). Google Music Beta has done a good job identifying my albums, assigning album art, and has a quick fix for those hard to match items (directly changing the album META data).


Yes, I have a couple of Invites left. Google Music might be worth the wait - since it is free. Additional comments on Library management, playlist, and streaming capability will follow. Ping me if you want one (don't blame me afterwards).
Now, if I can just convince myself to spend money to try the Apple service.