Category Archives: Economics

Economics: Currently it is f—ed, thank you Wall Street and all of its MBA members

You’re a Feature, not a Product

myapps1

Not a Business, but a Feature

Sideshow Apps for Mobile

One of the biggest growing segments of the tech sector is Mobile & Web App Development. Ever since FaceBook became the behemoth that it is today, thousands of entrepreneurs have begun coding & developing the next multi-million or billion dollar app. I read popular tech blogs such as TechCrunch, PandoDaily, Mashable, and so on, and everyday you can see a report on which new app developer got some seed funding or investments, or you’d see which analyst placed a valuation on a app, and so on. And for awhile, I would say that the funding was for legitimate businesses: e-commerce apps like Gilt.com, FourSquare, Evernote, and the like. It made sense to me because these apps have that thing called a ‘Business Model’.

Enter Snapchat & Poke.

I read on a tech blog article that SnapChat is valued at about $50 Million dollars. Pause. Think about that for a second. A messaging app that self destructs messages after a few seconds of viewing is worth millions of dollars – and this is a ‘business’. Welcome to the wide world of ‘features’ being ‘businesses’.

FaceBook initially wanted to buy SnapChat, but reports indicate that they wanted to hold out for a higher buyout, in which FaceBook said ‘F— That; we can clone you and make you a feature app in our OS called FaceBook!’. And that is how FaceBook’s ‘Poke’ was born – in a matter of few days. FaceBook is essentially a communication experience, and in some regards a sophisticated web OS (not to be confused with webOS), and they realized that apps such as SnapChat, Instagram, to name a few, are features that can be integrated into a larger system. The late great Steve Jobs said it best when he had plans to acquire DropBox for its cloud solution for Mac OS/iOS, and DropBox played ‘hard to get’. At the time Steve Jobs said DropBox was a ‘Feature’ not a ‘Product’. And many of these app developers with their nonsense apps I hope realize that they don’t really have a product, but are working hard to sell/integrate their feature app into a larger system.

.:: LiBM ::.

Whom should pay for dates? Men or Women?

who should pay

Is Chivalry Dead?

So you were able to persuade the girl of your dreams in going on a date with you, perfect. Things are going well, you give her your magic charm, she is smiling & laughing (hopefully not at you), the food is good, and you end up paying, and you take her home. Good Stuff. But the cycle of you paying for the meal after the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and to the 10th date, starts to leave you wondering, “When is she going to pay for the date?”. And this is the question that is the fuel for debate, and equally the source of arguments as some women, regardless of how long they have been dating their Man, refuse to pay for dates. Chivalry is not dead, is it? Yes, Men should do certain things, but we also live in an age of equality – with the rise of Feminism, women desire & want to be treated as equal, as they should be. But in some facets of life, they still want the Man to ‘take care’ of certain things such as dates – even if they are in a long-term committed relationship or even married.

A lot has been said also on whom initiates the date – meaning that if the Man asks the Woman out, then the Man should pay – I can understand that. But after awhile, once a mutual understanding is established, and once both parties are interested in each other, then that is when things such as dates should start being shared, right? This video illustrates the differing views between males & females on whom should pay for date – hilarity ensues as most women will stick to their guns that women should NEVER pay for dates, and where Men are always trying to walk that fine line of ‘wishing/hoping’ that women eventually start sharing or paying their ‘fair share’.

______
Starring Comedians:
Sylvana: @sylvanasays
Justin Laite: facebook.com/justin.laite
Produced by Urban Comedy Network

.:: LiBM ::.

Sky Service Airlines – Bad, really bad

Sky ‘service’, but ‘service’ is missing

Note: The great thing about this thing called the Internet is that it gives a voice to people for complaining and airing grievances. My grievance is with this joke of an Airline called Sky Service

I have flown on quite a few airlines from Air Canada, Delta, United, West Jet, etc.  Generally, they are all decent, I never had any real problems – that was until I encountered Sky Service Airlines (http://www.skyserviceairlines.com/).  They are a discount airline that I had the unfortunate experience of flying with recently.  I am not a fat or a tall guy, but I found the seating to be very cramped; combine that with a malfunctioning seat that couldn’t recline, being double booked, being relocated to the back of the plane near the washrooms, and then being offered cheap ass alcohol as compensation for my inconvenience …. I was well dissatisfied.  I was embarrassed, uncomfortable, and annoyed that they had ruined my flight on multiple fronts.

So I wrote an appropriate letter to their Customer Relations department, they said that it will take a minimum of SIX weeks to get back to me; either they have limited customer service staff or they receive a lot of complaints.   I may not be a public figure as Kevin Smith (yet), but I know how to cause a ‘stir’ … so the ball is in Sky Service airlines court – how this game is played is up to them.  In my eyes, the only way to resolve this situation is to refund my ticket, what do you all think?

Does anyone else out there have any airline horror stories????

Share ….

Cheap vs Frugal, pt 2

Cheap vs Frugal, pt 2

Examples of the difference

This post expands on the battle between being cheap and frugal – as many of my friends, colleagues have attested that I am cheap. They are categorically wrong. To be cheap means to consciously decide products/services of inferior quality. To be frugal means to be careful in the usage of one’s resources. As to not rehash the first post (click here), I have thought of clear distinguishing examples that will help those that are wrongfully accused of being cheap, when they are actually frugal:

Bringing Outside food/beverages into the Movie Theatres

-Now this is just being smart, $5 for a bag of popcorn?!? $3 for a bag of candy?!? Bringing in your own treats from the dollar store does not only save you money, but is being a smart consumer.

Buying No Name Brands vs Brand Names

– In some cases the difference is minimal, and if you can’t distinguish the difference, then it makes no sense to spend an extra few cents to a dollar just to have a ‘name brand'; specifically I am referring to grocery items. However, if you do have a general disdain and find the products of no name products to lack a certain taste/quality than a brand name – then sure, go ahead and go for the name brand. But choosing an equally comparative brand is not cheap, it is being frugal.

Event Parking

– I live in Toronto, where they like to charge enormous amounts of money for parking in the downtown core – many big cities have a similar and worse situation. So what is walking a few blocks to your event if it is going to save you money in the long run? That $15 flat rate parking is only a cost for easy convenience; while the $5 parking lot down the street or the free parking (a few more blocks away) will make you do something that you should already be doing – exercise! Get your ‘walk on’ and save a few bucks, be frugal, don’t waste your money.

Be Frugal NOT Cheap! Like moi!

.:: LiBM ::.

Buy yourself a Personality: MacBook

Associative Qualities of the Mac Culture

Buy Yourself a Personality: MacBook

In my little opinion, Macbooks are not much superior to Windows and/or Linux based computing systems. The price of a Macbook can range anywhere from the $1300-$2500 and they are only optimized for their performance in memory intensive usages such as audio recording/editing and video rendering. If you are even doing Photoshop image manipulations, and you are not working with RAW files, then you do not necessarily need a MacBook. If you are reading this, and don’t even know what Final Cut, Compressor, Avid, Motion 4, Pro Tools, then you are one of those people that I like to call ‘Buying a personality’.

Cool & Trendy Factor
There is some statistic that states that out of the Personal Computing market, Apple has like less than 5% of the market share; so having a MacBook will automatically make you stand out from the pack; combine with Apple’s sleek and stylish design, people will gravitate and ask you asinine questions about your MacBook. Which essentially forces the individual to become a ‘Mac Ambassador'; someone that can give advice and their opinion about their Mac experience – and resoundingly enough it will bend toward the positive. Thus, when people become the Mac Ambassador they are embracing and becoming one with the ‘Mac Culture'; which can be defined as a free-spirited, creative, liberal, defying convention, eager individual – whom values his/her individuality from conformity (conformity being Windows culture). Those qualities will then be expressed in their clothing and swag; which is perfectly captured in the popular ‘”I’m a Mac, he’s a PC” ads.

Now, this isn’t ‘Mac resentment’ or ‘hate'; the Apple OS is a unique user experience that in my opinion is slightly better than Windows, but the cost differential is not worth it if you plan on using iMovie or iLife, or watching video on YouTube. You have to give Apple some props though, they have done a creative maeouver in giving the perception that when you buy a MacBook – which is essentially a plethora of computer parts made by other manufacturers (just like Windows machines) – you are not only being a computer, but you are buying a lifestyle. And that ‘lifestyle’ is priceless.

.:: LiBM ::.

Cheap vs Frugal

Cheap vs Frugal

Key Differences between the two, but often confused

A lot of my friends think that I am ‘cheap’, when I define myself as ‘cost-effecient'; I look for deals, before making purchaes I do my research & analysis of the pros and cons of the item, I aim to not shop impulsively, but only shop out of necessity. I am reluctant to tip at restaurants, I will try to stretch a dollar where applicable, I will avoid paying for parking in downtown Toronto where possible – even if it means walking a couple of extra blocks. So this is a clear distinction to all those lames that say we are ‘cheap’ when we are actually ‘cost-efficient’ (frugal), it is best to have us around so we can advise you out of debt, chumps!

Cheap
A miser or cheapskate is a person who is reluctant to spend money, sometimes to the point of forgoing even basic comforts. The term derives from the Latin miser, meaning “poor” or “wretched,” comparable to the modern word “miserable”.  Here are some interesting cheap people from the past:

Joseph Nollekens – Londoner generally considered to be the finest British sculptor of the late 18th century, he was also a notorious miser.

Charles Huffman was a miser from the 1950s in the U.S. He was found dead on a Brooklyn, New York street with no money in his pockets. The police traced him to a $7 per week room that was filled with bank books and more than $500,000 in stock certificates. He was characterized by Franz Lidz, in The New York Times, on October 26, 2003.

Frugal

Frugality is the practice of acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal.

Common strategies of frugality include the reduction of waste, curbing costly habits, suppressing instant gratification by means of fiscal self-restraint, seeking efficiency, avoiding traps, defying expensive social norms, embracing cost-free options, using barter, and staying well-informed about local circumstances and both market and product/service realities.

You may be frugal if you evaluate the following on a potential purchase:
Unit pricing ($ per pound, ounce or item)
Convenience
Shelf life (ability to store it)
Life expectancy
Versatility (does it have multiple uses?)
Functionality (is it as useful as they claim?)
Cost of maintenance
Cost and availability of replacement parts
Durability
Warranty or service plan
Taste
Strength
Quality of construction or assembly
Appearance
Safety risks
- There are other great tips of Frugality at:
http://www.frugal-living-freedom.com/frugal.html

Now, I am sure there are some cheapskates out there, and to be ‘cheap’ would subscribe one to some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder that would perpetually create a cycle of desires to horde money and stretch a dollar to nth degree. A reluctance to spend doesn’t define ‘cheap'; it merely shows that one is responsible and careful with their allotment of money so that they get the most value out of their hard earned money. Even when I am sitting in those lofty hills in the villa, deciding which of my many hybrida or diesel cars I will drive … I will still not tip the waiter!

.:: LiBM ::.

Sources:
http://www.frugal-living-freedom.com/frugal.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frugality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheap

Cheap E-Way

Cheap E-Way

Ways to save and cut back

Most of this is logical (hopefully), but in a tight economy, there are many ways that people can save their money and cut back.

Write-Off

Register a small business. Do it. Regardless if you have no idea of what product you plan to sell or what service you want to offer. Then, any activity/purchase you do for your business, can be a write-off – transit fare to meet clients, food purchases, clothing, wireless/internet expenses … the possibilities are endless.

 

Shop at a Dollar Store

– they have the everyday household items for $1, body spray deodorant, binders, lotions, drinks – and all the name brands; no ‘Acme’ or generic never-heard of brands

 

Bring your own beverages to work

– let’s do the math; let’s say you bought a Coca-cola beverage everyday at your work cafeteria for $1, 5 times a week. Over a month period, that equates to $20. If you went to the grocery store, and picked up a 12 pack of coca-cola for $5.99, you would save around $.50 per day rather than buying it at the cafeteria.

 

Cloud Computing

– This is working and storing information into the cloud (essentially a server) where you can access the data from any machine; no longer being restricted to a specific computer. Google offers many free cloud services like ‘Google Docs’ (wordprocessing, spreadsheet, powerpoint) and if you need a desktop software suite, Sun Office has a bunch of applications that are compatible with Microsoft and the best thing is that it is FREE.

 

.:: LiBM ::.

Peri-Urban Farming

Urban Farmers

Sustaining urban agriculture

If ‘green’ is the new ‘black’ (don’t know what the new ‘black’ really was), then part of the green initiative that may actually do some real good is the phenomenon known as Urban Farming or Urban agricultures – which is the practice of cultivating, processing and distributing food in, or around (peri-urban), a village, town or city. In North American cities, these practice has picked up steam in the past 10 years as you can go to many dense populated areas to find portioned areas (that have a bit of grass) with all sorts of vegetables and fruits. With some of the following stats compiled by the U.N., it is clear why the practice of urban agriculture is growing:

* 50% of the world’s population lives in cities.
* 800 million people are involved in urban agriculture world-wide and contribute to feeding urban residents.
 * Low income urban dwellers spend between 40% and 60% of their income on food each year.
* By 2015 about 26 cities in the world are expected to have a population of 10 million or more. To feed a city of this size – at least 6000 tonnes of food must be imported each day.

Urban farming is generally practiced for income-earning or food-producing activities though in some communities the main impetus is recreation and relaxation. Urban agriculture contributes to food security and food safety in two ways: first, it increases the amount of food available to people living in cities, and, second, it allows fresh vegetables and fruits and meat products to be made available to urban consumers. A common and efficient form of urban agriculture is the biointensive method. Because urban agriculture promotes energy-saving local food production, urban and peri-urban agriculture are generally seen as sustainable practices.

Cuban Urban Farming

 

Pacific Rim Farming

Chicago Urban Farm

New York City Urban Farming

Not only will you be saving money from shopping for produce, but you will be helping produce oxygen into the air as most of these urban cities are smog infested.  This is a ‘green’ movement that I can ‘see’

 

.:: LiBM ::.

tan(004) – Road closures cause a logical mess with Paypal

Part 4 in the Expression of foolery:

A logical Mess, Road Closures, Paypal fees

A Logical Mess
Its always the worst when your away from work for a couple of days and your work peer comes over to your desk to do your work and completely reorganizes your things. They say that they were just trying to ‘clean up’ your things, but b**ch, the perceived chaos/mess is subjective – and usually items are strategically placed in certain areas for a reason. Its really rude and abrasive to come into another person’s work area and go through their stuff; business and/or personal – usually they do it to snoop, lames. These types of people need to be dealt with; severely and swiftly (you know what I mean).

Road Closures
Driving on the highway especially in the summer is an interesting time as construction narrows lanes, roads are unpaved, and they always have signs indicating that a certain part of the highway will be closed during a certain time between certain intersections. This is a gross logical error, because if you are traveling eastbound, the signs will tell you the closures that affect eastbound traffic only; but, the driver most likely will need to know of any construction occurring on the westbound lanes (as it will be rare that the driver will travel eastbound again after returning westbound). Am I the only one that has noticed this? Does it not make sense to give notice to the most likely course of actions of drivers?

Paypalery
This will be quick and sweet, but isn’t it odd that Paypal is quick to charge you fees for your transactions whether you are buying or selling, but when you need to withdraw some money from paypal it takes 5-8 business days … Just saying …

.:: LiBM ::.

Get your Sue on

Getting our sue on

Some funny legal cases from http://www.re-quest.net/g2g/humor/cases/

We have, and will probably always be in a litigious era where lawyers run rampant trying to sue over every little thing.  This leads to a tie up of our judicial system, which in turns causes taxpayers more money; and now, more than ever, we need to find ways to save money.  Anyhow, enjoy: 

United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff
54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D. Penn. 1971)
A Real Devil of a Litigant. Plaintiff filed suit against Satan and his staff for violation of his civil rights. Among the allegations were: (1) that Satan had on numerous occasions caused him misery and unwarranted threats, all against his will; (2) that Satan had placed deliberate obstacles in his path that caused Plaintiff’s downfall; and (3) that by reason of the foregoing acts, Satan had deprived him of his constitutional rights.
The court noted that, “Even if plaintiff’s complaint reveals a prima facie recital of the infringement of the civil rights of a citizen of the United States, the Court has serious doubts that the complaint reveals a cause of action upon which relief can be granted by the court.”
The court went on about its concerns and further noted, “We question whether plaintiff may obtain personal jurisdiction over the defendant in this judicial district …. the plaintiff has failed to include with his complaint the required form of instructions for the United States Marshal for directions as to service of process.”
Case dismissed as frivolous.

Carter v. United States
530 U.S. 255, 185 F.3d 863 (2000)

Playboy Mystery Writer Unveiled? In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Ginsberg wrote, “The Court’s woodenly literal construction gives rise to practical abnomalies and effectively shrinks the jury’s choices while enlarging the prosecutor’s options.”

Ruth v. Congress of the United States
71 F.R.D. 676 (D. N.J. 1976)
Right to a Speedy Trial? Plaintiff, while a guest in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, filed suit, in pro per, against the U.S. Congress. Among his allegations were the constitutionality of a number of statutes dealing with the salaries, retirement pay, survivors’ benefits, etc., of Judges, U.S. Attorneys, Clerks, Marshals, and others; and that he was unjustly tried and convicted in both Federal and State courts because the charges against him were processed and tried by the court and staff in an extremely rapid manner, failing to consider all issues, due to the fact that the court “was overworked and under paid.”
Case dismissed as frivolous.

Koutsouradis v. Delta Airlines
___ F.4d ___ (11th Cir. 2005)
Batteries Included. A 36 year old married woman filed a lawsuit against Delta Airlines for being publicly humiliated after she boarded a Delta Airlines flight with her husband in Dallas, Texas on a stop over from Las Vegas, Nevada to her home in Clearwater, Florida. After boarding, the woman surprising heard her name being called on the plane’s P.A. system asking her to identfy herself and to please come forward. Alarmed, the woman complied, and was greeted by a Delta security agent who informed her that something in her luggage was vibrating. The woman was escorted off of the plane by the security agent and lead to the tarmack next to the plane where her luggage had been placed. The woman explained to the security agent that the vibrating must be from an adult toy she purchased while in Las Vegas. The security agent, not being satisfied with this representation, made the woman remove the toy from the luggage and hold it up for inspection, in full view of curious passengers looking out the windows of the plane as well as in front of a few Delta ground personnel who, as the complaint alleges, “began laughing hysterically.” The woman was allowed to repack her luggage and return to her seat on the plane. Albeit, a little red faced we’re sure.

Check out http://www.re-quest.net/g2g/humor/cases/ for more funny and dumb cases! 

 

.:: LiBM ::.

tan(003) – Hypocritical Banking Hours during Family Time

The Broken Black Family, Open the banks late, and girly Hypocrisy

Banking Hours
On a trip to NYC in early ’09, I noticed something so amazing and logical – Banking Hours should be complimentary to our working hours. The normal working hours are 9-5 Monday thru Fridays; most banks close at like 4 or 5, or they may open late on a Thursday or Friday to 6 or 8. I have to give TD Canada Trust some credit for having most of their banks open until 8 Monday thru Fridays, and Saturday open till like 3 or 4. But back to the point of this rant, in NYC, they have banks open 7 days a week; apparently and coincidentally, TD Waterhouse is holding it down out there with banks open until late and open on both days of the weekend. And it makes sense, get customers in when they have the most time; if there is a specific transaction that has to be done on a weekday, process as much as you can on the weekend, then finalize it on Monday morning. BMO, RBC, CIBC – get with the program!

Family Time
Sitting in a City Park over the weekend with the girlfriend, and something good and sad at the same time became apparent. The good: there is still a strong sense that when the weather is nice families like to go to the park and bond with each other; whether it is a BBQ, volleyball, or just a walk in the park. The bad: we didn’t see much black families partaking in this; there was an abundance of white, Asian, and Indian families all spending time with each other in an urban city park. Now maybe, I am reading a bit too much into it; and I have a tendency to find correlations between unseemingly unrelated things, but I think that the lack of representation can be likened to the bigger problem of the state of the Black Family. It is known that the Black Family is in a state of repair; trying to mend the cloth that was ripped by slavery as slave masters deliberately broke up members of Black family to demoralize their spirit. And ever since then, the black family, in comparison to other races, do not have the same strong bond as others. The one good thing about Tyler Perry films is that it emphasizes the importance of family – guess they are good for something, lol.

Hypocrisy
Its always a satisfying moment when you catch your girlfriend in her own hypocritical ish. Ahh, its refreshing and invigorating. And when they get caught in it, they get quite like a mouse, and try to make up some rubbish excuse that is unique to their current situation. However, you should be subtle and not take it overboard in your tangent/rip into their hypocrisy, rather take the ‘You-know-that-I-know-that-you-have-just-been-caught-in-your-own-ish’ approach, and save the card for a rainy to day to credit when you trip up!

.:: LiBM ::.