A surprise to my younger self. I'd never have guessed I'd be so saddened by the death of an aging TV huckster. But a couple months ago I caught an episode of the Discovery Channel's 'Pitchmen' show - simply because it followed our household favorite, MythBusters. Since my measure of television 'reality' portrayals of entrepreneurship had been set by the execrable, mean-spirited Donald Trump offerings, my expectations were pretty low. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find Billy Mays and his co-star/partner Anthony 'Sully' Sullivan obviously respecting and honoring the would-be inventors and entrepreneurs who came their way, even when their proposals didn't come close to matching their criteria. I never became a regular viewer, but I did take in several more Pitchmen shows thereafter. For clarity about their needs, criteria and process, direct and honest feedback to proposers, and real respect for the entrepreneur, the venture capital world could do far worse than emulate Billy and Sully. I'll miss ya.
Sony brand down. Jeff "Buzzmachine" Jarvis has long talked about harnessing the creativity of customers and fans to help design ads and marketing campaigns. But what happens when they turn on you? Something like this:
Ouch, that's gonna leave a mark! (Hat tip to Cobb.)
Those backhaul blues. Four years ago, I was writing up observations from another camping vacation, regarding the spread of 802.11 'WiFi' to the RVing market and those who serve it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that trend has pretty much reached completion, with now only the lowest tier or most distant destination campgrounds not having WiFi on offer, usually free. What's gotten worse in the last year, and rapidly so, is the actual usefulness of these systems. Most offer decent throughput only during very late or early hours, or sometimes in the mid-afternoon when most campers are out on excursions. It's the old backhaul provisioning problem, come back to bite campground proprietors who didn't know they were in the ISP business. It bears a lot of resemblance to the trend I saw overtake network planning at CompuServe and other old online services back in the mid-90s. Not only are many if not most RVers showing up with laptops - even the retiree crowd has it figured out - but expectations of continuous bandwidth and duty cycle have once again shifted with the explosion of YouTube and other online video sources as a means of news gathering and entertainment. A campground that's provisioned with a single T-1, or a business DSL or cable modem, is finding its router and resources overwhelmed.
(I also note that many RVing WiFi users haven't thought things through. At a large campground in Salt Lake City, I fired up my laptop and was soon able to see the shared, toplevel directories of an even dozen users who probably didn't realize they were bridged to every other user on the WLAN. No I didn't peek, I'm not that kind of guy, but it's close to an attractive nuisance for wannabe crackers.)