Sunday, August 28, 2011
The murders of two women this month, both strangled in East Jefferson motel rooms, and the non-fatal choking of a third woman in a Harvey motel, highlight how prostitution has evolved from the days of walking the streets to using the Internet to set up meetings. But one aspect of the trade hasn't changed.
..In the town of Natick, Massachusetts, on Rte 27, between Rtes 9 & 135, there sits an Army facility. Founded in 1949, it would become responsible for changes in what you wear, how you eat, and how you protect yourself from the elements...
Chances are your closet, and your pantry, are stocked with items originally designed and/or tested for military use by the Natick Labs.
Remember the 70s, and the popular snorkel parkas? We used to buy them from Army-Navy stores, but they became so popular a fashion (as the Navy Pea Coat, before them) that stores started selling knock off copies. They came from the Natick Labs.
Go to any supermarket. Among the shelves of prepared food items and ready to serve meals, you'll find sealed plastic dishes containing a full serving for one. Don't have to refrigerate until it's opened, has a shelf life of about five years. That's what the technology behind the MRE has provided for you.
This fall, if you go to the sporting goods store, or to a ski shop, and look for polypropylene long underwear, or artificial fiber fleece jackets and vests, then you're looking for clothing designed around the ECWCS clothing for the military.
Troubled by wet weather? It used to be you'd wear oil skins of leather or canvas that were coated by paraffin in a petroleum solution. Then came laminated rubber cloth 'slickers'. After that, silicon treated nylons offered some protection, before the coating wore down. Then came Gore Tex, with it's laminated layers of porous fabric that breathed air and water vapor, but because of the surface tension of water droplets, kept you dry.
Malden Mills designed microfleece Polartec as a replacement for the earlier polypropylene fleeces that pilled easily and ran when snagged...
Enjoy hiking and camping? Do you remember when the backpacks available were nothing more than pocketed rucksacks, mounted on aluminum frames? The new ergonomic, body conforming styles are due to research done at the Natick Labs. As are the flexible water containers, the plastic buckles that click shut...
Down sleeping bags have been around for a long time. But, to mimic the qualities of down feathers with artificial fibers, providing washability and quick drying? That's the Natick Labs.
If a product wasn't originally developed by the Environmental Labs, it was still tested by them for durability, applicability, comfort and potential risk of detection by UV or Infra Red light.
So much of what we now wear and eat are the product of their research, that one could put the US Army Soldier Systems Center along side fashion houses like Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, or companies like Kraft & Hormel Foods in terms of impact on civilization...
...So, here's my story (and I'm sticking with it): I went to Northeastern University from 1980 to 1984, as part of a 5 year Co-op program studying Chemical Engineering. Because I had scored so highly on my SATs, I thought I'd be a natural for such a career. By 1984, having repeated many classes, and fallen behind in even more, I knew I had been wrong.
In order to avoid paying for my student loans, since I had little prospect of a good paying job, I decided to join the Navy. I had originally intended to join the Navy ROTC program while in college, but there were some difficulties with that. Anyway, the recruiter, having seen my college background, thought I might make a good fit for the Naval Nuclear Power Training program. There was apparently a reward consideration involved for recruiters, if they could get viable candidates. So, I ended up passing the entrance exams, and getting in. By the time I went to Ballston Spa, though, having spent so many years just studying, I was burnt out and failed. There was a short stint of shore duty at New London, Conn. , Master at Arms for a men's restricted barracks, and then I was assigned to the USS Capodanno, FF 1043 as a machinist mate 3rd class... I was given a post in 'E' Division, maintaining the ship's engine.
So, what has all this to do with steam engines? Well, the Knox class frigates were the last ships of that size to have steam power plants. Which meant that they were often too slow for the duties they were intended for. However, they did have one advantage over the jet turbine escorts that would eventually replace them: a steam power plant is incredibly efficient. Burning a kerosine-like fuel, the boilers could generate 2400 psi steam, which is much more pressure than most commercial plants, at about 90% theoretical complete combustion, of which the majority is turned into mechanical work by the multi stage steam turbines. The largest, main steam turbine is the engine, and drives the propeller screw. But, the steam also drives the turbines for electrical generation. And, pressure stepped down by control valves, also provides heating for kitchen appliances, climate control, oil purification, and water desalination.
Every so often, the boilers failed. Usually, the auxiliary diesel engine is supposed to be started, to provide electricity for the fuel oil pumps. But, on the Capodanno, despite maintenance, our diesels always seemed to fail to start. We'd give it about three tries, then do something outside the manual.. as many of the largest and strongest of the crew that could be spared at that moment was herded to the auxiliary engine room, housing the electrical turbines, emergency batteries, and air conditioning equipment. It also housed the fuel oil pumps. We would each take turns hand cranking the fuel oil pump, having to maintain a vigorous, constant specified rate. Neither too fast, nor too slow. If you tired, you'd step back and let the next crewman take over, then go to the back of the line in case you'd be needed again. And the boiler room crew, when the fuel pressure was sufficient to atomize enough fuel in the burners, would light off. I'm not certain, but I believe that this practice was made part of the later manuals of boiler procedures.
After about 2 years on the Capodanno, I was so impressed with the steam turbine's efficiency and versatility, it's superiority in fuel consumption, that I often wondered why such a cycle wasn't used for more forms of transportation. You hardly saw commercial ships using such power plants. And couldn't it be adapted to, say, trains? It's not as if the steam plant isn't being used today, after all. Electrical power plants use a similar system, and the nuclear power plants merely replaced the boilers and fuel with a reactor core and pressurized water coolant heat exchange system.
Even so, the Navy no longer favors the old systems. They don't last forever and a day without refueling like a Nuclear power plant, nor are as fast or stealthy as the jet turbine craft being built today. I often hope to tour a museum ship, and inspect the engine rooms, to catch a last glimpse of the reliable, steady workhorse.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Comment 8 inShare91 It’s Official: The Internet is the Greatest Deregulatory Success Story of All Time
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
*Sigh*... Everything old is new again.
Well, yeah... But I think I'll start with this, instead:
..were the inspirations for Barbara Walters interviews, as well as all the VH1 shows that follow around celebrities...
Then, there's the classic PBS programming of shows like "This Old House", "The Victory Garden, "The New Yankee Workshop", & "The French Chef" that paved the way for Martha Stewart, the Food network and the DIY network...
So, what's so different today? The National Enquirer being out performed by TMZ and The Smoking Gun. Professional paparazzi being joined by just about anyone with a camera... More outlets for more cheaply produced programs about subjects bound to get an audience.
A&E used to mean "Arts & Entertainment" &, with Bravo, would show performances of Ballet, Stage, and Opera.. But it's cheaper to show "Real Wives of..." or "Intervention". The History Channel used to tell stories about history, but moved that to their premiere channel, History International, and instead air "Swamp People", "Pawn Stars" or "Ice Road Truckers" on basic cable, calling it "history made every day"....
Rudy, Susan Hawk, Puck, The Situation, & Snookie..these names are famous because we like the sideshow at the carnival as much as the main attractions..
Forget your car keys? Soon it won’t make a difference, as long as you have your laptop. An interesting viral Web video (see below) making the rounds since the Black Hat cybersecurity conference earlier this month depicts two researchers from iSEC Partners (a San Francisco-based security firm) breaking into a 1998 Subaru Outback via their PC. In less than 60 seconds, they wirelessly find the car’s security system module, bypass it and start the engine remotely.
One of the more remarkable things about having a blog, is that a blog is a soap box for the blogger to express his/her distaste for any bugaboo that annoys at the moment...
Today, I want to speak about the Sundance Channel's Love/Lust. It has been slacking off..
Okay, it was doing well when reporting on the history of fashion, though I still regret that the episode on the history of the bikini covered Bridgitte Bardot, but not Ursula Andress..
Now, tell me this moment of cinema didn't help popularize the bikini!
How can Love/Lust discuss the paranormal if it doesn't discuss Anton LeVey and the Church of Satan? How LeVey re-conceived Satan as a Prometheus figure? Again, where's Crowley? And where's Charles Fort and the Fortean Times? Would there have been A Kolchak: The Night Stalker, an X-Files or Fringe without Fort?
Why does the episode about sex symbols in history only mention Justin Bieber as a "teen heart throb" without antecedents such as Donny Osmond, Shaun & David Cassidy, or the primogeniture Ricky Nelson? Where's the mention of Tiger Beat as the great force in propelling them to stardom?
Maybe it's wrong of me to expect more from an one hour TV show. But omitting some of the scale and detail of their subject matter bothers me.
(with thanks to the writings of Thomas F. Zahler, who inspired this essay..)
Nice view, huh? Pretty from up here... From here, it's just a blue marble, adrift against the void. From here, there are no details.. No borders, boundaries, no political ideologies or religions to divide us. "Don't sweat the small stuff". From here, it all seems like small stuff....
There's another detail that you can miss from here: There are six billion + people populating the planet. Those details that look small from here, are pretty huge and important to them; "Can I find a job?", "Can I pay my bills?", "Will I be able to afford to give my children an education?", "Can I find food to feed my children today?", "Will I be killed today?", "Will I live to see tomorrow?"
That's the thing about technology. We can see so many new places, change our perspectives. But, will we use to it to learn, to help? Or will we run away from our troubles?
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Back when I was in Grade School (4th or 5th grade, I think..), the teachers would try to encourage our practice of handwriting skills by offering us the chance to make "pen pals" with students from other schools, occasionally with students from other countries. I can't speak for others, as I've heard of cases where lasting friendships had developed by this practice, but I was a rotten letter writer. At that age, I didn't know what was interesting about me, or how to express my interests properly to others.
Things have changed, indeed...
Today, on my Facebook page, I can access people I hardly know, from around the world. And they can seek me out. I communicate regularly with people in the Phillipines, from California, Nevada, Texas, Ireland and France. Though conversations are insignificant in subject, my network is vast. Due to Google +, I have access to the ears of many famous names, and many experts in a multitude of fields. Even before all this, due to group message boards, I found myself in the intellectual company of a diverse lot, with common interests.
In High School, socializing was compartmentalized. There were the stereotypical cliques of "cool kids", "freaks" & "geeks" often dictated by the structure of a single institution that segregated students based upon projected learning performance. "A.P" or advanced placement, the "standard" kids, and the underachievers. From this, if you had common classes and extra-curricular activities, you'd form bonds with students you shared personality traits or common interests. The band kids, the chorus, the computer club, the chess club, school newspaper, A.V. (audio visual or sometimes just photography), school sport teams, even church ... But the number of friends who all shared all your interests was usually pretty small, and your conversation subjects often were limited to the context of which group you participated in at the moment. If you were reading Tolkien, you talked about it with the appropriate crowd, and usually didn't announce your interest to anyone you'd think didn't cared to listen. It was only polite...
Today, with a social network page, it's not uncommon to represent yourself in full, and allow the "friends" to decide if something interests them. A "friend" posts a picture of their children, or posts their thoughts about a recent activity, you may decide to check it to keep up to date on their personal matters. Or you may scroll past because they aren't that kind of "friend' that you concern yourself with. It's only polite to not be too nosy, after all...
What if you decide that you aren't all that interesting? You can post and share that which interests you, make the conversations about those subjects. Post links to videos, share news articles, post images, tell jokes... You're telling your story from a first person perspective, by reporting that which engages you. You take your "followers" along for part of your ride, and they learn about you from the experience. And the "followers" accept or reject which parts of the ride they choose. They interact with the narrative, and get an image of you based upon their own preferences. The persona they perceive is the one of their choosing, not always the whole.
Social networking media has democratized the roles of DJ, producer, reporter, editor, publisher. We are each a multi-media corporation.
Friday, August 19, 2011
— Angus Stevenson, OED editor, on the newest additions to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, many of which come from the tech world...
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit filed against a Missouri school district for filtering what it calls "educational lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender content" has no legal grounds or traction and will likely be thrown out, speculated Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Senior Counsel David Cortman.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
On 2011-08-15 at 17:00; Anonymous will make an appearance at the Civic Center BART Station
Friday, August 12, 2011
...I've been thinking that we haven't exactly explored the most obvious thing about my blog: that it exists. If you consider that, back in 1962, the very concept might seem unreal, you might be mistaken.
What kind of media existed back then? Newspapers, magazines, news letters, radio shows, television... All had some form of opinion based content available to the public. Usually, a popular newspaper or broadcast media personality had a column expressing his or her opinions on news of the day. Johnny Carson's Tonight Show had the monologue segment. By the late sixties, early seventies, TV shows like Laugh In, The Smothers Brothers, Flip Wilson, all had humor based on social events of the day. There have been people like Paul Benzaquin, Jerry Williams, David Brudnoy on the radio. Paul Harvey was nationally syndicated by radio stations.
If you had a mimeograph or your own press (yes, some folks had them..) you could make your own newsletters, limited to printed words and the occasional sketches.
Phil Donohue came along, in the mid seventies, with a syndicated TV talk show that involved the audience in asking the guest questions.
Just about every publication had some form of letters column, allowing readers to ask questions, share stories and opinions. Some newspaper Letter to the Editor contributors might graduate to a local columnist spot, if they were popular enough and their writing was acceptable.
So, what did the Internet do to change all this? The first, obvious thing was to democratize the process. If you post it, it is available for an audience to see, if they want. No third party to decide whether it's good enough or not. In this, it resembles a news letter publication. A vanity press or self published work, if you will...
Another thing to notice is the hyperlink. before, if you wrote an essay or story, and you referred to an existing work by another writer, you had to foot note or end note it with a notation citing the specific source. With the hyperlink, you can refer to a source by providing the url of the on line source, embedded into the word you're referencing... A bit of copy and paste, and you're done!
One other thing to notice about blogs... You can punt! If you're a regular follower of a blog, you may notice that when the writer gets lazy (as I do, often) he or she will simply reblog someone else's work (if it's on topic), or insert a link to an article elsewhere (occasionally accompanied by a short piece of text describing the article and it's relevance, or a copy and pasted preview of the article's first paragraphs). In this case, the blogger is only taking credit for finding the article, and recognizing why it may be important. It's branding the article in terms of relevance, not plagiarism. With the post, the blogger is telling the audience; "this is something you should know". Which is, essentially what a blog is all about, isn't it?
Which brings us to motivation- why do we blog? Is sharing information that we think people should know all there is to it? Yes, and no... For some, it's about attention. Not necessarily a narcissistic type of attention, but a statement of: "I am here, and this is what I think". A statement that declares one's existence and seeks acknowledgement. For others, it really is all about the content, and discontentment with what goes on around them. Educating the audience in what to think about, what questions they should ask. Sharing the concepts that matter to them.
And then, there's tribalism. A blogger shares to gather company. Talk about an interest, and hopefully those who share that interest will respond. And a small community forms.
...And this article now comes down to me. This is who I am, how I think. I'm sharing with you so that you know that I am here. I'm sharing with you, hoping to teach you something you may need to know. I'm sharing, hoping to be friends...
Thursday, August 11, 2011
The idea of the future of news is often met with fear and uncertainty. But that’s nonsense. The future of news is going to be awesome!
Perhaps the trepidation is because the people who deliver today’s news — journalists and publishers — are the ones who could be the most displaced by the change. Most of today’s news organizations — newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television networks, etc. — will look drastically different in a decade or so. Many will disappear, and only the resourceful will thrive.
But for the consumer and for society, that is a necessary step toward improvement. As technology continues to evolve, and as new business models emerge, information gathering and distribution will become better than ever.
Thank you for taking this time to receive my message. I understand that you, and your staff, are quite occupied with many major events. first, the Murdoch scandals, and now recovery after the spate of riots that ravaged your country's cities.
Never the less, sir, i am quite alarmed when I hear of your support of emergency powers to allow authorities to shut down social networking. It is understandable, considering how much the media has related about the organizing of rioters via text messaging. But, I ask you, have there been any reports of the use of text messaging to communicate among the survivors, among those who sought to avoid the regions of attacks? Has the media investigated to see if messaging had alerted people to take precautions?
Here is my point of view: a text message is not like a phone message. While I might leave a voice mail message for a loved one, I can broad cast a text message to a group of friends. I can post a "have you seen my loved one?" message, and have my personal contacts interact to not only keep an eye out, but report what is happening, and suggest rendevous points away from endangered locations.
Let us also consider: Group texts provide a means of communication with the perpetrators. Authorities can reach into the rioting crowds, and alert them to the consequences of their actions, allow authorities access to intelligence as to what is happening, where. And many of the perpetrators will share information (as they undoubtedly have, in this case) that will lead to arrests. Shutting down their text communications will have a minimal effect on quieting the rioters, and a maximum effect on losing vital intelligence.
Perhaps, if a method can be invented, the authorities will be able to sort out and isolate only some of the communicants, those who are most responsible for the violence. This method might allow others to communicate freely, and be sousveillance of the scene for authorities before they arrive. Such a system would also provide transparency to the authorities actions, which is increasingly becoming a valuable commodity.
I am not a citizen of the U.K., but I am a global citizen, sir. We of the rest of the world are watching you, and judging your decisions. No matter your choice, many will not approve. In my humble opinion, though, and considering the events of this previous spring in North Africa and the Middle East, the best decision is the one that affords freedom and volitional action for all, that prevents the actions of a minority from overwhelming the rest. Empower each man, and you gain their trust and loyalty. Thse who act against you will be acting against the whole.
I hope you consider this.
Chester Edwin Mosher
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
By: Chris Matyszczyk
"The more Facebook seems to dominate the world, the closer it seems to be to its end.
Earlier this year, there was dastardly nonsense being peddled that Facebook would shut down March 15. However, now we have news of an apparently credible threat.
It comes from Anonymous, the interesting group of people who express their principles in an activist way by infiltrating the systems of the unsuspecting or the merely complacent.
The Village Voice has pointed me to an Anonymous press release that states quite unequivocally that Facebook is going to get it on November 5.
Should that date not be dear to you, it is the day when British people let off fireworks to commemorate Guy Fawkes, a man who felt the passionate need to detonate Britain's Houses of Parliament.
- We've explored how recording media became a tool of artists, and how Art theory was changed by the advances in recording technology. Now, let us discuss how this effected our concept of reporting reality....-
Sound recordings up to 1932 had been made either by wax disc, or magnetizied steel wire. In Germany, 1935, a revolution would take place, with the AEG Magnetophon and the BASF cellophane tape. At first, this method did not seem promising in terms of sound fidelity. Then, an interesting thing happened. The original model Magnetophons were designed with a DC bias. In 1940, the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschraft radio network put Walter Weber to work on improving the recorder. He discovered that using an AC current, with inaudible high frequencies resulting from the bias, made the recordings perfect.
Meanwhile, Kenzo Nagai of Japan, and Marvin Camras of America would also discover the superiority of AC bias magnetic recording. Yet, World War II prevented the development from being commercialized. It wasn't until August of 1944, when a Major Jack Mullins of the Army Signal corps. was sent to Paris to investigate Nazi technology, that the Magnetophon and BASF tape was discovered by the Allies. And then, they had only found the DC Bias machines. A year later, Mullins was investigating rumors of a high frequency radio weapon that might have been afflicting Allied bombers by cutting out their engines. Instead, he found the modified Magnetophons.
Under the terms of surrender to the Allies, the patents to the Magnetophon were forfeit. Mullins managed to bring back some of the modified AC units, and began a manufacturing company to duplicate the German system.
Now, it may surprise some people that Bing Crosby was once the hippest man alive. Sure, we know him as a crooner, and that ladies loved his voice. But, the guy in the sweater, with the pipe, trading jokes with Bob Hope and singing "White Christmas" every year? Well.... yeah. Bing would set the template for Sinatra, Presley and male pop singers that followed. He hung out with the likes of Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington, possibly smoked some dope, became a film star. And he was immensely popular on radio. But, radio broadcasts were live. Crosby didn't like being tied to a weekly commitment. So, he asked that his shows be recorded. On disc. Unfortunately, the discs were too troublesome and lacked sound quality. His shows ratings declined. And then, someone called Jack Mullins...
By this time, Mullins was experimenting with editing magnetic tape in the fashion of editing motion picture film. Mullins would be able to omit "dead spaces" between performances, add laughter to jokes that failed on the audience, shape the recording to make it seem better than the actual performance. At this point, Mullins was still working with the salvaged German Magnetophons. But, Crosby was making a deal with the fledgling Ampex corporation, who duplicated the Magnetophon, for equipment in exchange for advertizing. Unfortunately, the start up seemed too unreliable for ABC, Crosby's network. It took Crosby personally investing $50, 000 in Ampex to get the party started..
With the Ampex machines becoming an industry standard, one eventually made it 's way into the hands of Les Paul (a gift from Crosby. See? I told you he was hip..). Les Paul is famous for his virtuoso skills as a guitarist. He was also well known for his skills as a gadgeteer. While he didn't invent the pick up, amp or electric guitar, his skills created the unique Gibson Les Paul model. And Paul worked for the Armed Forces Radio during the war, learning the art of editing disc recordings. He had already developed a method of "dubbing' sound from one recording to another, using phonographs. This allowed Paul to accompany himself. But now, he had a new plaything to experiment with... Soon, Les Paul had devised a multi-track recording method. And this would create a bit of a problem for Paul's live performances; there was no way you could duplicate the exact sound from his records without playing recordings as accompaniment...
(I want to give thanks to Greg Milner's excellent Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music as the source of much of the information about the development of sound recording technology.)
The Website Review Magazine TheWebsiteReviewMagazine@groups.msn.com
Commentary : From member Kirby: Want to start a website cheap?
From: LtcmdrKirby (Original Message) Sent: 10/12/2003 7:46 AM
The types of websites vary from flashy displays of the latest graphic designers to simple black&white text. While you may aspire to creating fun, image laden pages, or merely want a place to express your particular interests, it's not hard getting your feet wet. But it can be costly if you aren't careful....
Certain items can make it easier;
* A good scanner. It doesn't have to be the latest model, but should be of good quality resolution. This will allow you to obtain images from many sources, as well as copy text from magazines and books (but be careful about copyright!).
* A good camera. This will give you the ability to capture images yourself. Notice that I didn't specify "digital" camera. That's because film developers now will often transfer prints to disc for you. A good work horse of a 35mm camera will suffice...
* A graphics editing program thats easy to use. You want to crop photos and images, and change formats so a JPEG can be a GIF when necessary.
* A documents editor program specifically for scanners. This allows you to copy text from printed matter, correct any errors, and transfer it to a format you intend to use. Doing this allows you to save time from having to type in any material you wish to quote. If you want to put say, a poem by Tennyson or a stanza from the bible, you now can do so without typing out the full text. Of course, the editing process can also be tedious..
Now the question is; How do you go about building the website? There are books about the subject available in bookstore and the library. I recommend going to the library first, finding the books that seem easiest for you to follow, then buying a copy of the particular ones. You will often need to look up some detail. Magazines also appear on the newstands that will help you. I would reccomend SmartComputing Learning series Web Tools.
Also available now are CD sets that take you through the procedures and instruct you on HTML, as well as provide instruction for WhatYouSeeIsWhatYouGet (WYSIWYG) programs.
You can, of course, use the 'cookie-cutter' programs provided by your Server. Geocities , MSN, Delphi, et. al. provide ready-to-go formats that you fill with the content. But you are stuck with the look they provide you. Your ability to change graphic displays will be limited.
Getting started in HTML is difficult at first, and may require constant referrals to a list of "tags" to remember how to do specific things. A program that will allow you do make referals on the keyboard might help.
If you'd prefer to skip some of the HTML (be sure you get familiar with it anyway... you never know when it's needed!) you can obtain WYSIWYG programs. Frontpage and Dreamweaver are the most popular. But both can be fairly expensive. Instead of the latest edition, see if you can get a previous one. Web surfing will turn up sites that sell old programs for less than the price of the newest. Bargain outlet stores sell off old software. And don't forget Flea markets, Library sales, and yardsales! Someone's upgrade may provide you with an opportunity...
You can also get copies of software 'trials' from magazines and books. Check the Library for manuals on certain programs, and see if it comes with a demonstartion CD, and check the stands for magazines with free CD trial versions of software. The trial version will usually only last about 1 to 3 months, but will provide you with a good start on a website...
Other Webpage Building packages may give you some WYSIWYG style controls, but also require you to be familiar with HTML to operate. There's nothing wrong with that. It's often the challenges that the software makes for you that teaches you the most about what you can do. Don't pass one up, just because it's more primative than you'd prefer...
All-in-all, the most fun comes from connecting with an audience. The process that it takes to launch your website won't necessarily be pretty, but it will be worthwhile.
The following transcript is based upon an actual event....
"Bonnie" is a woman in her mid-thirties, living with a male partner in a condominium unit. There are 183 units, broken up into 13 separate clusters of structures of indeterminate number. Each cluster of condos shares a common CBU or "cluster box" for mail delivery. Each CBU has a separate slot or box designated for each condo unit.
Sometime, late last spring, Bonnie's mail box began to fill. She or her partner was failing to empty the box on a regular basis. As the CBUs are secured by locks, it is not an uncommon habit of residents to only empty the box on a weekly, or even bi-weekly schedule. Some residents even forgo notifying the USPS of hold requests, assuming the mail will be safe during their absences. Thus, the mail carrier did not become alarmed until the volume of mail began to interfere with delivery.
Bonnie's unit is on the ground floor, with windows that can be observed from the outside. There was no visual evidence that the condo unit had been vacated. Finally, the regular mail carrier noticed a grocery bag left on the kitchen counter, indicating that someone might be present at that time, and decided to try and find out what was going on...
(Door bell is rung. Bonnie answers the door..)
- (letter carrier) "Ma'am? May I ask you a few questions? You aren't picking up your mail, and I wondered if something was wrong..."
- (Bonnie) "Oh, that! I don't want it. Is there any way you can just throw it away?"
- (letter carrier) "No Ma'am, I'm not allowed to do that.. You'd have to speak to the Post Office about stopping delivery..But, can I ask why you don't want it? Isn't there anything important you might be missing by ignoring it?"
- (Bonnie) "Not that I can think of..."
- (letter carrier) "What about bills? Wouldn't you miss paying your rental dues, utilities?"
- (Bonnie) "Oh, no! I pay those online.."
- (letter carrier) " By credit card, or electronic transfer? You might also be paying interest on your bills if you pay by card. And I can't see paying for a credit card with the same card... And if by transfer, do you know if the bank charges additional fees for electronic transactions? They might be more than the cost of postage.."
- (Bonnie) "It's by transfer. I don't know about fees, but I don't mind.."
- (letter carrier) "What about legal notices? The town government, and probably the Condominium management is often obliged to notify you by certified mail of any important construction or work being done. That way, they receive a signed receipt proving you were notified. If the first attempt to contact you fails, the notice of the attempt is left in your mail box, and all subsequent attempts will also be notice slips left in your box."
- (Bonnie) "Well, you could just leave them in the door, couldn't you?"
- (letter carrier) "That's not our procedure, and you'd have to make a request of the Post Master to change it... Getting back to your bill payments, don't you think it might seem odd to, say your insurance company, if you're making electronic payments but your mailed bills start coming back marked 'Unable to forward, address unknown'?"
- (Bonnie) "Well, I could explain by phone.."
- (letter carrier) "Then there's insured packages sent by mail order companies and relatives.. The packages that are left in the CBU parcel lockers,which require a key to access, and the key is left in your box... Parcels aren't always left by the door, where they can be stolen.."
The thing is, "Bonnie" isn't alone. More and more people are finding the Postal Service at best unnecessary, at worst a nuisance. People often fail to complete forwarding notices, or fill out the fields inaccurately. They complete a forward order listing the family name, but forget to complete a separate one for the wife's maiden name, or believe it will also automatically be forwarded. Some unmarried couples sharing a residence assume that putting both names on the same forward order will assure mail for both of them will be forwarded.
Worse, some folks consider the Postal Service in the same way they do any other utility. That is to say, not at all. It's assumed that it's the USPS that must keep track of them. I call this the "Magic Smurf" theory: all Postal workers are magic smurfs that do everything for you... There are occasions where people have asked carriers to throw out all third class advertising mail for them. First; third class mail currently makes up three quarters of all USPS revenues. Second; Even third class postage implies the contract is with the sender and the Postal Service for delivery, not with the receiver. The carrier is obliged to deliver the mail, irregardless, unless that particular piece is refused by the recipient. Third; it's not the Postal Service's duty to dispose of your trash. That's not in the contract. Fourth; would you really want a third party to decide what mail you should receive, and what mail you won't? That's granting power of censorship...
Now, compare this to e-mail: you have spam filters to weed out unsolicited messages, you have permanent address that travels with you wherever you go, and can access from anywhere. You don't have to memorize and write out addresses, they're either available from an address file, or by hyperlink. You have no bulk rates based upon size of the message. No physical thing to store or throw out. No postage.
Someone ought to do a comparison study about carbon footprints between e-mail and "snail mail". Typically, regular mail is an energy intensive process. It involves the harvesting and processing of wood pulp into paper. The manufacture of the envelopes, stamps, ink. The mechanical sorting and distribution of the letters and the bulk shipments by truck, or airplane, of the mail.
On the other hand, e-mail requires a computer (fixed cost) that requires an electrical power source that runs 24/7 (continuous cost), a network of modems (rented, continuous cost) and cables (fixed cost) to connect to servers (fixed cost) that also requires 24/7 electrical power. All this means a lot of mining, oil drilling, and hazardous waste disposal. And while sending an e-mail might be free, you're still paying for the broadband or dial up connections.
Still, the difference in preference between the two tends to be the divide between those who use computers and those who don't: Age, education and economic class. We may see this divide change with time, as those recalcitrant elderly "age out" (to put it nicely) ,economic opportunities increase for the lower incomes, and education becomes more computer-centric in schools. Yet it also may be necessary to continue the USPS as a physical back up system, in order to provide connection to those unable to utilize computers.