Ditching the Apple iPhone . . .
I very patiently waited for the iPhone to go 2nd generation, move to a 3G network, and work the kinks out. I got one two weeks ago, and it is likely to get returned some time over the next two weeks.
Why? As a toy, it is delightful. It is a wonderful gadget which is endlessly amusing to play with. I very much am going to miss it when it goes back.
As a phone, it is all but useless. At least, that is the case in my neighborhoods, which include the North shore of Long Island, and Manhattan. (That any wireless network doesn't have 5 bars throughout all of Manhattan is completely inexcusable).
<sigh> Its gorgeous, lovely toy. If only it worked as a phone . . .
The candy slab of delicious glass reminds me of a story from my college days. I went to SUSB Stony Brook, and near the campus was an exotic car showroom. The owner was a very kindly older Italian gentleman, who was endlessly patient with me, a poor college student. I fascinated by what looked like a museum showroom filled with very expensive Aston Martins, Jaguars, and Ferraris, and the like. I couldn't even pay for the premium gas to fill any of them up, but he treated my like a potential customer. You could not ask for a classier car salesman.
I sometimes stopped by when they weren't busy, and this gentleman driver -- with his delightful accent, thinning gray hair and a huge handlebar mustache -- would educate me on automotive history. I loved the Astons, and he showed me the elegance of the older Ferraris, and the racing dynamics of the newer machines.
One day, a white Lamborghini Countach showed up on the showroom floor. It was weird and angular and futuristic and unlike any other car I had ever seen (this was 1983 or so). I asked him about it, and he cringed. He put his finger over his lips, as he tsk-tsked, and slowly shook his head "no."
In that charming Italian accent, he said something to me I have never forgotten: "The Lamborghini, she is like a beautiful woman that is very bad in bed."
Being a wiseass, my instant response was obvious: "Oh, yeah, I dated her for a while."
We both smiled.
I have never had the opportunity to retell that story -- until now.
The iPhone -- like that Lamborghini -- is gorgeous and exotic and unlike anything else you have ever seen. But as a phone in the NYC area, it just does not work well. As my Italian automotive professor would say, "she is just like that beautiful woman who is very bad in bed."
Lately, I have been playing with Posterous -- a no coding necessary, post by email blog site. Email text, pictures, mp3s, whatever -- Post@Posterous.com -- and it appears like magic.
It is absurdly simply to use, and I already see how it is going to impact how I work. I typically gather a few links, stories, photos each day. Most of the time, they get saved for later, as the time sensitive data and news stories get priority. So I end up with links, email, articles at home, in the office, on the laptop.
This makes it easy to gather all of the items I may want to post or save for posterity.
I also like the clean light Google inspired interface. I'm not sure what the business model is, other than ramping up subscribers and selling eyeballs.
The whole package is very, very clever.
From a time perspective, something had to give -- and the main casualty was the Linkfest. It was a huge timesuck, and I have been using the hours on other (hopefully more) productive projects.
However, I continue to see very interesting articles that many people have likely missed. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list or even a narrative -- its actually kinda random.
No time for a full fest, but (but enough Ben Steinery!) here's a quick flavor of what you may have overlooked:
INVESTING & TRADING
• Nasty, brutish and short (Economist on shortselling)
• Mail Delivery as Economic Bellwether (Portfolio)
• Sentiment read: Are We Too Gloomy? (TBP)
• Bye, Bubble? The Price of Oil May Be Peaking (Barron's)
MonoDuoline Downgrade Fallout: Muni Prices, MBIA Collateral (naked capitalism)
-Lean-and-Mean Is Paying Off for the Economy (BusinessWeek)
-BW: 10.8 million jobs is trivial? (CEO Economic Update)
• Profits Plunge, Buybacks Don’t (Floyd Norris)
• New Crisis Threatens Healthy Banks (Washington Post)
• President Bush was inaugurated 7.5 years ago -- and S&P500 returns are negative since (Angry Bear)
• Yes, We Will Have No Bananas (NYT)
• Podcast: China is a Giant Pac-Man (Disciplined Investor)
• What Happens if We’re Wrong? (Peter Bernstein, NYT)
Better title: What Happens WHEN We're Wrong?
• I did a long radio interview for World Affairs Monthly Interview covering, well,just about everything: Insanity Distilled.
• CEO Economic Outlook Index (Business Roundtable)
• What Conspiracy? (TBP)
• The Real Cost of Living Index: 9.5% (Telegraph)
• The Economy Why It’s Worse Than You Think (Newsweek)
• Fed's Bear Stearns Books Look Prime for Cooking (Bloomberg)
• Walter Bagehot Was Wrong James Grant of the Fed (NY Sun)
• Market Has Irrational Expectations for the Fed (Bloomberg)
• Anatomy of a Meltdown: The Credit Crisis 3 part series (Washington Post)
• The FHA Time Bomb (WSJ)
• Did Bank of America write the Dodd bailout bill? (LA Times)
• Subprime Mortgages: What, Where, and to Whom? (Federal Reserve Board)
• The Case (Almost) for Drilling (Slate)
• Smart, funny, blond and British: Video: What's not to love about Lara Logan? (Daily Show)
TECHNOLOGY & SCIENCE
• Healthy Returns – How to Live Longer (Barron's)
• Plastics unite to make unexpected 'metal' (New Scientist)
• How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic (Gristmill)
• AT&T hedges bets, advertises iPhone 3G "real world" speeds of 1.4Mbps (GMSV); See also iPhone running Windows XP (ZD)
• Water-fuel car unveiled in Japan (Video)
• Diamonds on Demand (Smithsonian magazine)
• Thank goodness! -- Guzzling coffee may cut heart disease (New Scientist)
• And the Survey Says... The surprisingly accurate Family Feud surveys (free WSJ)
• Ben Stein's Expelled Exposed: a case study in antiscience propaganda (Scientific American)
• Heavyweight physics prof weighs into climate/energy scrap (The Register)
MUSIC BOOKS MOVIES TV FUN!
• Steely Dan, one of the most interesting bands in America, is on Tour (TBP)
• Success Story 2: Review of The Pixar Touch (NYT Review of Books)
• Music blogs' network effect (Fortune)
• So much for Big Music's plans for "360" (Silicon Alley Insider)
• Copyright and the World's Most Popular Song (Research)
• How to Nap (Boston Globe)
Got a comment, suggestion, link idea? Or do you just have something on your mind? The linkfest loves to get email! If you've got something to say, send email to thebigpicture [AT] optonline [DOT] net.
Google Proximity: Informational Distance Between Cities
Fascinating infographic showing the "Google-Platonic: distances between cities.
It measures the intensity of relations -- interconnections, information, transactions -- between metropolitan areas.
It works by comparing the number of pages from different cities that appear close to each other online, with the number of pages that are isolated -- the "Google proximity" of differing Cities
Pretty damned cool:
12 Questions on Markets and the Economy
Today we are going try something a little different.
Rather then synthesize what's in the news, flavored with my opinions, I am going to ask several questions -- and leave the answering to you, the reader:
1) Economy: Is the US in a mild recession, or, will we successfully
avoid one? How weak is consumer spending, and how much further can it fall? Might the US be entering a significant and
2) Inflation: How much inflation is in the system? How high are inflation expectations? Under normal circumstances, inflation moderates as an economy cools. Why has that not yet happened in the United States? Will it happen in the coming year?
3) Fed cuts: Are any further Fed cuts coming? Has the market accepted the possibility that more Fed cuts are unlikely? Are equities priced for potential Fed increases as a response to inflation?
4) Market technicals: Markets have been very choppy, with advances narrow, low volume affairs. Will the March lows holds? How fraught with danger are current market conditions? How significant is the failure of major indices at the 200 day moving average? The NASDAQ is holding up much better than the S&P or Dow -- Why?
5) Employment: How strong or weak is the job market in the United States? Why has job creation been so weak this cycle? Why are new unemployment claims still below 400,000? Why have we not seen layoffs in the multi-100,000 range? Is employment significantly affecting sentiment polls? What are the odds of a robust jobs recovery in the next 12-24 months?
6) Housing: Has the real estate market bottomed yet? How much further will home prices fall? When will inventory of real estate get worked down? When will home sales turnaround? When will real estate stop negatively impacting the macro economy?
7) Credit crunch: How much damage has been done to the financial sector? How much damage will be done in the future to the banks and brokers? Are we in the ninth inning, as some have posited, of the credit crunch? Or, do we still have all way to go, to work away through financial issues?
8) Tax rebate checks: Are they stimulating the economy? Are they merely paying for food and gas price increases?
9) Politics: What is the most likely outcome of the United States elections in November? How likely is a significant increase in the razor thin Democratic majority in the Senate? In the House? How likely is a full Democratic sweep including the presidency? What are the economic and market repercussions of such an event?
10) Sentiment: Why is sentiment so negative? Is it the war, employment, gas prices -- or something else altogether? Has sentiment reached an extreme level where it can be considered a contrary indicator?
11) Data analysis: There's been lots of chatter (elsewhere as well as here) about the reporting of economic statistics by the United States government. How accurate is the data that we get out of the BLS, BEA, Census Department, Federal Reserve, and other official outlets? Have we reached the point where this data has lost significance? What does this do to the credibility of these governmental agencies? Is it possible that this data can be improved?
12) Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan: The economy seems to have
pushed the Middle Eastern war(s) off the front pages of the newspapers. How good or bad are
things progressing in Afghanistan? How about the war in Iraq? There is
a continued buzz about a late summer or early fall assault by Israel
against the nuclear facilities in Iran (with tacit US approval). How
would this affect the price of oil? The global economy? The elections
in the United States?
Please feel free to answer fully and completely in the comments section.
Mac Market Share: 7.8%
Even though I don't believe it, it is an encouraging data point for those of us who are not Windows fans:
Apple’s (AAPL) share of the operating system market grew 5.69% in May to hit a record 7.80%, while Windows in all its flavors dropped half a point to 91.17%. That’s a record low for Microsoft (MSFT), which nonetheless still runs on 9 out of 10 computers on the Internet, as Net Applications measures it (more on its methodology below).
Mac hits record 7.8% market share in Net Applications survey
Apple 2.0, June 1, 2008, 6:33 am
Coming soon: 3G iPhones?
Cool sleuthing by ImportGenius:
Searching for shipments to Apple, Inc. (AAPL), employees at the Scottsdale, Ariz., company reported on Friday that they’ve spotted a “major spike” since mid March in ocean containers marked with a mysterious new label: “electric computers”
“They have never before reported this product on their customs declarations,” says ImportGenius managing director Ryan Peterson, who notes that there has been no corresponding falloff during this period of shipments labeled “desktop computers” or any of the other labels Apple usually uses.
ImportGenius is a search engine that gathers “competitive intelligence” by monitoring U.S. Customs records of ocean containers entering American ports.
Hat tip: Apple 2.0 blog by Fortune
Previously: Coming Soon: $200 Apple iPhone 3G
Mysterious Apple Product Arrives in North America. Could it be the iPhone?
Import Genius, May 23, 2008
Coming Soon: $200 Apple iPhone 3G
Hints, signs and portents are starting to pile up that Apple (AAPL) will soon deliver unto the world the 3G iPhone that has been heralded in prophecy ever since the current model was born.
That's according to GMSV, who also note:
* Apple announced there are no more iPhones left in its U.S. and U.K. online stores.
* Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says the devices are in short supply at many of the retail outlets as well.
* AT&T’s product listing includes a new option — “iPhone Black,” the rumored color of the 3G model.
* Apple has confirmed to Fortune that Steve Jobs will deliver a keynote address on June 9, the first day of Apple’s World Wide Developers conference.
* AT&T told retail employees not to schedule any vacation between June 15 and July 12 to ensure sufficient staffing for “an exciting Summer Promotional Launch.”
I have steadfastedly refused to buy the first gen, 2G iPhone. I have no need for a pricey gadget that only works on a slowpoke network, and neither do you. (Not that this small quibble prevented 10 million people from buying the gorgeous toy).
However, combine the above with Fortune's report of a forthcoming AT&T big price cut (bringing the price down to $199 for a 2 year contract) and I don't see how I can avoid becoming part of the iPhone nation. . .
The Air Car
Compressed Air Vehicles
New Gadget: iPod to iPod
Hey RIAA, suck on this one:
miShare is a sweet little gadget that facilitates song sharing via two iPods, no web connection required, no computer or cable is needed. With the gadget, you can share files, photos, videos and playlists between iPods. Just attach the source and target iPods and press miShare's button to start the transfer.