Business


I have this song from the Counting Crows band in my head. Here are the lyrics:

A long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember the last thing that you said as you were leaving
Now the days go by so fast
And its one more day up in the canyons
And its one more night in Hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven…I wish you would
The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that its all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl
And its one more day up in the canyons
And its one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California…I think you should
Drove up to hillside manor sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
And its been a long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
And its one more day up in the canyon
And its one more night in Hollywood
Its been so long since I’ve seen the ocean…I guess I should.

A lot has happened recently and I haven’t posted much, been trying to learn to play the guitar which has taken up a lot of my free time. With the election over, and a new administration taking over in January, “there’s reason to believe this year will be better than the last.”

PC Magazine will stop printing soon and will be available online only. I hate to see this as I learned much about computing from their magazine. I fondly recall learning about expanded memory, extended memory, micro channel architecture, and so on and so on. In truth, since the dot com bust, the magazine went from a multi pound thick info packed warehouse of knowledge to a thinly disguised advertisement and buying guide for their advertisers.

Part of this is due to Intel copyrighting the Pentium name and keeping more of the lid on the inner workings of these chips, or perhaps people just are not as geekily interested in how these chips work like some of us before were. The information is available sooner online anyway. My Kim Kommando newsletter I receive from her is timely and informative about technology and tech issues. People like Jim Seymour, who died prematurely a few years ago, aren’t around to enliven the mysteries of computing either. He was great to read in PC Magazine. I like John Dvorak’s writing but the magazine has definitely moved from being an information tool to being a sales tool. John is not afraid to challenge the makers of software and hardware products. Still, I hate to see it go. It was a good run.

When you’re Democrat or Republican, isn’t it refreshing to be treated by the new hires as adults, rather than some ignorant people who don’t deserve any information at all?

Enough said. December has only just begun, but it will soon be over.

Happy holidays!

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This year is the 40th anniversary of Intel’s birth. Does anyone remember their very first chip? Below is a recap, based on information in a PC Magazine article.

YEAR

MODEL

NOTABLE

NOTABLE

1971 4004 400 khz 1st microprocessor
1974 8080 traffic light controllers Altair computer
1979 8088 5 mhz; 8 mhz IBM PC & clones
1982 80286 compatible with 8088 new processor family
1985 386 DX first 32 bit processor 275,000 transistors
1989 486 DX math co-processor
1994 Pentium up to 100 mhz
1995 Pentium Pro 2nd cache memory chip 5.5 million transistors
1996 Pentium II MMX technology 7.5 millions transistors
1998 Pentium II Xeon scale 4 to 8 processors workstations & servers
1999 Pentium III 500 mhz 9.5 million transistors
2000 Celeron portable PC’s performance + price
2000 Pentium 4 1.5 ghz 42 million transistors
2002 Pentium 4 3.06 ghz hyper-threading
2004 Pentium M Centrino technology low voltage technology
2005 Pentium 4 Extreme 3.8 ghz for gamers
2005 Pentium D 800 dual-core technology
2006 Core Duo speed efficient design
2007 Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4 ghz leading edge high-end gaming
2008 Atom Z540 ultra-mobile pc’s smallest chip

What’s really amazing, looking at the table, is the number of transistors that can now be placed on a chip, 42 million versus 275,000 only twenty years ago.

Intel was founded on July 18th, 1968 by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. It’s name is an acronym for Integrated Electronics. Gordon Moore is also well know for Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors that can be inexpensively place on an integrated circuit increases exponentially, doubling every two years.

Intel has 100,000 employees and is in the Top 50 on the Fortune 500 list.

It’s always somewhat awkward leaving a job, whether on good terms and wondering whether you’re making a mistake or on bad terms, wondering how in the world you ended up at that stupid gig anyway. Jared Sandberg had a very interesting column in today’s Wall Street Journal Online edition. The article was titled, “Goodbye, Colleague, Thanks for Leaving Me to Do All Your Work.” He gives examples of employee departures and how the departure was accepted or celebrated or ignored by the company and the remaining employees.

The link to the article is here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120759372969495473.html?mod=todays_us_marketplace. I’m not sure if a subscription is required for this article. I have one but I know some articles are free without a subscription.

Mr. Sandberg hit on several truths, one a truly major one: “You learn the upside-down economics of the workplace: that companies are willing to pay more to acquire talent than to keep it or, looking at it another way, that your own company pays and promotes you less than its rival would. And you learn to ask yourself, “What am I still doing here?”

The WSJ online forum was open for this article, the link is: http://forums.wsj.com/. I believe all their forums are free to the public without a subscription. The forum posts to this article are very interesting. I made a post that I am reprinting below, under name WSJ id- CPA41. Yes, I am a CPA.  

Jared Sandberg: So what are the best ways to say goodbye to employees leaving for other opportunities? And what are the worst ways to conduct farewells?

My post:

CPA41
Joined: 15 Sep 2006
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Employee Departures


Employees desire more money, longer vacations, etc. but what they really want is respect. I left a prior job and my supervisor’s boss whom I once reported to, told me he heard I was leaving. This was in the restroom while washing our hands in the second week of a two week notice. I was upset that he had ignored me to that point. On my last day, the President came by and said how he enjoyed having me, wished me luck and offered to keep sending me the employee newsletter. He wanted to know if I had any suggestions for them and if I was happy. This restored my good feeling about the company and made me proud once again to have worked for them. What more could a departing employee ask for?

I feel strongly about my post above and if anyone has any comments or experiences of leaving jobs I would be glad to hear them. Many companies are attempting to deal with turnover and to a large extent are clueless about why it occurs. I believe the way you treat departing employees signals to your current employees how you feel about them. Plus, it’s a small world. You may have to do business with the departing employee at some point.

And so this isn’t a totally boring post, here are the lyrics to Jambalaya, written by Hank Williams, Jr., and performed by John Fogerty in 1974 with his short-lived group, The Blue Ridge Rangers (which consisted entirely of Fogerty, he played every instrument).

 

Goodbye, joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh.
Me gotta go, pole the pirogue down the bayou.
My yvonne, sweetest one, me oh my oh.
Son of a gun, gonna have big fun on the bayou.
Chorus:
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and fillet gumbo
’cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio.
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gayo,
Son of a gun, gonna have big fun on the bayou.
Thibodeaux, fontaineaux, the place is buzzin’,
Kinfolk come to see yvonne by the dozen.
Dress in style, go hog wild, and be gayo.
Son of a gun, gonna have big fun on the bayou.

Ahead of a highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO), Facebook is finalizing a settlement with the founders of ConnectU; Tyler Winklevoss, partner Divya Narendra and Cameron Winklevoss of ConnectU are pictured below.

Mark Zuckerberg was accused by the founders of ConnectU of stealing their idea in 2003, when all attended Harvard together. Facebook countersued for unfair business practices.Tyler-Divya-Cameron

The idea, of which Facebook is a direct descendent, turned out to be immensely profitable. ConnectU claims that Mark Zuckerberg was hired while a Harvard sophomore in 2003 to assist in creating a campus-wide dating site, Harvard Connection. Mr. Zuckerberg is claimed to have stalled on the project while secretly developing the idea for his own use. The result became Facebook.com.

Pre-trial discovery turned up embarrassing material, for instance, Mr. Zuckerberg’s online diary. The Facebook.com IPO would have had to be delayed until the suit was resolved. The entire affair casts a pall over the aura surrounding Mr. Zuckerberg as an entrepreneurial genius.

Motions to dismiss the cases are expected to be filed within the next several weeks.

This link leads to a site that contains many documents relating to the trial and they are all an interesting read: http://www.02138mag.com/magazine/article/1764.html. Some links contained at this site are: Poking Facebook – three page article about Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook; Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard Application in a pdf file; Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony #1 & #2 in pdf files; and others including Mark Zuckerberg’s online diary, also in a pdf file.

Also see the Facebook article in the New York Times.

Photo: Charles Krupa, Associated Press

President Bush is saying that the administration is showing “the country and the world that the United States is on top of the situation.” The word frown, which rhymes with the name of the man in charge of the Katrina disaster, which President Bush said was “doing a heckuva job,” is the appropriate gesture for me as I read about the Bear Stearns bailout.Bush

President Bush is being accused of violating his principle of opposition to government intervention (remember the administration is a big fan of “letting the market work its magic”) and is being accused of not doing enough to correct the market disarray rampaging through Wall Street. They’re getting it from both sides. Nobody is happy here.

This has given ammunition to the Democrats, where Senate majority leader Harry Reid said, “Now that the president has shown his willingness to bail out Wall Street at taxpayer expense, I hope he will drop his opposition to proposals designed to help ordinary homeowners.” And Senator Barrack Obama said the economy is “in shambles.”

I have a bad feeling about this as I’m sure a lot of people do. The headquarters building of Bear Stearns is reportedly worth close to $1 billion and they did not come close to that in the purchase price of $236 million that JP Morgan is paying to acquire the firm. That says something, I’m not sure what, but it can’t be good. A building worth $1 billion and Bear Stearns is in such bad shape they have a negative effect on their own hard assets. Someone knows that its worse than it looks otherwise JP should be willing to pay the $1 billion just for the building.

Bear Stearns employees hold 30% of the company stock and are threatening to vote against the deal. It would seem to me that they would come out better in a bankruptcy liquidation. I keep thinking of the value of that stupid building! However, everyone is scared to death of what a major financial bankruptcy such as Bear Stearns would do to others firms and to the market. We may be way past that now.

How low can you go? The Dow Jones Industrials’ twelve-month peak was on October 11, 2007 closing at just over 14,015. Today, January 17, 2008 it closed at just past 12,159 down more than 1,856 points or 13.2%. Over 2.2% of that decline occurred today. It’s probably not yet at bottom as more banks, mortgage companies and other lenders fess up about the bad loans in their portfolios. What’s worse is that everybody is nervous. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, “We don’t know, what we don’t know.” Write-off’s are occurring fast and furious, and now calls are being made for relief to jump start the economy.

Stimulus packages of $50 – $150 billion were bandied about today. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke opined these amounts seemed “reasonable… from a macroeconomic point of view.” Congress, with both parties and the President, are seemingly united on this subject and want to pass a stimulus plan asap.

I hope that more thought goes into these stimulus proposals. Perhaps those facing foreclosure should be given extra time, even up to six months to pay their delinquencies, or if unemployed, money is used to provide quick assistance for them to find a new job. A rebate check of $1,000 would sure help, but if they are out of work or three months behind on their mortgage, money of that amount doesn’t seem to me to be the end all answer. If I get the rebate, I’m not going to go out and spend it for goods and services. I’m going to pay off the goods and services liabilities I incurred over Christmas. My rebate likely won’t help jump start the economy in the short run and it’s my belief that a lot of people are thinking the same way I am.

My suggestion is to look at a combination of solutions to incorporate into the stimulus package. Throwing money around and then claiming your concern led you to action that is sure to work, doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in me. Tax cuts may provide long term relief but an interest rate cut will be more effective in the short run. If the Fed cuts rates by half a percentage point, the market will go down again. They’ll have to go 3/4 of a percent or even a full percentage point to get people excited. We’ll have to wait until the end of the month when they meet. In the meantime, everyone’s nerves will be on edge which doesn’t bode well for the market in the interim.

McDonalds plans to add baristas and espresso machines at all their locations to compete with Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, et al. Oh the smell of freshly ground Arabica coffee beans and hot vegetable oil. Mmmm. Well, I do enjoy the former, but not the latter and definitely not as a mixture of scents.

McDonalds has automated the filling of sodas and plans to do the same with its espresso drinks. It will only offer three different flavorings. I have went through Starbucks drive thru and it takes a few minutes to make your espresso drink order. It’s not as quick as microwaving a precooked hamburger and throwing it in a sack. The people behind me in line will be upset that they have to wait on my mocha before they can get their Big Mac.

Of the people going to Starbucks, probably 95% are there for an espresso drink. This means the drinks are made and delivered assembly line fashion and since the drink making is constant, the milk is always frothy and hot. This will not be the case with McDonalds. If their drinks taste anything like the cappuccinos you get at a gas station ‘espresso’ dispenser, they will not be successful.

Quality takes time and it takes trained personnel. McDonalds is in the commodity business where high staff turnover is prevalent. Starbucks can be a bit like Cheers, where everybody knows your name, or least your drink preference.

McDonalds will offer bottled drinks as well and this is an offering that though they are late to the party with, will be successful for them. Most everyone except kids are getting tired of the same old soda, which in part accounts for the success of Starbucks. McDonalds long ago decided to cater to children and force their parents in to their stores through the voting of their children. Starbucks and Barnes & Noble cafes have ambiance, something it will take a while for McDonalds to understand.

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