Shock News: Being a Dick Isn’t Good for Business

When a guy (Dave) emailed Ocean Marketing for an update on his order for the “Avenger” game controller, he was met with abuse and condescention.

 

“We do value our customers but sometimes we get children like you we just have to put you in the corner with your im stupid hat on.”

“im sure you don’t complain to activision or epic games so put on your big boy hat and wait it out like everyone else.”

 

Dave took exception (quite rightly) and then CC’d in Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade fame.

Mike challenged Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo’s attitude and said he wouldn’t be welcome at the popular PAX gaming convention he organised every year.

Not quite understanding who he was talking to, Paul went on the offensive again, dropping names of people he “knew”.

 

“I’m born and raised in Boston I know the people who run the city inside and out watch the way you talk to people you never know who they know it’s a small industry and everyone knows everyone. Your acting like a douchbag not that it matters pax east pax west , e3 , CES , Gamer Con , SSXW ,Comic Con, Germany I’m all over the place. If we want to be there we will be there with industry badges or with a booth you think I can’t team up with turtle beach , Callibur or Koy Christmas , I can’t get Kevin Kelly to pull some strings or G4 , Paul Eibler Ex CEO of take 2 ,  Rich Larocco Konami , Cliff Blizinski Epic who were working with on a gears version , Activision who were working with on a MW3 and Spider man Bundle , The Convention Center Owners themselves , Mayor of Boston come on Bud you run a show that’s all you do and lease a center in Cities you have no pull in its all about who you know not what you do.”

 

At this point, Mike decides to drop his trump card onto the table:

 

“I do run Pax, but I also run a website called penny arcade. It’s kinda popular.”

 

From there, it becomes a penis-sizing competition and Mike wins. In fact, it doesn’t just end with Mike pushing Paul’s face into the digital mud, Mike posts the whole shooting match on his exceedingly good, and popular website:

http://penny-arcade.com/resources/just-wow1.html

 

The Aftermath

And that was the end of it? Not quite. It was just the start.

Ocean Marketing’s Facebook Wall is now a hive of targeted abuse. Paul says he has had over 7,000 emails from people showing their disgust at how he has treated his customer. One poster said:

 

“Part of me wants to feel bad for your girlfriend and your baby. But I was raised to live by a rule wherein you treat others as you want to be treated. That is to say, unless you want to be treated poorly, don’t be a giant douchebag. You did this to yourself, and to your family. It’s not our fault, or Penny-Arcade’s fault, or consumer Dave’s fault. You did this, and it isn’t us you should be apologizing to – internet douchebag bullies are the same everywhere, and we’ll deal with you one way or another – but your girlfriend and your child. Your business is effectively dead and your reputation in tatters. You ought to be thinking long and hard about how you’re going to support them. You can be a deadbeat on the internet all you like, but please don’t be a deadbeat dad. Please try to change, for the sake of your child.

Sincerely,
Someone who’s actually really effing pleased that you got what was coming to you. Justice is beautiful.”

 

Ocean Finance is no longer a distributor of the Avenger controller. Its creator, David Kotkin, said:

 

“We apologize for our poor representation from Ocean Marketing. We wanted to give Paul a chance. He was rough around the edges, but he had drive and enthusiasm. However his behavior was unprovoked, unnecessary, and unforgivable. We are no longer represented by Ocean Marketing.”

 

But there is a positive side to Paul’s self-destruction of his [Anti-] PR company. He has become the Internet’s latest meme.

 

SEE YOU AT PAX EAST - I'll be the one without the booth

 

Many thanks to @_MarkNorris for the heads up on this story.

Zynga’s $10 IPO, and Salesforce’s “Do” takes on Jive

It’s a big week for tech companies going public! Tomorrow (Thursday 16th December 2011), Zynga, the company behind such social gaming classics as Farmville, Cityville, Mafia Wars and Words with Friends, will begin trading on NASDAQ, just three days after social-networks-for-enterprises company, Jive, did the very same.

Jive set an expected stock price of “$8-$10”, and Zynga has set the same. This values the company at around $10bn and should raise around $900 million.

 

Jive Stocks

After the setting the $8-$10 price on Jive’s shares, early trading saw the price jump to $12 and finished at $15 after the first day (Tuesday). Here’s a live look at Jive’s performance today, courtesy of Google Finance charts, (so blame them if it’s broken :)):

Jive

 

Salesforce “Do”

Speaking of Jive, today saw the launch of a very credible competitor. Salesforce has unleashed its new social-mobile network platform, “Do“. It’s easier to show you what it is rather than try to describe it:

 

Do – the app to get work done with anyone. from Amit Kulkarni on Vimeo.

 

If I was Jive, I’d be a little bit worried, Salesforce are the leaders of social business. However, as I type this, Jive is trading up 1% since this morning, so investors don’t seem rattled.

Don’t Worry, Past-Dweller, There Is No Cloud.

If buzzwords were currency, the one worth the most at the moment is undoubtably “Cloud”. The problem with buzzwords is that nobody puts any faith in them, they’re bandwagons and may be gone tomorrow. Who wants to invest in something that is vague enough to mean pretty much anything? (There’s a “fuzzy” joke in there somewhere).

 

A brief rant about Carbon Tax

But there is good news, buzzwords tend to be reinventions of things we’re all already familiar with. Remember the “Greenhouse Effect”? That was humans killing the planet by wearing deodorant. When we took all the nasty CFCs out of our bodysprays and the temperature kept on rising, rather than admit they might be wrong about the human effect, scientists rebranded it “Global Warming”. People with Range Rovers and engines that produced enough power to give you a smile on your face were castigated like despot tyrannical dictators. When the planet suddenly started cool down and we suffered some of the worst winters on record, again scientists were loathe to admit they might be wrong, instead it became an even vaguer term, “Climate Change”.

This is just semantics and at the heart of it lies an age-old buzzword that we’re all familiar with; “Seasons”.

 

Get back to talking about Cloud, Richard

“Cloud” is no different, in fact it has a very slow-moving lineage with roots back in the 1960s when the US “Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency” (DARPA) built a distributed computer network that was intended to enable nationwide communication even in the event of Ivan bombarding the United States with Uranium-tipped missiles.

The so-called DARPANet became The Internet, an interconnected landscape of computers which used a common language to talk to eachother (“HTTP”), became attractive to consumers and normal-folk in the 1980s and 1990s with the invention of the “World Wide Web”. Tim Berners-Lee was the smart-alec behind the WWW, he was working for CERN at the time, the big European research centre that is currently smashing subatomic particles together at speeds that create impacts akin to two aircraft destroyers crashing head-on. The invention of HTML – the text language behind web pages – and Tim’s coining of the phrase World Wide Web meant that the simple act of a computer asking another computer for information, and then that second computer giving the first computer the information it had asked for, suddenly grew legs and became things like Google, Amazon and Facebook. And Yahoo!. Remember them?

That is the basis for “The Web”, a buzzword that’s now so commonplace that even our most elders are silver-surfing it. Requests for information and Responses in the form of webpages, or images, or Facebook statuses. Etc. Etc.

 

But What is a “Website”?

A website is content that lives on a computer somewhere on “the internet”. The computers (called “Web Servers”) that websites live on tend to be rented or leased (this equates to a monthly “hosting fee”) and you pay more for more disk space or a more capable connection to the Internet.

 

But isn’t that The Cloud?

Exactly my point. Although the recent surge in “cloud” focus has brought refinements to the Web concept, it is still at its heart, a Request/Response system, using HTTP to talk between computers, spitting out content (usually HTML).

The things that are new are not dramatic changes, in fact the major change is more granular control over the “content” on the Servers so the payment model has changed slightly (if you believe the marketing, this is a change for the better, but there are only a limited number of people raving about their savings). You can now store files as “blobs”, you can push your program code onto a “compute server”, and your data is stored in SQL and NoSQL databases. Each one charging slightly differently to optimise bang-for-buck.

But don’t be afraid of the terminology, there is nothing new to see here. This delineation of files/programs/data has always been there on The Web, even since the early 90’s when the only way to view web pages was on a black screen with luminous green text.

 

So should I invest in the cloud?

The question you need to ask is, would you invest if it was all still just called “The Web”?

Jive Goes Public!

Social Networks-for-Enterprise specialist, Jive Software is to go public this morning (Tuesday 13th December, 2011) with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) that could value the company in excess of half a billion dollars. The company will trade on the NASDAQ as “JIVE”.

I love Jive, as I said in my blog last month, it embodies everything the Internet should be. Jive brings together social concepts and drives them deep into business processes. It levels the playing field so that CEOs and front-line workers can collaborate in a seamless, transparent and traceable way.

The scenarios I usually give to push home the serious benefits of bringing social into Enterprise are:

The Sales Tag-Team
Imagine an Outbound Sales Clerk is about to call a current, but latent, customer to discuss an upgrade or a new product. They open the customer account to retrieve the customer’s contact information. Meanwhile, another Sales Clerk, who is “watching” the customer’s account (because they have previously sold to the customer) is alerted that the account has been opened by the first clerk.

The second clerk contacts the first via instant messaging and, after establishing that they are about to contact them to try and sell something, recommends that they talk about dogs because the purchaser at the customer’s business is a serious dog lover, and once that rapport is built up they’ll buy anything!

The second clerk then gets notified half an hour later confirming a new Sales Order has been added to the account, and an instant message from the first clerk to thank them for their advice.

A second scenario:

The Collaborative Stock Pick
A warehouse worker is running through a picking list trying to fulfil an order. He manages to find 9 of the 10 “Widget X2000” items on the list but there aren’t any more in stock. He adds a note to the picking list on the computer saying they are out of the items. Immediately, the original Sales Clerk is notified of the shortfall, and contacts the customer. Using the live stock list, they settle for a “Widget X2500” and a bit of discount. Within 5 minutes of the warehouse worker adding the note, he is notified that an X2500 model will be fine to complete the order and the order is despatched.

Both of these stories are possible with Jive’s social networking software. And much, much more.

In last night’s early trading, the IPO price estimate of “$8-$10” was exceeded and the company sold 13.4 million shares at $12, instead of the 11.7 million shares they had expected to sell at $8-$10. That $12 price values the company in excess of $600m.

The NASDAQ Bell

This morning, Jive CEO, Tony Zingale, will ring the NASDAQ opening bell to celebrate the IPO.

 

Keep track of Jive’s first day of trading here, or by putting “JIVE” into the widget below:


New York’s Most Important Building

Carrier Hotel
60 Hudson Street, where signals get social

The terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, may have missed an opportunity to deliver a serious blow to capitalism as well as killing thousands of innocent people. Situated just a few hundred yards from the Twin Towers sits an art-deco, red-brick building which houses the network infrastructure equipment for international communications and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Known as a “Carrier Hotel”, because it offers rented floorspace to network carriers, 60 Hudson Street is important because it is a primary “meet-me” location for over 100 comms providers to exchange signals. In an article from 5 days before the attacks, the author chillingly identifies the building as “Ground Zero” for international telecommunications.

 

Lets Play the Postulation Game

So what would have happened if Al Qaeda had smashed a plane into “60 Hudson”?

It doens’t take a genius to realise you’d find one major hub in the transatlantic communications network would be severed. But that is a mostly intangible effect. Nobody would be rushing to the emergency room complaining of a lack of an Internet connection. And anyway, there are satellites to work around problems like that.

What is really scary is what else is in the building besides 70 million feet of cables and 30 miles of conduit.

The building has such a huge reliance on electrical power (it houses a 10kV DC power plant inside it) that it contains a vast amount of fuel oil to power the generators. The New York Times says that 80,000 gallons of fuel oil is stored in the building.

Lawyers have already stated that if a fire broke out in the building, this stored fuel would pose a huge risk to nearby housing and schools. Combine this with the 60,000lbs of fuel a Boeing 767 would have on board for a cross-country flight and you end up with a double whammy for communications and casualties.

 

Thirteen-point-three Milliseconds

It’s vital that you don’t underestimate the importance of 60 Hudson. Trades of stocks and shares that go through here (from London, LA, Hong Kong, etc.) are so important that vast amounts of effort and money goes into keeping the data flowing in and flowing out at incredible speeds.

It is 825 miles to Chicago from this particular Carrier Hotel. To improve the latency (the delay between signals leaving one point and arriving at another) a trench has been dug all of those 825 miles to gain an extra 3 microseconds on the existing fastest route. Consider it takes 25 milliseconds to blink, the round trip along 825 miles is 13.3 milliseconds. 3 microseconds is only a matter of feet, and yet, it could make or break enormous deals.

Kevin Slavin talks more about this in his TED Global 2011 talk:

 

Imagine how much money it costs to build an 825 mile trench and pack it with fibre-optic cables… For 3 microseconds!

This is undoubtedly the most important building in New York City, but it might also just be the start. Kevin says that if we’re happy to dig a trench that’s longer then the British Isles are tall for the sake of a 3 microsecond jump on the competition, then we may end up terraforming the oceans just to plant server farms 50% closer to the deals that are being made.

 

The Mid-Atlantic Holiday Hub

In a recent daydream, I considered the problem that trans-atlantic aircraft journeys have. These aircraft must obey strict reliability and procedural rules called ETOPS – Extended Range Operations. This means that they can fly up to 3 hours away from a suitable airport, even if they have only two engines, in order to make the most direct routing.

ETOPS means that most aircraft take a slightly more northerly route than the most direct one because this keeps them as close as the rules dictate to suitable airports like Gander in Newfoundland, or Keflavik in Iceland.

If we are going to spend all this money building platforms in the Atlantic to intercept financial information sooner than the eventual recipients 50% of the Ocean away, it doesn’t seem too outlandish that the platform could be used for another benefit: a Mid-Atlantic Emergency Airport.

With a nice big runway to allow it to operate as an ETOPS-approved airport, it would also allow transatlantic air traffic to take more direct routes.

But why stop there?

Extend it further into a luxurious holiday resort that uses oil-rig technologies to keep it steady even in rough seas (the Atlantic Ocean is about 4 miles deep in the middle, so the resort would have to “float”), and you have a unique holiday offering that is a mere 4 hours flight from most of Western Europe and even less than that from the Eastern Seaboard of the US.

This idea has legs I tells ya!

LOT 767 Gear-Up Landing: Initial Report

LOT Boeing 767
LOT Boeing 767-300ER performing a gear-up landing

Remember back in October when one of Polish airline LOT’s Boeing 767-300ERs skidded to a graceful landing without landing-gear at Warsaw’s Frederick Chopin’s airport? Well, the first report of what happened is out. It’s embarassingly anticlimactic.

Failure of the Primary Landing Gear Extension System

The Boeing 767-300ER has various levels of redundancy. For example, the primary flight controls (ailerons, elevators, rudder) have two backup systems in addition to their primary system.

The landing gear has one backup system (called the “Alternate Landing Gear Extension system”) in addition to the Primary Landing Gear Extension System. So when the “Center” hydraulic system failed as the aircraft took off out of Newark Airport before crossing the Atlantic and heading to Warsaw, the pilots weren’t too concerned. The 767 has three hydraulic systems, Left, Right and “Center”. Some discussion with maintenance people on the ground revealed the extent of the failure was the loss of the primary landing gear extension.

Safe in the knowledge that they had two further hydraulic systems and a backup landing gear extension system, they opted to continue on their journey to Poland.

Upon arriving in Poland, however, they realised that the aircraft was in a much more crippled state than first thought.

 

Failure of the Alternate Landing Gear Extension System

The pilots approached Warsaw Airport and tried to use the alternate system to drop the landing gear. Normally when the gear is extended and locked in place an instrument in the cockpit shows three green lights, in addition, there is an increase in noise in the cockpit because the nose gear is situated directly under the pilots and causes a lot of audible air resistance. On this particular approach there was neither of these indications that the gear had dropped properly.

The landing was aborted and the tower confirmed that the gear appeared stowed.

The pilots then tried a third means of making the landing gear extend called “gravity drop”. It is just that, they would have unlocked the uplocks on the gear and then performed some mild aerobatics to try and shake the wheels free of their wells.

Obviously, this didn’t work either. The uplocks hadn’t released.

 

Aftermath

After the plane came to a stop on the runway, the passengers disembarked and the recovery got underway, one of the first things the recovery teams did was to hoist the aicraft up and try to extend the gear. It didn’t work, vindicating the pilots. A check of all systems and circuits then took place. Specifically of interest, noted in the report (here in its native Polish and summarised in English here) were the positions of two circuit breaker switches:

  • C829 BAT BUS DISTR – OFF
  • C4248 ALT EXT MOTOR – ON

 

The C829 Circuit Breaker Switch

The C829 breaker is at floor-level on the First Officer’s side of the cockpit. It is located where many crews place flight bags (the bags that pilots carry containing navigational and procedural charts) and not easily visible. Its position is not indicated on any display in the cockpit, and most importantly to the situation that resulted, when the crew aborted the first approach in Warsaw and spoke to their maintenance people, it wasn’t picked up as a possible cause of the problems.

So was this the culprit?

Well, sadly, yes. As soon as the maintenance staff switched C829 to ON, the alternate landing gear system was powered and the gear extended.

Before you judge LOT, or Poland, or the pilots, or the maintenance staff, stop and think. We’ve all punched printers and scanners and thrown them across the room when they wouldn’t work only to find we hadn’t plugged them in… and it’s always easier to analyse after the fact than when you’re in an aircraft doing 300kph over North Eastern Europe with a slowly dropping fuel gauge and no way of getting onto terra firma safely.

My repeated respect to the pilots for landing so perfectly and to Boeing for making the 767 such a tough nut. Even if flicking a breaker switch would have avoided all of this hassle… 🙂

UK Gov: Schools Should Become Banks If They Want the Money They Need

This Wednesday, 30th November, public sector workers (i.e. those employed by the Government) will go on strike over a dispute about pensions. The Government says that public sector pensions are “too good” and they should be reduced. What they’re not saying is that they’re doing this to pay for the interest on the loans they took to bail the banks out.

Read that last sentence again and then let me reiterate in a dramatic fashion:

The Government would rather take loans to support the banking system (and their outrageous bonus schemes) than pay the hard-working citizens of “Great” Britain the money they were promised when they signed up to provide essential public services.

Yes, public sector jobs have good pensions but there is a critical fact here which sheds a very poor light on our elected overlords. It is so unnecessarily evil that I feel I must write in capitals: THERE IS NO DEFICIT IN PUBLIC SECTOR PENSIONS. That’s right. The Government CAN afford to pay nurses and teachers etc. their well-deserved pensions, they are CHOOSING to rape these pension schemes just to pay back that loan interest.

What drives the knife even deeper into this scandalous abuse of power is that Members of Parliament aren’t even leading by example. Their pensions (which are significantly better than your average nurse or teacher pension) will remain untouched. MPs get expenses, second homes and, when they’re tired and need to lie down for a bit, they get the pensions they signed up for and they have worked for.  It’s all double standards. It’s a  “Screw the proletariat while we swim in pools of their cash” runaway morality train.

Is nobody else sickened by this?

I loved the Government’s offer a couple of weeks ago. They said the public sector workers needn’t “lose a day’s pay” and instead they should perform a “token walkout” for 15 minutes, and then get back to work. And that way they wouldn’t lose a penny. But take your average 4th year teaching professional, they will lose £100 the day of the strike. But if they lie down and just take the pathetic, nepotistic behaviour of the Government without fuss they will lose £100 PER MONTH from their pensions.

Please, for the sake of sanity and Doing The Right Thing, support your local public sector workers during their strike this Wednesday!