How Not to Formulate a PR Response

Consumerist ran a post about how Monster Cables was ripping off customers with really high priced products that were technically indistinguishable from other offerings.

Monster Cables responded with a lengthy PR response that:

1) offered an extensive tutorial on how profit margins are calculated

2) blamed high prices on retailers

3) included a paragraph in the distinction between HDMI 1.3 spec and 1.3 category 2, along with a statement from the VP of Marketing at HDMI licensing saying that “buying the best cables possible will insure that one always gets the best possible digital picture for the components they own.” Shocking, I know.

4) not much to rebut the notion that Monster Cables are basically the same as bargain priced cables.

Brilliant move on Monster’s part, in one press release they confirm their cables are overpriced and not that different from other cables on the market.

Gov. Schwarzenegger orders more cuts to reduce state’s big deficit

Those proposals will likely resurface in coming weeks and months as Schwarzenegger and the Legislature hammer out a more than $140 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

[From Gov. Schwarzenegger orders more cuts to reduce state's big deficit]

Build your own California budget, I did and in 2011/12 I generate a $6 billion surplus by cutting some taxes, slowing the rate of spending increases and simply not doing things that the state should not being doing in the first place, like taxing carbon.

Actually on the tax front I did increase personal income taxes for my own tax bracket, which illustrates a basic point that Sacramento consistently fails to grasp: I am willing to pay more taxes but only if the proceeds are used responsibly, if the additional revenue that is being generated from me is used to simply drive more spending, then no dice.

Lastly, what the hell is wrong with politicians in Sacramento when they casually throw around billion dollar numbers funded by YOU. In 1999 the State of California had an $82 billion dollar budget, in 2000 it rose 21% to over $100 billion and led to the recall of then Governor Davis, but under Guvernator Schwarzenegger the State of California has seen it’s budget increase to $140 billion of your tax dollars and again slip into the red by $14 billion.

So let’s put this into a different perspective: despite record revenues of $126 billion (forecast) that eclipses by a wide margin the entire budget that Schwarzenegger inherited, the Governor and the Legislature cannot now put forward a balanced proposal that meets the state’s obligations with the already considerable revenues the state’s residents are providing to them.

And Perata, Nunez, the California Teachers Association, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees wonder why modified term limits didn’t pass voter scrutiny.

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Now It’s Just Blu-Ray

Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders.

[From Toshiba : Press Releases 19 February, 2008]

In December of last year I wrote that high def DVD “is the new laserdisc,” as in a technology innovation that fails to capture market share despite significant technical advantages.

While the jury is still out on this, I think I will ultimately be proven wrong for two reasons.

First and foremost, Toshiba has capitulated as it became increasingly clear that the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray format war was not at a stalemate. With major studios backing Blu-Ray and Wal-Mart throwing their weight behind the standard, it became less of a war and more of a skirmish with one side have vastly superior forces. In the end, I believe it will be recorded that Netflix was the tipping point, as they have an ability to accelerate Blu-Ray distribution by countless orders of magnitude and provide the critical incentive for consumers to upgrade their hardware.

However, while it’s clear that studios want Blu-Ray because of the strong DRM and retailers want it because of the profit margins, it’s not yet clear that consumers want it.

There is no denying that the picture quality is outstanding and with plasmas and LCD displays flying off shelves, one would think that there would be a perfect storm developing. But take a visit to any Best Buy and a different story is being told, one with ample supplies of players and few people browsing the extensive rack of Blu-Ray titles. The price points are still too early adopter and the average consumer doesn’t appreciate the advantages because their high-def capable display is so under-utilized.

It’s not that consumers don’t want high definition, but rather that they aren’t demanding it and if they were we would be seeing a rapidly expanding lineup of channels and content over cable and satellite first, which we aren’t. I’m not big on forecasting timelines, but I do suspect we’ll be well into next Christmas before afterburner on this upgrade cycle is fully lit.

Shared work spaces a wave of the future

“We’re seeing a clear trend to free agents and personal businesses, due to outsourcing, layoffs, and people looking for work-life balance or more work flexibility,” said King. “That’s going to result in more people working on their own either full or part time. Those folks need support. And what’s really cool about co-working is it solves that problem for a very modest amount of money.”

[From Shared work spaces a wave of the future]

I have a great arrangement with NewsGator, I predominately work in the Bay Area but have no fixed office by choice. The executive suite option was discussed when I first joined but I opted not to take it for two reasons.

I am pretty frugal when it comes to business expenses so paying $600+ a month for a suite just didn’t appeal to my fiscal sensibilities… I’d rather have that go to marketing and sales activities. Aside from finances, the primary reason I didn’t want this is that I enjoy my current arrangements far too much and don’t want to give them up.

My home office is well appointed and when the weather is nice I can open up the doors to my garden and it feels like I’m working outside. I have cable news running in the background, an industrial grade espresso machine, and most importantly, our neighborhood is very peaceful and quiet. This home office arrangement results in me driving a lot fewer miles providing I’m smart about scheduling my days, but having all of that I still crave the social interactions of being in an office environment.

At least a few days of the week you will find me at various offices around town, the places of business of friends and associates who are generous. Socialtext in Palo Alto is a prime example of this, Ross has always believed in community work spaces for anyone who wanted to drop in, use the network, and get some work done. Right next door to Socialtext is Echosign and when I ask Jason for a conference room to use he has been very accommodating. But my ace in the hole is a venture capital group up on Sand Hill Road that has been more than generous in extending “our casa is su casa” privileges to me. In fact, my business cards have their address on them.

I mentioned to Brian Reynard, founder of the Silicon Valley Executive Network, that we should pull together a list of offices that will extend guest privileges to the membership. The key to making this work is having a vetting process, as is the case with the SVEN membership, so that companies who open their doors to non-employees can rest assured that their spaces are not being abused and employees distracted.

This type of arrangement presents great collaboration opportunities as well. I know from my own experience that when an opportunity to help rises, I pitch in to help and I know for sure that other people in my situation do the same.

Congratulations to Dan Farber

Dan is one of the people I have been fortunate to meet and get to know over the years. He is deserving of this promotion to CNET and I wish him good fortune going forward. I really can’t say enough good things about Dan so I’ll just leave it at that!

Big news at CNET today – editor in chief Jai Singh is out, and Dan Farber, most recently the editor in chief of CNET-owned ZDNet, is taking over. In his new role, Dan will oversee the editorial content and user experience for CNET Reviews, CNET Download, and CNET News. Dan has posted a brief note about his new position on his ZDNet blog, Between The Lines.

[From CNET Changes Quarterbacks: Dan Farber Takes Over As Editor In Chief]

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Dilbert on Experience

If you look at the great achievements in history, they are usually accomplished by younger people. Those people continue to acquire relevant experience throughout their careers but their successes do not continue at the same rate. For anything important, experience probably has a strong negative correlation with success. If that weren’t true, all the hit songs, hot startups, and new inventions would be coming from geezers. [From The Dilbert Blog: Experience]

It’s a good point, but one that discounts serial entrepreneurship.

LiveWriter Envy

I don’t have any experience with LiveWriter but I trust Dennis’ judgement on these matters and I have yet to hear someone speak ill of LiveWriter. It is somewhat surprising that there is a dearth of innovation in blogging tools, just a lot of incrementalism. If Microsoft included a version of LiveWriter in MacOffice, well that $300 upgrade would be a lot more appealing.

More by accident than design I’m back using Windows LiveWriter. I got here via the need to upgrade my Nokia N95 firmware the installer for which only runs on Windows. As a Mac user that meant installing Parallels and then XP. I cannot for the life of me get Vista to run in Parallels, despite having 2GB physical memory.

Running LiveWriter on a Mac may seem heresy in the eyes of some but a necessity nonetheless. ecto, my preferred blog writer is too long in the tooth and doesn’t give me the WYSIWYG control I need. The new version is not that much better and I’m not a fan of MarsEdit which seems to have gone into development hybernation. The online WordPress default editor is functional but temperamental, although it does have some nifty plug-ins like All-in-one SEO.

LiveWriter has come on in leaps and bounds since I last tried it with 79 plug-in additions in the portfolio, most of which are useful to different users. The Digg plug-in is a washout. It doesn’t work or at least causes errors when I try to use it.