Archive for February, 2009

Seth Godin: Is marketing evil?

February 24, 2009 11:21 pm

This is more of a tweet than anything, but since Seth Godin only seems to allow trackbacks, I need to comment on my own blog in regards to his post Is marketing evil? It’s not about marketing. It’s about advertising. Advertisers use psychological tricks to market stuff. Watch the PBS program The Presuaders if you have any doubts about this. Advertisers have an unfair advantage over the masses. Average people don’t realize they’re being manipulated by ads, especially TV ads. That’s why it should be imperative to teach media literacy in schools. People need to be equipped to see through the tricks so that they can judge any “marketing” message that may be obscured by the manipulation in the ad.

The global Pool of Money

February 23, 2009 12:02 am

If you haven’t heard the two NPR stories on the current economic crisis yet, it’s worth going out to listen at The Giant Pool of Money and Another Frightening Show About the Economy (or read through the two transcripts). After listening to the first one, I was inspired to try to illustrate the whole thing and sketched this down in about 45 minutes or so:


Part of the meltdown was the ARM mortgage reset:


At the beginning, the income covers the payment. At the reset, the payment becomes bigger (unfortunately), the income is the same and doesn’t cover the payment. Because of higher home value, a loan can be taken out to cover the gap in payment. Over time that loan becomes pure debt. When there is no more of the loan left, the only way out is selling the house. At that point, the value of the house has dropped and is below the amount of the mortgage. In addition there’s now another pile of debt to pay off. The result: great Pain.

I’ve since then learned that someone did a much better job of visualizing the story, using animation and wonderful design. That someone is Jonathan Jarvis, and the illustration is at Worth seeing.

The one thing that I don’t think anybody is shining a light on, however, is this part of my own drawing:


If indeed the whole thing starts with the Global Pool of Money doubling in about six years, and that money was “looking” for a safe return of three to five percent, then isn’t the crisis just as much to blame on what caused the doubling of the Pool? According to the NPR show transcript (PDF)

How’s the world get twice as much money to invest?  Lots of
things happened, but the main headline is all sorts of poor countries became kind of
rich making TVs and selling us oil: China, India, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia. Made a lot
of money and banked it. China, for example, has over a trillion dollars in its central
bank, and there are office buildings in Beijing filled with math geniuses-real math
geniuses-looking for a place to invest it.  And the world was not ready for all this
money. There’s twice as much money looking for investments, but there are not
twice as many good investments.

The keywords here are “making TVs and selling us oil”. TVs of course stand for everything that no longer is made in the U.S.: toys, computers, radios, cars, you name it. So not only did the “highly inventive” American banking system contribute to the collapse, regular consumers actually kicked the whole thing off, in a way, with an enormous appetite for cheap consumer goods. Food for thought, I would say.

I’d like NPR to do a story on that doubling of the global Pool of Money. Would go right with my little bent for “voluntary simplicity”, which I haven’t really written about in a long time. If we all weren’t chasing the dream of bigger – faster – more, maybe we wouldn’t be hurting so much right now. Maybe we’ll learn about the value of “enough”. Check out the links in the sidebar for plenty of reading on the subject of “enough” and “voluntary simplicity”. It’s something I struggle with every day.

A few extra details on the HP TouchSmart 2.5 software update

February 14, 2009 9:10 pm

The HP TouchSmart “shell” version 2.5 is now posted at the HP Support site. It lists only one enhancement, the resolution of a 1618 installer error. But there are plenty of other things in there. For one, this version of the shell (2.5) is part of the Spring 2009 update mentioned at It is the version that comes preinstalled on IQ52x and IQ82x TouchSmart PCs.

I thought I would give a few more details on this update, mostly for developers and other technically minded people.

  • The shell is now DPI/screen resolution independent, in other words it should display correctly no matter what DPI and resolution the computer uses.
  • Memory usage has been reduced by eliminating two previously needed processes.
  • The minimize command line argument now also minimizes a hosted application in large layout.
  • In Personalize, an option is now available to pick a background image.

This version reports itself as 2.5.3238.28760 and as version 2.5.312 in Add/Remove Programs.