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The Borovkoff Blog

Neo-Pagan Modern Thoughts On Society

Category Archives: Electronics & Technology

Netflix was one of those rare companies that provided a valuable service at a low cost to thousands of people. Streaming video coupled with DVD by mail in an instantaneous manner contributed to an instant success. Stock soared. Word of mouth spread. Subscribers signed on to the Netflix service. Even as the world economy plummeted to all time lows all around, Netflix was still raking in profits and looking like a guaranteed succes in the manner of Apple.

Then Netflix’s CEO made a huge error. An error in judgement based on his own pride and greed. He increased the subscription fees and reduced the services rendered. Huge mistake!

The old adage “Don’t fix something that ain’t broke” applys to this Netflix folly. In an economy that prides itself on instability, frugality and the demise of the modern day company, Netflix had committed a huge blunder. But what made it worse is that later, after they started feeling their boat lighten as thousands of subscribers jumped ship to find better options, the power hungry Netflix CEO sent out a mass email stating that he felt the change was “good” for the company and was the “right direction” for Netflix. Wow. Sad. And he got to be CEO how?

Not only did Netflix make a huge mistake initially by increasing their customers costs and reducing their services but then they waited a really long time to send out a silly “half apology” that let everyone know that they were going to stick to their guns and that the customer was not always right. In fact, Netflix said “the customer is blatently WRONG”. Netflix disrespected their customer base.

Now Netflix is paying a deep price and is officially in serious trouble. Their stock has plummeted to ridiculous lows as their customers are continuing to jump ship. While the previous jumpers have already found ulterior methods of getting video services either streaming or by mail. Unfortunately for Netflix, even if they chose to redact their previous statements and positions, the damage has been done and the competition has stolen their customer base. Their job would be much harder to win back their evacuated loyalists.

And we wonder why corporate America is failing? With CEO’s like Netflix’s own, who needs enemies?

 

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Image of Steve Jobs with Apple logo behind.There are rare people that impact the world. They come and go so quickly sometimes. We wish they stayed awhile longer. But they leave their legacy and move on to a higher plane of existence, or maybe they come back in another life to try and teach us again. Steve Jobs was one of those rare people.

The last day and a half I have walked around like in a dream. We all knew he was struggling with his health, but I think we were all hoping he would win the fight in the end and prove everyone wrong. But instead we are left with broken hearts and a deep hole in our universe. He left so much to us. He gave so much to us. He changed our world forever. He reinvented Apple and desktop computing. He created a world of tablet and mobile computing and communication that has never been before him. He was innovation. He was creation. He was strength. He was a wonderful soul in this world.

Like so many others lamenting this loss, I didn’t know him personally, but for some reason I feel like I lost one of my closest family members or friends. Few leaders have that effect on me. Very few people even do. I do not feel that the world is as great a place minus this miracle maker. How many more innovations would Steve have come up with? How many advancements for people with disabilities to stay even with the rest of the world? How many wonderful venues for artists to show off their wares?

If all leaders could be like Steve, our country and probably our entire world’s economy would be golden and reaping benefits more wonderful than we can imagine.

If all people could be like Steve, there would most likely be no war, no poverty no predjudice.

If all followers could be like Steve, we would have more free thinkers. And we would not be afraid to think for ourselves.

Life is suffering. We battle attachment and try to overcome it in order to overcome suffering. Let’s all learn a lesson from this wonderful soul and strive to be just an iota like Steve.

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I took the plunge on Sunday and bought a new 2011 Toyota Prius IV. I received a great deal from Elk Grove Toyota that I just could not pass up. So time to trade in my truck and join the Prius Eco-Hippie crowd!

My new Red Prius Originally I wanted a model III that was gold. But the dealer gave me such a good deal on a red model IV that I was tempted and fell for the red. I have not had a red car since my Mazda Miata, and received no speeding tickets or accidents in that car, so I figured I would put the old wives tales of red cars attracting bad luck on the back burners and going for it.

So after a week of driving and reading and watching videos on how to drive this thing, I can only tell you that I love it! This is the most fun car to drive that I have ever owned. And it seems to be teaching me how to be a better driver and how to be more ecological in my gas usage.

The IV that I got comes pretty well equipped, with great sounds system including 8 speakers with a 4 disc CD changer that is capable of playing MP3s and WMAs, leather seats, front heated seats (like I will need that in Sacramento!), voice activated everything, plus navigation system and a great moonroof! Everything that I originally wanted plus more! For less than my Toyota Tacoma! Plus saving gas, it is pretty much a win win situation for me this round.

So the Prius basically monitors your driving habits and challenges you to get the best MPGs you can get. Its a challenge that makes driving into a game. Fun, fun, fun!

But I couldn’t get my gas mileage above 27 mpgs. No matter what mode I drove in or how I altered my driving habits. That is UNTIL I ran into this wonderful video that teaches a fundamental lesson to all Prius owners: The wonder and intelligence of scientific momentum and pulse driving. If you have a Prius or are thinking of getting a Prius and have not seen this video then I highly recommend it:

After watching the video and practicing a little today I got 75 mpg! Huge improvement with a little practice and knowledge about how the car WANTS to drive. Also, understanding the idea of gliding and coasting. Seriously before this I always thought that you should keep your gas pedal depressed while moving forward all the time. I was clueless! Lesson learned and rewards to be heaped!

Besides driving I think this car was made for the iPhone. Its an Apple type car. It works seamlessly with my iPhone and plays music right from my iPhone with a minimum of fuss. Technology in a car plus gas and money savings!

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The market is up. The market is down. The market is up and again…its down. The signs of a failing economy have been around us for a very long time now. Walk down your neighborhood street and count the number of houses for sale, in foreclosure and for rent. Its staggaring. Not to mention the pathetic numbers of unemployed in the great US of A. Scary things are happening. People continue with their normal day-to-day activities hoping that soon, very soon, the economy will turn around. But the economy is never going to turn around when we have some serious work to do and nobody seems to be paying much attention to the type of work needed. Here is a list of things that need to happen before our economy will rebound to anything close to what is has been in the last century:

  1. Over seas jobs MUST return to the US homeland. (see #2 below)
  2. Corporations bogged down by regulations and frivilous law suits must be set free from their ever restricting restrictions. At least a little. They must be enticed to keep their work force in the US without fear of severe penalties. There is a reason they went over seas for their cheap labor in the first place. We must eliminate that temptation.
  3. Banks must stop getting bailed out, and instead that money needs to be invested into education and the technology front. We have fallen way behind in our education and technology innovation as a whole nation. We are only as smart as our next generation and those are scary thoughts!
  4. We must begin to buy American wherever and whenever we can. And American corporations need to begin to find pride in workmanship so that we are not so scared to buy cheap American product!
  5. Rents must plummet! Landlords based with greedy intentions need to recognize that it is better to have a renter than an empty home. Tax loss limits must be re-reviewed so that they do not encourage greed in landowners.
  6. Banks need to speed up review of failing loans and re-calculate their ideal of debt to wealth ration when setting loan limits.
  7. Credit card companies must be monitored closely. We should not allow them to rape the average American with astronomical interest rates and debt creating penalties.
  8. Companies need to learn to share their wealth with their employees and distribute that wealth equally. This creates a drive for employees to do more and strive harder to achieve a company’s own success.
  9. We should not patronize auto-checkout stands at supermarkets. Why would an employer want to hire 5 clerks when 1 employee can monitor four auto-checkstands?
  10. Government leaders/politicians need to feel the strike of the economy just as bad as the average citizen. Wages need to be cut substantially for representatives nationwide. They have no clue how bad it really is if they can’t feel it while they are vacationing on their yacht paid with your taxes!

There are countless more that we need to all be watching for and we all need to contribute to the health of this country, prior to a revolution, when the base layers rise up and take it back by force. We are nearly there now.

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Man entering door filled with light

Funny but it seems like everyone jumped head first into Facebook. Even without realizing what they were jumping into. Kind of like jumping into a pool with no water huh? All kinds of people and agencies joined the Facebook plague: singles, married, cheaters, married seeking divorce, lonely seeking friends, non-profits, only for profits, dog lovers, cat lovers, kid lovers, hobbyists of all types, political and non-political parties, and countless others built their personalized Facebook pages and started collecting friends. The wave build and even the film industry surfed on its rapidly rising wave by creating a feebly bad film about fighting brats and out of control sex addicts. So it must be the future right? It must be here to last right?

It appears that wave has crashed.

Facebook is a single use, badly designed, limited environment. It pandered to the socially indept, sucked the social elite to its clutches, enticed the dollar seekers, connected the unconnected, promised the world and delivered……nothing.

Facebook games have proven themselves to be so limited in game play value that if you have played one Facebook game you have pretty much played ALL of them. Graphics and original ideas coupled with pathetically hurried design had contributed to a giant black hole of gamelessness.

Facebook friends are…. well….not really real friends at all.

Facebook apps are sad. They are single use, limited and one dimensional, take no where apps. Basically, not apps at all. Facebook even dilly dallied on its own real App (cut away to scene from “Pretty Woman” in high dead=end boutique with Julie Roberts famous line: “Big Mistake. HUGE mistake.”)

And the overall Facebook UI is hideously ugly. Not accessible. Not user friendly. Seriously badly designed, apparently by a bunch of drunken, money hungry monkeys. A whole lot of blue in a world of options. Adobe Flash based? Really?

So why is Google trying to get in on the action? Google is trying to release its own Facebook look-a-like called Google+. hmmmm the name is almost as original as the design. Basically Google+ is just a copy and paste, with a few add-on graphical events, of Facebook itself. So Google must know something right? They must see the future right? Well, actually, in case you have not been paying really good attention lately, Google has been playing CATCH-UP for the last few years. Google has not had an original idea of its own since, well, Google. That was a long time ago! So it is not surprising that Google is finally seeing value in Facebook, about 3 years too late. Let me guess….Google has to send its ideas through a voting committee before they get adopted right? And the committee has been reviewing social media for the last 3 years right? ummm, those days of making decisions via committee will get you nothing in a speeding techno world.

Yes, social media was fun. Seen it. Done it. Been there. Myspace, Facebook, Google+, dinosaurs. NEXT!

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A Modern Work CubicleIn years gone by, a secretary was a secretary, a technician was a technician, administrative support was administrative support. Everyone had a job. One job. If they did it well, they moved up and took on more jobs. People went to school to enter particular professions and make a fine living. Your skills were directly linked to the type of work that you were seeking, and your skills were usually narrow and fine tuned to a specific need. Has this system changed?

Yes, the system of one basic duty per employee has gone bye bye. The failing economy has contributed to employers seeking the employee who can do everything. Its not a bad thing. It actually is the saving grace behind our economic failing. The depressed economy has forced us all to fine tune mutli-skilling. Yes, that’s the new term “multi-skilling” or “multi-skillers”.

Let’s take me for instance. My current job consists of handling multiple budgets (accounting), long term budget projections, materials translations projects (project management), materials printing projects (pre-press),  writing/editing, purchasing, request for proposal processes, page layout, graphic design, web page maintenance, communications, telephone, vendor negotiations, Microsoft Office expert, troubleshooting hardware and software, business analysis, problem solving, accessibility factors, document formatting. technology advancements, HTML coding, CSS coding, presentation, training, diversity planning, grant reporting, database management, meeting planning, and more… And I have to stay on top of all of these and keep growing daily with each one.

Yes, I am a product of the failing American economy. And it has deeply enriched my skill sets. Now when I look at job postings on craigslist.or (or anywhere for that matter) I realize, just like the song from “A Chorus Line” says, “I can do that!”

So next time you hear a fellow employee say, “They want me to do everything. That’s not part of my job description!” in a whiny, complaining, bitter voice, just remind yourself of the opportunity to learn and grow there and how sad that your fellow employee doesn’t get it.

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Image of a cover from an old comic book.The age of electronic books is upon us now. There is no going back, there is only three categories to fit into: early adopters, later adopters and oppositional non-adopters. The latter are the people who refuse anything new.

Rather than focus on the people who either adopt or fight against this new type of technology, I would rather focus on a clear benefit to this technology.

Comic books have been around for a very long time. Some of my earliest memories include Sunday morning drives from the sleepy town of Orinda, CA to the equally sleepy town of Rheem, CA, with my dad. My dad made this a normal part of our Sunday morning activity so that he could by particularly hard to find business gazettes and newspapers at a small store in Rheem. I loved those Sunday morning rides with my dad. One of the reasons that I loved them so much was that it meant I would get to buy some comic books. My dad usually allotted me $1.00 to spend on comics, because he thought it was a silly thing to buy, and back in those days $1.00 was a helluva lot of money. And I was the type of kid that figure out a way to stretch out that dollar and make sure I got the maximum amount of comics for its value. I always walked away with a bag full in the end.

So comic books hold a special memory for me. They speak of the time in my life where I was innocent, and life was innocent. And they bring foggy memories of drives with my dad back to me, almost to the point of tears sometimes.

I kept most of those comic books. They have traveled with me through life, through lovers and friends, through jobs and homes. They have been a constant. Probably the only constant that I was guaranteed in my life. Everything else seemed to fall away with time. But my comic books stayed by my side wherever I was living and whatever I was doing. They may have been stashed away in a box in a dark closet, but I always knew that they were there. And every now and then, I would add a new one or two to my collection, needless to say that the price increased substantially so that a dollar would not buy me even a single book.

We all have memories of our childhood. Some good and some bad. But we all want to preserve parts of it for our later years and perhaps our descendants life times.  Digital comics and digital comic readers help us do that, and they are quite good.

Comic books are now scanned into zipped archives with the extensions .cbr or .cbz. You can look up the process on the web and get hundreds of instructional web pages that will take you step by step through the process. In these highly compressed files, our entire comic book collections are preserved. Each page as an individual, vividly colorful image. Then we can download multiple free Apps for our PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad or even the rare sought after iPad 2, that will enable us to read those files in sequential order, just like we are reading the actual book. We can even include those goofy Sea Monkey ads if we want! You get to choose!

We don’t have to crack open the actual hard copy book, risking hurting the pages, or smearing fragile ink. We can have our digital comic books available to us always, with our other wonderful digital reading materials. We can tote our entire collections around with us and read at our own pleasure. And reading pleasure it is! I am starting to re-read many of my older comics, and I find myself drifting away while I am reading. Drifting away to the body of a little boy, peering out of a fast moving vehicle zig zagging its way through windy suburban streets to a destination filled with comic book racks that spin around on wire frames, while my dad peruses through the business section of the magazine rack and chides me to “Hurry up, Adam. We don’t have all our life.”

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