October 31, 2005
Rare Floating Island in Springfield MA
I've got to see this. Neighbors nudge floating island.
Specialists say the floating island is one of few in the country and perhaps dates back centuries.
Scientists suggest that the island is, at its base, made up of a webbing of tree roots and other organic material. Methane gas is believed to contribute to its ability to float. The trees on it act as sails and routinely send it on a slow careen around the pond.
Every few years, according to neighbors, it crashes into someone's backyard, sometimes taking out a tree or fence.
''It's been all over," said Philip Cote, who has lived in the neighborhood for 44 years.
C.J. Morel, of CJ's Towing in Springfield, said his crew hooked straps around four of the island's biggest trees and attached them to cables. Then a truck on the opposite end of the pond pulled until the island came free.
Hat tip to Wizbang, Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away
October 30, 2005
Gas Taxes Greater than Profits
This surprised though it shouldn't have. Governments collect more in gas taxes than the largest US oil companies earn in profits.
Since 1977, governments collected more than $1.34 trillion, after adjusting for inflation, in gasoline tax revenues—more than twice the amount of domestic profits earned by major U.S. oil companies during the same period:
October 28, 2005
Bulging Wallets and a Sense of Adventure
As Boomers age, AARP is changing to profit from the age wave they were first in taking seriously.
They are not alone.
More companies are waking up to the fact that the 76 million baby boomers - those born in the United States from 1946 to 1964 - are moving into old age in huge waves. Indeed, some 10,000 boomers turn 50 every day, and they are entering their later years with bulging wallets and a sense of adventure.
The New York Times reports AARP is selling more products - not just car insurance, but cruises, CDs and concerts, investment funds, a consulting service and a "seal for approval" program where it will endorse for a fee, products it likes. They are looking for
a telecommunications partner to help it devise an elder-friendly cellphone service, and for vendors who will make easy-to-open luggage, better home lighting and other products that AARP can sell. and investing $10 million to do so. In addition, they formed a subsidiary AARP Financial to create a range of financial products and services for members.
AARPs notion of what being older is really like is changing as well.
"We're going to downplay grief and loss, widowhood, death and dying, and emphasize ways to help people stay productive and age comfortably, in the place of their choice," said Nancy A. LeaMond, group executive officer for social impact.
Phantoms and Rogue Banks
This is the story of how the UK banking system could have collapsed in the early 1990s, but for the forbearance of a junior barrister who also happened to be an expert in computer law - and who discovered that at that time the computing department of one of the banks issuing ATM cards had "gone rogue", cracking PINs and taking money from customers' accounts with abandon.
The reason you're hearing it now is that, with Chip and PIN cards finally in widespread use in the UK, the risk of the ATM network being abused as it was has fallen away. And now that junior barrister, Alistair Kelman, wanted to get paid for thousands of pounds of work that he did under legal aid, when he was running a class action on behalf of more than 2,000 people who had suffered "phantom withdrawals" from their bank accounts. What you're about to read comes from the documents he submitted last week to the High Court, pursuing his claim to payment
Kelman thinks that during the 1990s, “the UK banking system was gravely at risk of collapse at all times because of this substantial security flaw."
October 21, 2005
Banks will Adopt Two factor authentication
Federal regulators will soon require two factor authentication for bank web sites according a letter to banks last week.
User names and passwords are just to easy to exploit by criminals.
Security keyrings are being distributed to 30,000 online customers of Lloyds TSB Bank. to provide two-factor authentication.
To log into their accounts, customers must provide a new six digit number from their keyrings. The numbers change every 30 seconds. Each keyring has a unique identity and the customer must provide a password as well.
Two factor authentication
October 20, 2005
Businessweek has a cover story Love Those Boomers.
It's clear that the boomers are more comfortable with their age than marketers give them credit for. "It'll be cool to be gray," says consultant Meredith. Once companies pick up on that, they'll start to see green amid the silvery tones.
What are the new attitudes and lifestyles that BW says are a marketer's dream?
• I'm a Grownup, not just a big kid.
• Fiftysomething can be beautiful
• I'm not as set in my ways as you think
• I'm rewinding, not winding down
• I want to live longer and healthier
October 13, 2005
New Hierarchy of Needs
From Mary Meeker's presentation at Web 2.0. Works for me
October 12, 2005
The Book of Privileges
A sailor on board the Pinta sighted land early in the morning of October 12,1492 and a new era began.
Just before his final voyage to America, Christopher Columbus authorized the four copies of his archival collection of original documents through Isabel and Fernando granted him titles, revenues, powers and privileges to him and his descendents.
Called the Book of Privileges, it is one of the top treasures of the Library of Congress
My Butler Blogs
Was blogging predicted in the 19th century in Russia?
Well the Russian Prince Vladimir Odoesky in 1837 did predict something like blogging - for the year 4338.
“The thing is that many households here publish such journals that replace common correspondence. Such journals usually provide information about the hosts’ good or bad health, family news, different thoughts and comments, small inventions, invitations to receptions.”
However, Odoevsky, a prince and a wealthy man, could not imagine people taking so much bother to keep their acquaintances updated on their daily affairs. He suggested the job would be carried out by the butler.
“The job of publishing such a journal daily or weekly is carried out by the butler. It is done very simply: receiving an order from the masters, he makes a notice of what they tell him, then make copies by camera obscura and sends them to the acquaintances.”
Hat tip Steve Rubel, From Russia with Love
October 11, 2005
Blogs as Extension of Marketing Strategy
Toby Bloomberg at Diva Marketing has some fine metrics on how blogs can increase sales and some good tips to jump-start your blog strategy.
Why People Blog
Fascinating blogger study by Edelman and Technorati, Why People Blog.
34% blog to increase their visibility as an authority in their field.
32% blog to create a record of their thoughts.
20% blog to connect with others.
Bloggers trust other bloggers when it comes to new products (63%), far more than company websites (26%) for the best advice on new products.
Tara says the study justifies her cult of Cluetrain. She also has a wonderful Dave Weinberger quote, "We're writing ourselves into history one blog post at a time."
October 8, 2005
Turning the Pages
This is just so great. From the British Library, Turning the Pages. You can leaf through 14 great books and magnify the details. I got chills looking at the Diamond Sutra, the Lindasfarne Gospel, and Lewis Carroll's original Alice in Wonderland.
October 7, 2005
Renouncing a Treasure for Free Press
A robot discovered gold on Chile's Robinson Crusoe Island, actually a lot more, a treasure of 800 metric tons of gold, silver and jewels, the long-lost treasure of Spanish Conquistador Juan Esteban Ubilla y Echeverria, worth over $10 billion.
Initially, the company threatened to withhold the location unless the government of Chile agree to give them a share in the loot. Now the company, Warner Technologies says all it wanted was the free press to show off all that their robot could do.
The job of excavating the treasure is too great for any company. "For this you need something bigger: the state," said the company as reported by Alaska's King.
Wagner instead agreed to turn over the coordinates to the government on the condition that if the treasure is excavated, a portion would be given to a number of Chilean charities, as well as the island’s residents.
October 5, 2005
Keep the Change
I think this is brilliant. Kudos to Bank of America as they implement the new "Keep the Change" program.
The service dubbed "Keep the Change" allows customers to round up their debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and put the change into an interest-earning savings account.
For example, a debit card purchase of a sandwich and drink for $5.45 would be increased to $6, with the extra 55 cents going into the customer's savings account.
"Our customers have told us they're not saving the way they wish they were," Diane Morais, senior vice president of deposits and debit products, said Tuesday.
"We designed a very simple way to do it with what they do every day," she said. "It provides an easy way to save so they won't miss it."
To drum up interest in the "Keep the Change" program, the bank will match all contributions to the savings account for the first three months. After that, the bank will match 5 percent of the total. The matching funds would be credited annually.
The bank has an annual cap of $250 for "Keep the Change" deposits. And the bank requires a minimum balance of $100 for a customer to obtain the service.
"It's very simple and that's the beauty of it," Morais said. "It's easy to understand and our customers get it immediately. And the response has been great."
While the savings rate in the United States was as high as 11 percent in the post-World War II era, it has plummeted to less than 2 percent in recent years.
Morais said the program is not aimed at any particular type of customer. "It has universal appeal," she said. "Everyone wants to save money for their children's education or for special purchases."
October 4, 2005
I am not the only person who's noticed that most people make their major financial decisions around major life events. The average adult experiences 10-15 critical life events during their lifetime. That includes marriage, new child, divorce, loss of a spouse, loss of a parent, job loss, career change, empty nest, moving, retirement and serious illness.
Every major life change ripples through a life, requiring organization, financial decisions, legal changes and medical choices.
Now Yahoo Search will begin focusing on life events according to Blogspotting.
Yahoo! Search Marketing Life Series is an ongoing research series that will explore the significance of search as people experience major life events. It will examine the short-term opportunities and long-term implications for marketers and advertisers, and offer a new way to think about search marketing