Monday, August 27, 2007

Link Between Housing and Immigration?

A quick thought:

If the U.S. cracks down on immigrants entering the country, which has been a goal of late, won't that negatively affect the housing market?

Simple economics suggest that immigrants make up a sizable chunk of the nation's population growth and all of those people need houses (even if they rent, they still need some sort of shelter). Therefore, if there are less people moving to and subsequently living in America, fewer houses are needed and the demand and prices for houses should level off.

Or perhaps it has already?

And if this does happen, is this good or bad?

Just something to think about...

Friday, August 24, 2007

View from a Marketer: Bravo Apple!

So you've probably heard about some of the massive iPhone bills received by AT&T customers. To summarize, some iPhone users recieved detailed logs of every bit of phone usage in their first bills, delivered this week. Every phone call, every web download, every, well I don't even know because I don't own one, but every little itty bitty thing got recorded and sent to customers... some bills even sent in boxes. Quite an embarrassment, eh?

Well, let's think "different" here. This happens to be, in my mind, a smart, well-calculated move by AT&T and Apple... assuming it was even planned in the first place. Think about it. Apple and AT&T just got invaluable free publicity about the incredible usage of the popular phone on the only service that it can operate on. Now, if AT&T can fix the billing "glitch" for the next round of bills, all of the "problems" will be forgotten, but the publicity will hang around for some time.

Now if only I could have that marketing conundrum of how to deal with people using my services too much...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not Exactly Bad Newz, But Not Exactly Good Newz Either

What with dog kennels being in the news (or perhaps it should be "newz") a lot lately, I thought I'd throw down this post about a small dog kennel that I can see from across where I work.

I work in a rural area and across the street from our office is a farm that owns hundreds of acres of land, including acres and acres of grapes for winemaking, and a field that used to be home to a mule. On the corner of this field is a row of about four or five kennel cages, each with a dog that's kept inside. Now, to my knowledge, this field is not used for anything in particular, as there are no rows of plants and there is never any activity on it. So my silly question for the day is, why not let the dogs out on this field? At the very least, put them on a leash and attach it to a line so they can at least run around for a spell of time.

I realize that dogs feel at home in a kennel, but it definitely bugs me to see the dogs cooped up in there for long periods of time, just idly barking and jumping around. If you've got the space, let 'em roam!

Ok, that's my rant for the day. I know it won't do much of anything, and I realize it's not exactly "bad newz", but hey it's my blog and I can bark up whatever tree I want to. Thank you.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Pre-Aruba Observation

When I mentioned to my boss's wife that I would be going to Aruba on my honeymoon, she immediately was taken aback.

"Well be careful! We only go to Florida because it's safer there..."

She was apparently referring to how dangerous it was in Aruba because of the infamous and unfortunate Natlie Halloway incident.

Meanwhile, Aruba was probably one of the safest places we've ever been. While there, I observed no evidence of crime, nor did we ever feel threatened. People there seemed very reserved and quietly friendly. Police ("polis") were quite prevalent and the atmosphere in general was quite easy-going and comfortable, even in the "off-the-beaten-track" areas.

So it's a shame that one tragic disaster has damaged the reputation of an otherwise beautiful country. It reminds me of the time I went to my buddy's wedding in Texas-- Waco, Texas. Anybody I told about this trip gave me strange stares and concerned comments. And that was 10 years after that Koresh goon made the news for, well, you know the story. Turned out that the actual disaster happened 45 minutes outside of Waco, and Waco was a humble, normal town by all accounts.

So the next time you judge an entire community, town, or country by one unfortunate occurence, think twice and consider that the media tends to enlarge the tragedy. Do your research and don't believe the hype!

And of course, enjoy your trip!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Poor Customer Service at Wi-Fi Aruba

After a week being away from the warm glow of the Internet (the horror!), my better half and I were in the Aruba Airport, 2 hours before our takeoff, and ready to fire up our laptop. To log onto the Wi-Fi Internet at the airport, we had to purchase Wi-Fi time from Wi-Fi Aruba, the local internet provider. Seeing as how we had a few hours to catch up on e-mail, news, and other connected activities, we went ahead and bought a $10 pass for 24 hours of use, else we would have paid $5/hr.

The internet connection worked beautifully for the first hour we used it in one spot in the airport. We then shut down and relocated to the gate. We opened up the laptop again, and... Wi-Fi Aruba wanted our password to log on. What password you ask? The one that was e-mailed to us. Well, here's a dumb question... how were we supposed to access the password if we couldn't get onto the Internet? I suppose the assumption is that one would sign up for the service, immediately check for an e-mail message from Wi-Fi Aruba, write it down, and then have it handy to access at any time. That's quite ridiculous.

I went on Wi-Fi Aruba's site, the only one accessible from the airport without being signed-in to their service, and tried to call the company's support phone number posted, but my cell phone would not allow the call to go through, nor would my wife's. I sent an e-mail to the company to request them to refund our money because we didn't get what we paid for... 24 hours of internet service. We never heard back from them.

So you're probably asking yourself-- is $10 really worth all this aggravation? Just let it go, right? Well, it'd be nice to get a refund or even an apology from the poorly managed Wi-Fi Aruba, but it's really more of a warning to all of my loyal reader(s) out there... buyer beware! And to share a lesson--good customer service still goes a long way.

Awakening from an Aruban Adventure

During a week-long honeymoon in Aruba, my new wife and I took a "Jeep Adventure" starting in the busy town of Oranjestad and wrapping around the rural, dirt-trailed back country. The natural beauty of the island is beautiful and memorable. From the ocean views to the desert wildlife, going off road was a tremendous experience. But I wouldn't do it again!

The trip started by meeting at the company's headquarters and dividing the group of about 30 people into 5 cars. A guide drove the lead car and had a radio to the following cars, which were driven by us unassuming tourists.

The tour started on main roads, and wound around to dirt roads, and eventually steep, bouldered paths. The part of the tour I drove on was the steep, bouldered path section. Wowsers.

So here I am commandeering a LandRover I've never driven before, on paths in the middle of nowhere, going over massive chunks of rocks, all while 5 other people are at my mercy. Plus, it was dusty and hot and 4 hours removed from breakfast. Four and 1/2 hours after starting, I was positively exhausted, mentally and physically by the time we finished. It sure was an adventure, but not exactly what I had in mind.

But I did learn two lessons from this trip:

1. I gained a tremendous amount of respect for the brave and rugged soldiers fighting in Iraq. Not that I didn't have respect for them before, but bearing that brutal desert heat and unfriendly terrain, and mixing in an incredibly dangerous atmosphere must be an unbelievably challenging job.

2. After driving through that brutal desert heat and unfriendly terrain, I lost a tremendous amount of respect for our leaders to think that we could waltz into that country, take over, and not really have any plan for succeeding. It's scary to think that our troops will have to struggle in that environment for an indefinite amount of time. This is no "adventure," this is plain scary, and hopefully, once we wrap up there... never again.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Are YOU Clicking Every Day?

It doesn't get much easier than this when it comes to helping the Earth and some fellow human beings...

Simply make some clicks at:

The Hunger Site

and you can also click for donations and get free e-mail accounts at:

Thank you in advance for doing this painless act every day!

(Note to friends and readers: I've been away for the past week and will return soon with more blog posts, mostly about my trip. Stay tuned!)