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Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management. Photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and nature who is exploring the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found.
Author and Blogger. They are not the same thing. Sports occasionally spoken here, especially hockey. Veteran of Sun, Apple, Palm, HP and now Infoblox, plus some you've never heard of. They didn't kill me, they made me better.
Person with opinions, and not afraid to share them. Debate team in high school and college; bet that's a surprise.
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Monthly Archives: July 2012
That’s right. Hugo Award winning editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch and I are coming back to editing with a project called Fiction River.
Fiction River will be a bimonthly anthology series starting in April next year. Each anthology will be theme-focused and cross-genre containing all original fiction written by some of the top writers in fiction, including big names and names you might have never heard of.
Each anthology will be published in an electronic edition, a trade paper edition, and a very limited and numbered and signed hardback edition. (Signed by all authors and editors.) Readers will be able to buy each anthology individually or subscribe to the anthology series like a magazine.
Cool project. Supporting this one on Kickstarter is a no-brainer.
When asked directly about the possibility of offering same-day delivery, Szkutak hedged a bit, saying that “we’re always trying to get closer to customers… That’s not new, it’s been something we’ve been doing for years.” However, he then freely offered that “we don’t see a way to do same-day delivery on a broad scale economically.” That’s as close to a flat-out “no” on same-day delivery as we’ve ever seen from Amazon, so we’re not going to be holding our breath for that to change anytime soon
My reaction is different. I think there’s a lot of wiggle room in that statement. Define “broad scale”.
I agree with him, it’s probably not economic to do same-day delivery in, say, Billings Montana. What if Amazon decides to take, for instance, the top ten metro areas and build a service for them? That’s not “broad scale” in that geographically, it’s only covering a small percentage of the US — but it touches a non-trivial number of potential users. Could you build a service for, say, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta — pick some big, fairly dense populations and think it through.
Anyone who remembers Webvan here in the Bay Area knows it’s possible, if you don’t mess up your logistics chain as totally as Webvan did. Consider this….
There have been reports on and off for about a year about a huge distribution center being built in Patterson California for some mystery company. Everyone “knew” that company was amazon, but it’s only recently that’s been admitted formally. So Amazon is going to have one million square feet of automated warehouse coming to the greater Bay Area. it’s due to open soon after the sales tax change occurs; Amazon couldn’t put a business presence inside the state borders without triggering that. Now that they’ve agreed to do it anyway, they don’t have to stick their warehouse out in Nevada.
(interesting side question: is Amazon taking advantage of ‘losing’ the sales tax war by moving distribution to Patterson? Or did Amazon strategically give up that fight so they could start implementing a business model that takes advantage of big distribution centers within the state of California? interesting question…)
A quick look at driving times from Patterson: San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento are all almost exactly 90 minutes away. Fresno is two hours. So in theory, if you wanted to order something that lived in that warehouse, and you were willing to pay for expedited delivery, it wouldn’t be too hard for Amazon to promise same day delivery. Order by 10AM, on your porch by 6PM. What price? Good question. But where I doubt you’d pay $20 to get toothpaste delivered this evening, what about a flat screen TV?
Webvan did this a decade ago; Webvan died because they did it BADLY, not because it was a bad model. What Webvan needed was solid distribution and warehouse logistics. Guess what Amazon has?
So think about a service with significant limitations: I’d target the top 10 population markets in the country, say, and limit delivery to 90 minutes driving from the distribution center. you limit the items to a subset of inventory that is (a) in reasonably high demand, (b) in that warehouse, and [c] shippable without a lot of hassle. These same-day priority items get picked and shipped out from the main distribution center 3-4 times a day on big trucks to smaller redistribution centers. You could cover the majority of the Bay Area eligible for these deliveries with three: South San Francisco, Milpitas or Fremont, and near Sacramento (say, Elk Grove). Big trucks pile in, and incoming orders get pulled off and stuffed onto delivery vans that run out and do a round of deliveries, then circle back and grab the next load. These models are also proven, it’s a combination of what UPS does today with what Pizza Hut does. So none of this is inventing new models, it’s scale and execution.
Take it a step further: you now have buildings handling sub-regions where you are packing up for final delivery. What if you shifted some of your inventory here? What if you stocked your 5,000 most in demand (for same day) items in those regional hubs? Those hubs could take those items and have them on your porch in four hours. For the right price, of course. This is the Pizza Hut model, but for WIFI routers and hard drives instead of pepperoni.
So without a lot of innovation (instead, it’s all about capital, ability to scale and knowing how to execute logistics — all of which Amazon has), Amazon could put a key subset of product items four hours away from a lot of people, and a much larger inventory within same-say delivery capability.
they may only be able to offer it to 30% of the population (which I think excuses them from “broad scale”), but that’s still a lot of people, and a lot of revenue opportunity. And over time you expand to new metro areas and refine the model and the product mix.
Will they do this? I dunno. But it sure seems like the kind of thing Amazon CAN do, and that almost nobody but Amazon could do. And the business and logistics models it’s based on are all known and proven (including how NOT to do it like Webvan did it).
Could you build a price point that’d make this pay? I think so, but I haven’t done the math. But it seems to me there’d be enough demand that $20-25 for a small box delivery, $45 for a large box and a discount for 2nd-etc boxes in the same delivery could be made to work — and that enough people would go for it to pay for it.
And then, of course, I think to myself: what if one of the ways Amazon builds out this infrastructure is to buy UPS? If they did that, a big chunk of what they would need is already in place….
So when I hear Amazon saying “no, we don’t see why we’d do that”, I just think about how many times Steve Jobs said something like that. And with Amazon, like Apple, I always hear “… until we’re ready to.” at the end of those sentences…
Canon has (finally) announced the EOS M system, it’s first mirrorless style camera body. Canon rumors has a good overview of the announcement and the product stats (for geeky goodness, try DPreview.com).
I’ve been looking at the various sites and taking in the overall reaction, which is mostly positive, although there are the usual suspects in the usual blog comment areas with the usual babble, which all boils down to variations of “haven’t touched it, haven’t used it, just read the press release (maybe), and here’s why it sucks and won’t replace my brand new [name your favorite camera]“. All great reminders why I try not to read comment sections on most of the popular blogs.
One of the stronger negative responses to the new release is from Kirk tuck at Visual Science Lab. I take this one fairly seriously, because he’s been working a lot with other forms of this camera style and is a strong supporter of this emerging form factor, so his comments can’t be easily ignored.
It is a $799 camera that’s effectively a repackaged T4i. It has a new mount, but there’s an adapter that allows existing EF and EF-S lenses to work with the body, which caught my attention as a Canon user.
My interest in the product? Unclear. But I have been thinking through a personal project with some complexity to it, one that involves a lot of field time including video and time lapsing, and this has me, god help me, thinking about adding some gear to the kit, including audio capture and a body I can use for “B roll” style environmental and behind the scenes video. One option I’ve been considering is the GoPro, which would be about $300. Another has been a T4i, which is in the $850-1000 range depending on lens options.
So this body fits somewhat in the middle between the low end option that has some interesting possibilities but is video only, or going with another full-sized, consumer-oriented DLSR body that have good video/audio capabilities.
I’ve been thinking this through this evening, and I’m leaning towards Kirk Tuck’s negative view, however. One of the first thoughts I had was “street kit!” but I don’t think the new lens for this mount (18-55) is what I want; I’d want to use it with my 24-105, and honestly, with that lens, the size advantage of the smaller body is mostly lost. Unless the 18-55 is incredibly sharp, I don’t see this body as a street kit addition to my existing kid.
There is only about a $50 difference between this body and a brand new T4i. If I’m only adding a body, it’s hard to see how this body would work better for my needs than a T4i. Just from not having to learn more new control system quirks, going with a T4i to supplement the 7d and T3i minimizes my chances of brain cramping on an image at a key time. Especially for a first generation, I think I’d want a bigger price difference for me to bring it on. If I decide to go video only, the GoPro is enough cheaper to definitely be worth it. Heck, the GoPro is almost down to “impulse buy” levels.
For me, I don’t think this camera is a good fit at this time. None of the mirrorless are, unless I choose to build a street only kit around a mirrorless body, and if I did that, it’d cost me enough for the right lens that I’ll likely stick with the DLSR and 24-105 and use the iPhone when I want maximum portability. I just haven’t seen any of the new mirrorless camera systems to make me squirm and start counting nickels. Having said that, I think this new form factor is the evolutional future of interchangeable lens cameras, and over time, the mirrored units will fade to a specialty niche. But this will take some time, and I’m in no hurry to jump in front of this parade.
I think this camera is a good camera, but I think it’s going to be most interesting to people upgrading into the interchangeable lens world from pure point and shoots. For those people, this is a nice upgrade. As a supplement to an existing Canon DLSR kit, I’m not convinced. And is it as good as or better than competing models like the sony or the fuji? I have no clue — go ask Kirk.
So I think it’ll do well, and I’m going to be watching as they expand the lens options and they grow this unit into future generations. I must admit I’m a little disappointed that the mount form factor prevents a sensor bigger than APS size, but I’m not surprised. I’m of mixed feelings whether the industry should be pushing towards lower cost full frame sensors, or whether the future is improving APS sensors until even the 5D bigots agree they’re okay. I’m guessing that down the road the market differentiator between mirrorless and DLSR will likely be sensor size, and DLSR will shift more towards the full frame (more expensive) offerings. The mirrorless platform seems to slide in nicely as a replacement to the existing Rebel-class APS sensor DLSRs — eventually.
We’ll see. It’s something I’m watching, but until I get my hands on one and see how it operates, I’m just speculating. I do know if/when I move forward on my project, the EOS M won’t be the addition to the kit. Maybe next generation, but not now. And if someone asks me for a recommendation, at least for now, my answer’s going to be the T4i, not the EOS M. At some point, we’ll see if that changes.
Yes, the letter of doom has appeared. Okay, not really. Unlike some, I understand jury duty as part of my responsibility as a citizen. I don’t exactly jump for joy when they call, but I don’t play the entitled spoiled brat game of complaining that jury duty is for all of those other people who’s time isn’t worth as much as mine. I go in when asked, I sit and answer questions when they want me to, and then I get thrown off by one lawyer or the other and I get to go home.
See, the last seven times I’ve been called in over the last 20ish years, I’ve been a preemptory dismissal by one of the lawyers. Why?
I guess I could say “ask them”, but that’d be a boring blog post. Some juries I’ve been ask to sit for I honestly haven’t wanted to be on, mostly because I (in one case, for instance) didn’t want to sit on a six week jury. But in one case, it was expected to be a three day trial, and it was for solicitation at a massage parlor. How could I NOT do my civic duty? (she claimed entrapment, by the way…)
The problem is, lawyers don’t want people who think things through too thoroughly. Simply being a geek and a software architect seems to be enough for some. And a funny thing has happened along the way. I seem to have hit a point in the system where I get bounced by a lawyer for the simple reason that I’ve been bounced by all those lawyers in my past. One question asked at all jury selections is previous jury duty action. I dutifully answer how many times I’ve been called, and how often I’ve been dumped at the preemptory stage. And I’ve actually watched two lawyers now tick my name off on their lists as soon as I say it and dump me at the first opportunity. After about four in a row, it seems to have become a self-replicating decision.
Of course, if you don’t want to be on a jury, there are ways you can answer that are completely truthful but still put the germ of an idea in a lawyer’s head to go with the housewife instead of you. One jury, for instance, I noted my professions as both computer professional and fiction writer (true, I’m published), writing both science fiction and police procedurals. Which was technically true, because I’d started one because being called for jury duty gave me an idea, and I was hoping to use the jury time as research into the story. But evidently, lawyers don’t like amateur detectives on their juries.
I used to have a hardcover first edition of Joseph Waumbaugh’s The Onion Fields that I carried to jury duty and read during breaks. On two occasions, I swear I saw lawyers do spit-takes when they checked my stuff out. Which they will quietly do, as they try to figure out how to build a jury that’ll work for their case.
My most recent jury duty? In 2008, a case about [redacted] where the accused pulled out a [redacted] and [redacted] two people. he was a member of the Nortenos, a fact he displayed most prominently on his neck with one of his many tattoos. He was, however, going to be sitting in on the trial in a turtleneck for some reason. I thought about it, decided this was not the jury I particularly cared about being on, mostly because it was going to be a 3-4 week jury. So when asked if there were things material to the case the court should know, I disclosed that I’d been a financial contributor to the California Three Strikes initiative campaign.
Best $50 I ever spent. The defense lawyer almost wet himself. We had a nice discussion about what that meant and if I understood the details of the initiative, and I was asked a couple of ways whether that would impact how I judged this trial, which I said it wouldn’t (and it wouldn’t). But as the defense lawyer assumed, someone who was behind that initiative would have specific opinions about whoever did the crime this trial was about. And he was right. And that was the idea. And I got to go home shortly thereafter.
Unfair? It was the truth. Would it have been more fair to not say anything, when I was clearly not the type of person the defense lawyer wanted on the jury? (then again, I was clearly the type of person the prosecution DID want, but the joy of jury selection is neither gets exactly what they want, and then they have to make the mix work. In many ways, I find the politics of jury selection fascinating, which if I admitted to in court, would probably get me kicked off by both lawyers in unison).
I’ve seen the men and women who play the angry bastard game and I don’t blame the lawyers a bit for getting those little balls of hostility out of their court, but man, I hate seeing them get away with playing that “how dare you interrupt my life you bastard” game and get away with it.
Whatever you do, you don’t lie. Lying is called perjury, and that’s potentially really, really bad. But that doesn’t mean you can’t promote the reality that helps the lawyer make the right decision for all involved. After all, isn’t that what both lawyers are doing in the case, too? So I feel no guilt planting little seeds in the brains of the lawyers at times to encourage them that I’m not the person they want judging their case.
If I end up on a jury? I do. It’s part of being a citizen, of paying back to this country that’s given me what I have. But if I get called in and sent home, that’s also part of doing your duty. No waumbaugh this trip, I think that joke’s a bit dated. no, a lot dated.
But just once, I’d love to have the guts to sit up in the jury box and look at the judge and see if I could say “but they wouldn’t have arrested him if he wasn’t guilty, right?” with a straight face, just to see what they and the lawyers would do. Of course, there’s some chance what they’d do is a contempt charge, but heck, there are times when I’m really, really tempted…
Here’s to jury duty. It takes a little time out of your life. That’s a small price to pay for what we have, and what so many take for granted.