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December 2005

You are browsing the archive for December 2005.

Merry Christmas.

December 16, 2005

Got another comment on Caiman.com’s terrible customer service from “Jeff:”

I ordered a CD one month ago-never came-impossible to get a response-but I blame half.com, too. they both stink.

And on that cheery note, First CoffeeSM’s off to New Zealand for Christmas. Really looking forward to that Istanbul-Dubai-Singapore-Brisbane-Christchurch flight, the redeeming factor is that Emirates is a great airline, puts American airlines to shame.

Merry Christmas to all, peace on earth and good will to men, see you again some time the second week of January.

First Coffee for December 16, 2005

December 16, 2005

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Lyle Lovett’s Pontiac:

Brian Scott, president of Landmark Commercial, a commercial real estate firm based in Arlington, Texas had a problem. His server at work melted down, so he went back to his apartment to retrieve a backup copy of critical business data he had stored on a portable hard drive.

“As I was leaving my apartment, the hard drive slipped out of my hand and tumbled down a flight of concrete stairs. I ran down the stairs, but after one look at the case, I knew that years of data and lots of valuable work were lost,” said Scott. “From that point on, every day I worry about backing up business data.”

Scott’s travails earned him the dubious distinction of Most Disastrous Data Loss, an “award” handed out by EVault, Inc.

First Coffee for December 15, 2005

December 15, 2005

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the ol’ iTunes Sinatra Shuffle. There comes a time in most everyone’s life when they wonder why they haven’t been listening to more Sinatra, for First CoffeeSM that time came early this year:

Get ready for new taxes on Internet phone users. One of the Federal Communications Commission’s top priorities next year, according to Chairman Kevin Martin – who should know – is to “move to collection for the Universal Service Fund that is technology-neutral.”

Martin advocates what he calls a “numbers-based approach” to collecting taxes. This means that taxes will be figured simply on the basis of phone numbers called, no matter what technology or device is used to do the actual calling.

The Universal Service Fund’s a hungry beast, as of September it had doled out $4.7 billion to rural and other underfunded carriers.

First Coffee for 14 December 2005

December 14, 2005

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the sounds of First CoffeeSM’s kids doing their homeschool work and the questions they have as Mrs. First CoffeeSM’s at the refugee center – working, not applying:

Happy birthday, Shirley Jackson, author of the 1948 story “The Lottery,” one of the creepiest, scariest, most chilling short stories ever. It’s been copied innumerable times but never equaled in its simple brutal terror – Stephen King alone has written at least two entire novels which read like write-outs of “The Lottery.”

The NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A to you and me) has awarded Savi Technology a new contract to upgrade and sustain operational support of the RFID-based network Savi built last year to track multi-national defense consignments between Europe and Afghanistan.

The contract followed a year-long assessment of the RFID “backbone” Savi deployed for NATO, and calls for purchase of additional active, data-rich Radio Frequency Identification tags and readers as well as network wide software enhancements to the International Security Assistance Force supply chain, stretching from the Netherlands and Germany through Uzbekistan to Kabul, Afghanistan.

The upgrades include installation of the Savi SmartChain Consignment Management Solution, which will enable NATO to maintain nearly real-time supply chain management and visibility, and will provide an interoperable solution for member nations to share information on both national and joint multi-national consignments.

Savi’s RFID-based network was found to meet NATO’s Standardisation Agreement for ‘best commercial practice” requirements for asset and consignment tracking and were approved by all 26 member nations.

26 nations. And you think you have a cumbersome purchase approval process at your company.

Bruce Jacquemard, Savi’s Executive VP of Worldwide Sales said the ability of interoperable RFID-based networks to link with each other when appropriate “enhances in-transit visibility of supplies and ultimately provides greater confidence to the war fighter needing the right material in the right place at the right time.”

The Irish Times reports today that Google will create about 650 jobs in Dublin, “more than doubling its Irish workforce as it steps up expansion in Europe.”

Angus Kelsell, Google’s European finance director told the Times that the Irish expansion “which will take place over two to three years, is not tax-related… it is to do with supporting our European business.”

Google’s European headquarters in Barrow Street, Dublin, are the company’s largest operation outside the US, and due to its Irish operation, the Times says, California-based Google has “significantly lowered” its tax bill for the first nine months of 2005, according to documents lodged with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S.

No doubt what Google says is right, and they’re probably not even cognizant of the fact that their effective tax rate fell to 31 per cent from 39 per cent, saving somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million a year because more of its earnings came from its Irish unit in 2005 than in 2004, taxed at the Irish rate of 12.5 per cent instead of the US rate of 35 per cent, according to the Times.

Globalization at its finest. Countries with confiscatory tax rates are going to see those companies which can move to countries which steal less of the wealth they create. You say Ireland’s losing money by taxing Google at a lower rate?

First Coffee for December 13, 2005

December 13, 2005

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Al Stewart’s sturdy pre-Year Of The Cat album, Modern Times:

First off, a big welcome to Emily Olesia Rose Tate. Beautiful little girl, beautiful mother, beautiful family, beautiful Christmas present, beautiful answer to prayer.

Who says momentum doesn’t qualify as news? Speech-recognition vendor Voxify is one of the companies First CoffeeSM’s keeping an eye on, their Automated Agents have conversational skills to handle advanced customer service calls and have proven fairly popular in the travel and hospitality industries.

In other words, they’ve got the Big Mo right now.

The company’s been picking up momentum recently the way the once-left-for-dead Minnesota Vikings have been winning games, so who can tell where they’ll end up? The Vikings as well as Voxify, that is.

The Vikes have been picking up wins, the likes of St. Louis, Green Bay and the New York Giants, while Voxify’s been picking up clients the likes of Continental Airlines, Aer Lingus and CanJet. The Vikes have Brad Johnson. Voxify’s got Adeeb Shanaa.

First Coffee for December 12, 2005

December 12, 2005

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is an iTunes mix of today’s birthday boy, Frank Sinatra:

One reason First CoffeeSM, who’s covered everything from high school girls’ basketball to A-list celebrities, municipal water bond meetings to summits of Central Asian presidents, bodies found floating in a rural lake to oil tankers in crisis on the high seas in his ersatz career as a journalist, enjoys the business technology beat is that there’s not as much hypocrisy, fluff and just plain, flat-out lying as there is in other areas of journalism:

“Mr. City Councilman, did you know, when you bought the worthless 40-acre parcel of land out past the dump on Ladies’ Mile Road that within the year the commonwealth of Virginia would appropriate it for construction of the new maximum-security prison, and pay you ten times what you paid for it five months earlier?”

“Son, I don’t know what you’re implying, but as a proud public servant of the people of Roadkill County, I can assure you…”

“Mr. City Councilman, isn’t it a fact that the commissioner for state facility procurement is a golfing buddy of yours and a good friend?”

“Son, my golfing times are apolitical, I never discuss anything of a professional nature with anyone, certainly not anything inappropriate to the public trust the voters…”

Sometimes you want to go home, put your head in a toilet and flush. So it’s particularly disquieting to see a virulent strain of mendacious spin worming its way into what should be a straightforward, clear-cut, best-man-win field of technological progress.

We speak, of course, of the spurious, specious arguments wi-fi providers put forth against municipal wi-fi. First CoffeeSM salutes the city of Tempe, Arizona, which the Associated Press reports today is “due to have wireless Internet available for all of its 160,000 residents in February.”

The AP says “consider it a municipal status symbol in the digital age: a city blanketed by a wireless Internet network, accessible at competitive prices throughout the town’s homes, cafes, offices and parks.”

Which is wrong, of course. “Status symbol” all wi-fi would be if vendors have it their way, but the city of Tempe understands that municipal wi-fi can be a great spur to local development, a leg up for those who need it to be more productive.

First Coffee for December 9, 2005

December 9, 2005

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s Symphony in B minor, the “Polonia:”

Happy birthday, Grace Hopper, born in 1906, who wrote the Common Business-Oriented Language, or COBOL in the early 1950s when she saw that most computer mistakes were the result of human mistakes in writing programs, which were almost all numbers, and thought if they could be written in plain language ordinary people could write programs, and the number of mistakes would be reduced.

Amino, an IPTV software and consumer premises equipment vendor, has announced it has been selected by Novis, a major Portuguese telco, for a residential service to be branded as “Clix Smartv.”

A commercial test launch with AmiNET110 set-top boxes is scheduled for December 2005 in Lisbon and Porto, with full commercial deployment planned for 2006 in all major cities.

The service will include an electronic program guide, Video on Demand, and a personalized choice of channels. Susanna Barbato, Managing Director of IPTV services for Novis said it would be the first time anyone had offered IPTV services in Portugal, and the company “expects to create a large subscriber base in Portugal over the coming years.”

The service will offer 50 channels for the test launch, increasing to 100 when the commercial deployment commences. The AmiNET110 was chosen by Novis for residential deployments due to its “flexibility,” said Bob Giddy, CEO Amino.

First Coffee for December 8, 2005

December 8, 2005

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the BBC Philharmonic’s broadcast version of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6:

Happy birthday, and thanks for all the great columns, Ann Coulter.

It’s great to write about the theory of CRM, how companies should be treating their customers better, and to praise companies who do it well, but we here at First CoffeeSM think it’s also appropriate to kick a little butt when somebody clearly despises their customers. This usually happens in the online world, since anybody who treated customer as badly as Caiman.com treats their customers wouldn’t last from one Christmas season to the next on a street corner shop somewhere.

First CoffeeSM printed an account of a terrible customer experience he had buying a CD via the online vendor through Amazon.com, more as an object lesson than anything else, and was astounded at how many other e-mails that provoked from customers feeling similarly ill-used, lied to and otherwise treated like a whiny ATM.

This led to another entry, “Terrible Service Costs Caiman.com Another Customer,” printed back in April, and the responses to that one are still rolling in. On the day before Thanksgiving Day “Eric” wrote in to post “Caiman.com is absolutely the worst customer service experience ever!,” and yesterday, Pearl Harbor Day – it must be a day of great moment to post on First CoffeeSM, folks – “Brett” echoed what others have written:

I ordered a DVD from Caiman from Amazon on 11/05/05.

December 7, 2005

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is from the Leonard Bernstein Century series of recordings, this one’s him conducting Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring:

Some industry reax on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0:

Barbara Darrow, one of the more perceptive industry observers, writes “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the company now offers a ‘rent-to-own’ option. But partners wanting true multi-tenancy will have to wait for the next release, code-named Titan.”

Tenancy is an issue others have commented on as well. This reporter heard from RightNow Technologies’ CEO Greg Gianforte, who explained that Microsoft isn’t actually hosting the applications, their partners are and will offer single tenant hosting.

“One of the breakthroughs in hosting is multi-tenancy, multiple applications on a shared set of hardware, which is the standard for successful software-as-a-service companies,” Gianforte said. “There are no economies of scale or margin in single tenant hosting.

First Coffee for December 6, 2005

December 6, 2005

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the sprawling, brilliant mess that is the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street, with the most powerful blues slam jam ever recorded by white guys, “Stop Breaking Down.” Hey, it’s not a morning without at least one ridiculously overgeneralized opinion:

Happy birthday, and a reverent tip of the top hat and cane, to Ira Gershwin.

A recent Harris poll found that 20 percent of Americans think “VoIP” is “a European hybrid car.” Not a bad guess, really. Ten percent think it’s “a low-carb vodka.”

Microsoft Corp. is announcing that its new CRM release, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0, which gets its debut party today, is currently in use in “a cross-section of its worldwide customer base,” including “small businesses, midsize companies and large enterprises,” and represent both “new customers and those that are upgrading from Microsoft CRM 1.2,” according to company officials.

That’s right, there wasn’t any 2.0.

First Coffee for December 5, 2005

December 5, 2005

By David Sims

David@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me, rapidly becoming one of First Coffee’s favorite records:

First CoffeeSM is in his new home in Istanbul, boy it felt good coming back. This is where he lived in the early ‘90s, met Mrs. First Coffee here – yes, it’s the kind of city where Americans can meet New Zealanders – and has never really shaken the desire to come back. Now that we’re back here, moving from the Mediterranean city of Antalya over the weekend, it feels like we’ve come home.

Walking up Istiklal Caddesi, the great pedestrian boulevard-outdoor zoo that is the heart of the most fascinating city in the world (coffee shops along Istiklal should charge admission for those of us who sit at their outdoor café tables, hour by hour, watching all the world pass by) to the Union Church yesterday morning we met the pastor’s wife, a good friend of ours, and asked why the street was all torn up.

Well, they’re repaving. People walked past workers swinging picks, ladies dressed for church delicately stepping on the paving stones the workers laid in the mud thirty seconds earlier.

First Coffee for December 1, 2005

December 1, 2005

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is that great rendition of “You Belong To Me” from the Shrek soundtrack:

This may be the last coherent column for a while (“Whaddya mean “last?” Yeah yeah…) as tomorrow First Coffee packs up the wife and kids – actually the wife, known to friends informally as St. Sue, is doing most of the packing while First CoffeeSM downs caffeine and mutters gloomily about the BlackBerry ruling – and moves house twelve hours up the road to Istanbul. The truck’s coming at nine tomorrow morning, we’re flying up at five to start life in the most fascinating, diverse and surprising city in the world.

St. Sue will miss the beaches, hot weather and relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle here in Antalya. First CoffeeSM… won’t.

Nokia (hey, first time that company’s been mentioned in the column) has announced its plans to expand its mobile device production in Dongguan, China. This expansion will, according to the savants in Espoo,” provide more capacity and flexibility to meet the growing market demand worldwide, especially China and Asia.”

Dongguan is considered a “strategic location” for Nokia’s global supply network for mobile devices – “Dongguan is an elementary part of our global manufacturing network,” according to Raimo Puntala, Senior Vice President, Operations and Logistics, Nokia, who described increasing capacity in Dongguan as part of Nokia’s strategy to improve its competitive position in the fast-growing Chinese and Asian markets.

Nokia’s hoping the expanded factory will begin production in the third quarter of 2006, and expects to ramp up gradually, with the work force reaching approximately 1,900 employees when production is at full scale. The expanded production facilities will be located adjacent to Nokia’s existing facility.

Nokia currently has nine mobile device factories, and the Nokia Chennai plant in India is planned to be operational in the first half of 2006.

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