Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, May 25, 2021

I guess talking about an electronic talking urinal cake makes you slip some unfortunate phraseology into your anecdotes:

Christopher Mistron, the traffic safety educator for Nassau County, said that the reaction from friends and around the county has been mixed, but that the way he figures it, anything that gets people talking about the dangers of drunken driving is a good thing. “Trust me, someone comes back from the men’s room after seeing one of these things,” he said, “and says to his friends at the bar, ‘You’ll never believe what I saw in there.’”

Um… Wow. I have to say, if one of my buddies ever uttered those words upon his return from a bar bathroom, I’d practically pay him to not deliver his punchline; the possibilities lean toward the disgusting. In general, stories involving public restrooms tend to have diminishing returns…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/25/2006 11:46pm
Category: New Yorkin', Society, Tech
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a dash for the desktop
Today’s pact between Google and Dell to produce computers that will ship pre-loaded with Google’s search browser toolbar is seen mostly as a tactical victory for Google in search space: It counters Microsoft’s plans to have MSN Search as the default in the upcoming Internet Explorer 7.

But I think it lays significant groundwork for Google. Horning in on the PC desktop fulfills what I speculated was the longer-term intent behind the rollout of the Google Pack suite of Web software:

Google Pack looks less like a Windows helper and more like a start-you-up OS software suite. Suddenly, the rumors of a Google-produced bare-bones PC (since discredited) don’t sound so far-fetched. I can see Pack being a trial balloon. If it develops a large user base among Windows and Mac users, trackable by user updates, that would be enough to convince Google to go ahead and release its own PC hardware. The boxes would come running nothing but a Linux OS, and a direct Internet connection to Google Pack for making the thing actually useful.

Of course, Dell’s not about to ditch Windows for Linux. But the wheels are now greased for more pre-loaded Google-provided apps to show up on Dell machines, and the Pack programs can be positioned as highly-promotable value-added doodads. Google won’t produce the hardware, but it would “own” it in the same sense that Microsoft now does with Windows.

In particular, the Mozilla Firefox browser could get a huge user-base boost from being a continued part of the Pack package. And, as I’ve argued, existing as a pre-installed option on consumer purchases would be the only way Firefox could ever hope to seriously challenge IE’s dominance (and even that might not do it, given IE’s embedded position in the Windows OS).

This is shaping up to be the start of a computer interface experience that’s distinctly Google-branded (rather than only incidentally through minor inroads like Toolbar and Desktop Search). The battle for the desktop has begun.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/25/2006 11:22pm
Category: Business, Internet, Tech
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Hey college grads: Expect to make slave wages in your first job out of school. That’s not news, I know.

Just make sure they’re not too slavish, because the salary you settle for in that first stint could set a trend for you, career-wise:

These data confirm that people essentially cannot close the wage gap by working their way up the company hierarchy. While they may work their way up, the people who started above them do, too. They don’t catch up. The recession graduates who actually do catch up tend to be the ones who forget about rising up the ladder and, instead, jump ship to other employers.

Your pay range is established early, and becomes part of your permanent record, so to speak. I can attest to that: I think I swapped monetary compensation for security too often in the past, and consequently, found it hard to credibly demand more money in subsequent jobs. And naturally, one of the first things prospective employers look at salary history, as a shorthand assessment of someone’s worth and talent (fair measure or not). When matched against your peers, it really becomes a handicap.

Of course, “jumping ship” to another company strictly for advancement opportunity is standard practice nowadays. At least for white-collar workers, the chances of committing to one company for your entire working career are laughably slim (unless, say, you happen to own said company — and even that’s no guarantee). So a payscale legacy reinforces the need to be nimble in personal career development. But again, that salary history does follow you around.

So what’s a fiscally-disadvantaged young worker to do? Aside from free agency, s/he can go the office tell-all blog route, which is fraught with reprimandable risk but also offers lucrative satisfaction:

Busted bloggers like Jessica Cutler (a former Capitol Hill intern whose blog, Washingtonienne, is now a novel), Nadine Haobsh (a former beauty editor whose blog Jolie in NYC earned her a two-book deal) and Jeremy Blachman (a lawyer whose blog Anonymous Lawyer is being released as “Anonymous Lawyer: A Novel” this summer) were all interns, entry-level employees and worker bees who traded up on in-the-trade secrets.

The generation entering the work world has noticed.

“Everybody I’ve read about that got fired for having a blog is on to such great things,” said Kelly Kreth, 36, who was fired from her job as the marketing and public relations director at a real estate firm in Manhattan last fall for blogging about her co-workers.

“I’ve had my online diary for six years, and it is very important to me,” Ms. Kreth said, calling the firing the best thing that happened to her. “It led to me opening my own business and making triple what I was making before.”

A book or movie deal is not a bad way to exact revenge. Of course, for every jackpot, there are thousands of unemployed crapouts.

My advice: Stay in school for as long as you can. You can blog from your dorm as easily as you can from a cubicle, and the meal plan is probably better!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/25/2006 10:43pm
Category: Bloggin', Business, College Years
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When Apple was speculated to be going the multi-button mouse route last year (which eventually culminated in the uber-configurable Mighty Mouse), I was thinking about the impact on Macintosh notebook design:

I wonder how this would affect future Powerbook development; they’ll have to start being built with two (or more) click buttons.

Of course, the Powerbooks are now passe, supplanted by the new Intel-powered MacBooks. And the new generation of Apple notebooks took care of the alterna-click option — without adding an extra button:

The MacBook adds something new: if you touch the [trackpad] with two fingers and then click the clicker, you produce what, on a Windows machine, would be a right-click of the mouse. Cool.

Cool indeed. Apple figured out how to accomodate contextual clicking without spooking its established user base (which seems to have an irrational fear of extra buttons). An elegant solution, as we’ve gotten accustomed to seeing from Cupertino.

I do wonder about how reliable the two-finger maneuver is, though. I don’t object to a different digit-shuffle to achieve the contextual-menu effect. But how sensitive is the trackpad in detecting finger width? Suppose you’re an individual with larger-than-average hands/fingers — are you going to be cursing non-stop at your MacBook because it continually thinks you’re attempting the right-click effect? Hopefully, it’s a configurable function.

UPDATE, 6/4/2006: I did finally drop into the Apple Store to briefly testdrive one of these MacBooks. The two-finger move does work well enough. However, it’s not a default setting — you have to dig into the mouse/trackpad settings and turn on this user behavior (it took me a while to figure this out). That’s crucial, because features that aren’t automatically turned on tend to not be utilized by the majority of the user base. I guess the two-finger slide will become something of an insider’s trick.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/25/2006 10:05pm
Category: Tech
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