* You are viewing the archive for August, 2008

Photosynth Is Cool

In case you missed it, last week Microsoft released a cool freebie program called Photosynth. Basically, it takes a group of related photos you upload and makes a 3D environment out of them. My first tries at making a “synth” of downtown Seattle actually worked out pretty well. I’m sure there are plenty of practical applications for this, but for now, I’ll just say it was a fun way for me to waste time.

If you want more details, check out Mossberg’s review or various coverage from TechCrunch.

Canceling Credit Cards: Why Not Online?

I recently canceled a couple credit cards and has to go through a tedious phone process to do so. You know the drill. Call the main 800 number, fumble through a horrible phone system, and then find the cancel option as the last possible selection in the option tree. In both cases, this transferred me to someone asking if I was sure I wanted to cancel only to then transfer me to an “account specialist” who would help me further.

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No Worries, Netflix, You’re Doing Great

It seems that everyone and their dog is reporting on the shipping issues Netflix has been having for the past few days. So I figured I’d add my two cents: I don’t think it’s a big deal. Netflix, if you’re listening, don’t worry about crediting my account for the couple days I missed getting DVDs.

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Dash Express: When The Internet & GPS Are Combined

I’ve avoided the GPS scene and have relied instead on printing out maps from Google/Mapquest/Live maps. But having recently moved to a new city, I decided it was time to make the plunge. After some basic research and asking around, I went for the Dash Express. Here’s my first impression of the Dash Express and GPS in general:

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Amazon: Sales Tax Hasn’t Stopped Me Yet

One of the best things about shopping on Amazon (or most anywhere online) is that you don’t have to pay sales tax. Well, that recently changed for me. Since I now live in the state of Washington, I pay sales tax on any Amazon orders (because Amazon headquarters is here). The funny thing is, though, that I haven’t really given up on shopping via Amazon. Since being here, I’ve used Amazon to buy an Xbox 360 and a GPS device, plus some other odds and ends.

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Console Gaming: From the PC Gamer Perspective

About a month ago, I ordered an Xbox 360. My reasoning for not having one has revolved around the fact that I have plenty to keep me busy (in a good way) with PC games. But then came the announcement that pushed me to purchase: Netflix would soon be available via the Xbox 360. The irony here, though, is that I haven’t even experienced that combination (coming in the fall) but now wouldn’t give up my Xbox 360 even if the Netflix deal didn’t work out. Here’s why:

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T-Mobile vs. The iPhone or Hurry Up, T-Mobile!

I don’t have a “smart” phone and am in the market. So what logically comes to mind? The iPhone, of course. But I’m a T-Mobile customer and most my extended family are as well, which means we can all talk to our hearts’ content without worrying about minutes. Thus, it’s hard for me to give up the plan my wife and I are on: 1,000 shared minutes for only $50.

But our contract with T-Mobile recently expired, so I thought I’d use that as leverage to see what T-Mobile could offer me to, you know, “retain” me. At the same time, though, I don’t want to admit that I’m mostly happy with their service. What followed was an interesting conversation with a T-Mobile “retention representative” I was transferred to.

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Yahoo Shows How The Wall Street System Is Broken

Leaving aside whether or not the potential Microsoft takeover of Yahoo is a good idea (strategically), I’m surprised the whole idea hasn’t caused more analysis on how Wall Street works (or doesn’t). The fact is, Microsoft’s first offer back in January was a 62% premium on the market valuation of Yahoo. It only went up from there, but Yahoo never took the offer.

Juxtapose that fact with another fact that according to Wall Street / business schools / the financial system, corporations are expected to maximize shareholder value, and we have a problem with the current example. Even if Yahoo is able to create enough value at some point in the future to meet the value offered by Microsoft in January, it would not be enough. This is because of the “time value of money” concept that Wall Street loves. Without diving into detailed examples, let’s just say that one dollar today is worth more than one dollar at some point in the future.

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