Category: Biz

Right now it costs 5,000 miles to upgrade to first class on one leg of a domestic US Airways flight. Beginning in October, that price will jump to 15,000 miles.

US Airways Mileage Changes

Effective October 3, 2007, all one-way upgrades within the contiguous U.S. / Canada / Alaska will require 15,000 miles. All one-way upgrades between the contiguous U.S. / Canada / Alaska and the Caribbean area / Central America / Mexico or Hawaii will require 17,500 miles. All qualifying one-way upgrades between the contiguous U.S. / Canada / Caribbean area / Central America / Hawaii / Alaska / or Mexico and Europe will require 30,000 miles.

Looks like I have yet another reason to stop being a loyal US Airways customer.

How important is your web presence? Is your company’s business model based solely on the web? Are you an equipment manufacturer touting high reliability?

If the reliability of your web presence is even slightly important, you might not want to gamble your entire web presence on one colocation center. Hundreds of big name companies have been down throughout the day thanks to a power outage at a high end data center that couldn’t handle the power requirements of its customer base.

Its amazing how much faith companies will put in to colocation centers, with very little auditing. The fact of the matter is, most colocation centers cannot handle a prolonged power outage, due to the cooling requirements. The data center in question in one of the highest end in the country, yet it couldn’t handle a simple power outage.

Its amazing to think that large e-commerce companies would be dependent on one data center, with no process for site failover. Its simple inexcusable that a company like Sun Microsystems, would be dependent on one datacenter. Why the hell doesn’t Sun run their own datacenter(s)?

Is your company’s web presence dependent on the availability of one data center? Most companies don’t have a plan b. If they do, it hasn’t been dusted off in a few years. At the very least, an e-commerce company, and any fortune-1000, should be able to failover to a backup site in 1 hour. Anything more than an hour, is grounds for the CIO’s dismissal.

There is simply no excuse.

By now, most people have heard about the CEO of Whole Foods posting messages to Yahoo finance boards, disparaging the competition, and singing the praises of his company.

Valleywag has an interesting follow up on this story, profiling a botched Whole Food’s dotcom attempt in the late 90’s.

Whole Foods is run more like a hippie commune than a business — which seems to work well for the grocery business. For Mackey’s dotcom, however, free love and blurred lines of responsibility added up to a toxic workplace.

I’m the type of person the music industry loves. I buy at least thirty new CD’s a year. I attend at least 10 concerts per year as well. So why am I, along with millions of other music consumers, completely fed up with the music industry?

Lets do a quick review of current state of the industry. CD sales are way down. The music industry is trying to kill Internet radio. The industry has sued over 18,000 customers for downloading.

So last week, I wanted to get tickets to see a concert at the electric factory in Philadelphia. Pete Yorn was playing on Saturday. At $20 a ticket, it seemed like a steal.

Ticketmaster Charges

What the hell are these charges? What convenience am I paying for? The convenience of being screwed by a ticket monopoly in the comfort of my own home? I have to pay $12.40 in convenience fees for $40 worth of tickets? To add insult to injury, there is a $4.85 processing fee. Who the hell did the calculus on the $4.85? It certainly is not the cost of my transaction, its simply another way for Ticketmaster to screw consumers.

So I take one in the backside from Ticketmaster to attend the concert, and this week I get an e-mail from favorite band, Wilco. Now in the past, Wilco has been fairly critical of the music industry establishment. You will often see Jeff Tweedy, the lead singer/guitarist, talking about copyright issues with Larry Lessig, etc in various events. So Wilco has a new CD coming out, and I can preorder it directly from their store, which is run by an outfit called Musictoday.

The music industry has moved towards the bundling concept. Since people feel they are getting screwed with $20 CD’s, the popular trend is to include a t-shirt and price it at $30. Wilco has the CD alone for $18 or the CD+shirt combo at $30. I picked the combo because Wilco always has great high quality shirts. I try to buy from the artist directly when I can, to give them the largest cut of my purchase.

The checkout process moves along, and then the shipping screen comes up.

Wilco Preorder Shipping

The whole point of a preorder is to get the item when its released. The standard shipping rate is an obscene $8.30. I know bulk shipping, an outfit like Musictoday is probably paying $1 – $2 to ship a cd/shirt combo via ground. So I can pay a ripoff shipping fee and receive my CD two weeks after it was released. Thanks Wilco!

The Wilco preorder store has an option for release date shipping. At a cost of $14.35, I can receive my pre-ordered CD on the day of its release! What a novel concept! So if I just decided to buy the CD, it would cost me over $30 to receive it on the release date.

Is it hard to see why the music industry is dying, when any transaction involving the music industry leads to the customer being ripped off?

Pricing is only one aspect of the problems facing the music industry. The last emerging new major genre of music, Grunge, took place 20 years ago. There has never been a time in the musical history of the United States where 20 years went by without a significant new genre of music.

Viacom is suing Youtube for one billion. While the damages sought are certainly inflated, the principle behind the suit is solid.

I think Youtube is a great site, but I never understood how such a blatant disregard for copyright could be tolerated by an operation that uses a centralized website for distribution.

Centralized P2P file sharing networks were pretty much dismantled a few years ago, so its hard to imagine how Youtube was tolerated, while actually storing the content on their servers.

Its funny, I get quite a few non-techie friends and family who joke about how the Youtube guys are now nearly billionaires, and why didn’t I think of that?

Putting user uploaded video on a website is a pretty straightforward idea. Its not rocket science, but nobody tried it on a large scale pre-Youtube because of copyright and adult content concerns. This lawsuit is validation of those potential copyright concerns.

I have to hand it to the Youtube founders. They were able to make a killing off an idea that is completely unoriginal, propelled by complete disregard for IP law. Its probably the most lucrative sale of an unoriginal web business since was sold by Mark Cuban.

Second Hype

Second Life has to be most hyped online game in history. I’ve read all types of drooling stories saying that Second Life is going to revolutionize online gaming, etc, etc. Its a cute idea, but Second Life is certainly not original, it just seems like an extension of the Sims Online concept. EA came out of with an online version of the Sims nearly 5 years ago, and it was a flop. Millions of people tried the Sim’s online, and subsequently dropped it.

second life

The problem with nearly all these online environment games is they are way too time consuming. Most people don’t have enough free time to excel in Second Life. What happens? People try it out, drop it, and the people with way too much free time do well.

One of my favorite blogs, Valleywag, confirms one of my long held suspicions. The usage figures for Second Life are deceiving.

Now that Linden is publishing actual user numbers, we can see that the Residents figure, as expected, is a big overcount over actual people (about 50% inflation, in fact, accounting for over a million ersatz users). Second Life doesn’t have two million users. They have had two million users over the life of the service, and they’ve lost most of them. Of those users, the majority — something like 5 out of 6 — bailed in the first month.