mamamusings: February 27, 2005

elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Sunday, 27 February 2005

delta blues

It’s getting easier and easier to see why major airlines are getting their butts kicked by companies like JetBlue and Southwest.

I’m sitting in the Rochester airport, where Gerald and the boys dropped me at 12:30—with plenty of time to catch my 1:55 flight to Atlanta. The Delta line was extremely, worrisomely long—long enough that I wondered if they’d had to cancel a flight since I left the house (I’d checked online). But the prominently placed display screens showed my flight with an on-time departure, so I patiently waited my turn. And waited. And waited. Because they kept calling Cincinnati passengers up to the front of the line—guess being there on time doesn’t pay.

When I finally did get to the desk agent, he informed me that my flight had, indeed, been cancelled due to weather. But they were “having problems with their computers,” which is why there was no public indication of that fact (which would have saved me the 45 minute wait in line, since I could have called Delta on my cell phone and made alternate arrangements).

The next flight out isn’t until 5:45pm, and it’s not fair to Gerald and the boys for me to ask them to come get me again and go through the goodbyes once more. So I’ve settled myself into the Frontier Business Center at the airport, in a passably comfortable chair, with free wifi and power. I’ve got a giant latté from Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters, and enough work (and neglected blogs) to keep me busy for a while.

This trip kicks off a busy month; I’ll be in Atlanta for the NVHA Innovations conference on Social Network Media (with some other great folks). I get back on the 2nd, then leave on the 5th for Dubai, where I’ll be speaking at the 7th Woibex Women in Business Conference. I return from Dubai on the 10th, and then leave again on the 12th for SXSW/Interactive, where I’ll be moderating a panel entitled “Spam, Trolls, Stalkers: The Pandora’s Box of Community” with panel members Jay Allen, Cam Barrett, Jason Kottke, and Steve Champeon.

The plus side of all of this for, you my online friends, is that I’ll be online and available to write and chat a whole lot more than usual. Expect to see me on AIM a good bit, and for blog posting to increase a bit.

Posted at 1:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
more like this: conferences | curmudgeonly | travel

marqui: software as service concept (sponsored post)

I’ve been lax in my Marqui blog-for-pay work lately, so today and tomorrow will be a one-two combo to get me up to date on posts, and bring me to end of my contract. (Haven’t decided yet if I’ll renew if given the option; several people I admire have expressed concerns about the mixing of editorial and advertising content, and I found Jason Kottke’s recent post particularly compelling.)

That being said, I’ve been thinking about the “software as service” concept that Marqui is pushing with their CMS, and I find it somewhat intriguing. The basic idea is that your source content, and your finished output (HTML pages, Word documnts, PDFs, etc) live on your own your servers. It’s just the processing of your input that’s handled by Marqui’s server. (Think of it a bit like having Blogger publish your site to your own server, rather than their servers—you provide the input, they process it and output it to your site.)

This is true of proprietary software, too, of course. If I create a project using Macromedia Flash or Director, I can output it and run it anywhere, but I can only edit it if I have the software. The difference here, however, is that once I’ve bought (licensed) the software, I can use it again at any time—with “software as service,” once I stop paying I lose my ability to use the software.

Marqui’s not the only place offering software as a service—some of my students have recently started using Basecamp for project management. For some reason, though, Basecamp feels less…well…scary to commit to.

Marqui really needs to work on its web site. When you get there, it’s not at all clear what they’re trying to sell you. Compare that to Basecamp’s site. Clear, direct, easy to understand what they’re offering. A free mode that lets you use the system for simple tasks. That would make me feel a lot more comfortable recommending to people that they give the system a shot. As it is, it doesn’t feel clear or approachable—the site and the concept remain too opaque for most people to respond to.

Posted at 2:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
more like this: sponsored

video game store lament

I took my older son to a local game store (HO/RC) yesterday that specializes in used game systems and games, and lets you trade in old systems. He had a GameCube that he no longer wanted, and three games that we don’t play—Super Mario Sunshine for GameCube, and Gran Turismo 3 and GTA Vice City for PS2.

They had a PS2 with a missing drive cover (perfectly functional) for $100, but only gave us $25 credit for the GC and games. When I challenged it, the owner was extraordinarily rude to me, suggesting that I drive around and find out all the places that would rip me off more, and then come back so he could rip me off for less. We had a few more exchanges like that, all of which involved him being extremely rude and dismissive towards me (after all, I’m just the stupid rich mom, right?).

What I should have done at that point was march out the door with our stuff in hand, bought a new slimline PS2 at Sam’s (with 2 games included) for $150, and sold the rest on eBay. But I was tired, and stressed about my slew of upcoming trips, and he so wanted to get it right there and then (I’d been promising this for a while). So I went against my good instincts and did the transaction. It left me with a very sour taste in my mouth, though, and you can bet I won’t be back in that store again—nor will I encourage anyone else to go there.

When I searched for HO/RC just now, I discovered that they’re also a prolific eBay vendor—but with a reasonable number of negative and neutral reviews, which doesn’t surprise me at all. I’d be careful doing business with them, if I were you. That attitude towards customers is a very bad sign.

Sometimes I think that what I ought to do is open up the ultimate gaming spot geared towards parents as well as their kids. There’s not much out there that targets tweens, really. The hands-on museums are for the younger set. The game stores and arcades are more for the teenagers (and the parents hate being there). So why not create a place that tweens will love, and that their parents won’t mind taking them? Model it on places like Chuck-E-Cheese, with food and drink available, and places to sit. Put in a coffee bar and free wifi so that parents are willing to hang out while their kids wander around and/or play. Set it up like CEC, so that kids can’t leave without the adult who brought them—that lets the parents relax, possibly in a separate glass-walled area so their kids can be seen but not heard. Hire teenagers to work there, and have them wandering around, available to talk to/encourage the tweens who are the real target. Sell card games and video games and computer games, and provide space for kids to play—for a price. (Maybe a monthly fee…)

I’m not much of an entrepreneur, but I bet something like this would do really well. There’s a huge market out there that’s pretty much untapped for this age group and their parents. Give us gamer moms somewhere to go that doesn’t leave them feeling the way I did when I walked out of HO/RC. Please.

Posted at 2:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (1)
more like this: Rochester | big ideas | kids

home again, home again...

So much for my travel plans today. The later flight was delayed, and I finally had them rebook me for an early morning flight and went back home. The boys were happy to see me, at least. And I got to play a little Katamari. Now I’m off to bed, since I’ll be up at 4am to try again. :/

Posted at 10:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
more like this: travel
Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna