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Monday, February 27, 2006

funding our prison education system

and by prison education system, i’m not talking about educating convicted criminals. i’m talking about locking up our children.

ars technica has a short piece, here.

$370, 000 from the united states department of justice to install biometric access control in an elementary school in new jersey.

ars compares that to hiring someone to sit at the door… i’m going to go a bit deeper. the function of a school is education, so let’s go that direction.

according to this report [pdf], the average teacher salary in new jersey was $53,663 for the 2003-2004 school year. so that’s 6.89 teachers for the cost of a front door for a school (and i don’t know if that even includes the door…).

posted by roj at 1:58 pm  

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

drama in the theater?

i can’t take any credit for this one, but it’s a brilliant idea…

Read it here first: The Multiplex Under Siege [the big picture, barry ritholtz]

Here’s my gift to the theater owners: Before each movie, stage some guerilla theater. Roll a fake preview clip, and then 30 seconds into it, have an audience plant cell phone ring LOUDLY in the theater. Stop the clip, partially raise the house lights, and then put a spotlight on the offender. Have two ushers confront the guy out — he’s wearing makeup and a corny outfit (i.e, zoot suit), so it looks real campy — but have the goons drag him out, kicking and screaming. It should be both theatrical and real looking.

People would talk about this for months.

and i know just the right kind of people to do it….

when you’re ready, mr. multiplex, have your people call my people.

posted by roj at 1:26 pm  

Sunday, August 7, 2005

a modest proposal: cyclical olympics

once upon a time, the olympics were about sport. now the olmypics are about money, and that’s a problem, because talent is distributed more equitably than money.

the short version: break up the olympic games into multiple events with multiple hosts, and distribute the economics and attention to countries that otherwise can’t even hope to participate.

the long version:

i’ve seen estimates that with all the post-9/11 security fear built into the package, the 2004 Athens games cost something on the order of US$10 billion dollars (or more). i also watched, occasionally, the bid process for the 2012 London bid. that bid includes £5 billion and £13 billion in infrastructure, plus operating costs.

a billion here and there, and suddenly, it’s real money. and one of the problems i see with this ever-escalating cost-of-production for the ever-more-extravagant olympic games is that fewer and fewer countries can afford to even play in that league. looking at a list of nations arranged by gdp, and picking an arbitrary threshhold that no country can afford to spend more than 10% of their GDP on something like the olympic games (which i think is pretty generous), and an arbitrary cost-of-production of US$15 billion, that means only 36 nations qualify to host an olympic games by that [again, completely arbitrary] measure. looking at 2016 winter bids, the field is even thinner – just eight. then there’s the impact of geography. some sports require specific natural (as in not-man-made) infrastructure – for example, sailing requires… water. enough water to… sail on. skiing requires mountains. so that eliminates a number countries from the olympic bidding as well, just because they are land-locked or flat.

no problem, you might think. 8 bidders for one show is plenty to pick from… but, i’m thinking the olympics are about sports.

so here’s my proposal. multiple hosts over the four-year olympic cycle. break the games up by the sort of infrastructure they require, and let smaller countries capture some of that attention. bidding is closed for the 2014 winter olympics, so let’s start with the 2016 summer games.

using the current list of sports (which changes – softball getting dropped a such) we have 28 categories for the summer games and 7 for the winter games. the infrastructure requirements vary considerably. baseball, football – these are stadium-sized venues. gymnastics, judo, taekwondo, weightlifting, wrestling – these are arena-sized venues. aquatics requires pools. sailing requires oceans (or big lakes, i guess). skiing requires mountains.

what i’m proposing is that the games be split up into manageable chunks, grouped by common infrastructure, and that those groups be held periodically during the 2-year cycle for each of the games. you’d end up with something vaguely like this:

summer sports opening ceremony with football, pentathalon, triathalon and hockey (host country #1, august, 2016)
baseball and softball (host country #2, october, 2016 – yes, bring it back)
archery and shooting (host country #3, january, 2017)
aquatics (host country #4, april 2017)
badminton, basketball, handball, table tennis, tennis and volleyball (host country #5, july 2017)
cycling and equestrian (host country #6, october 2017)
boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo and wrestling (host country #7, january 2018)
canoe/kayak, rowing and sailing (host country #8, april 2018)
and bring it home with
athletics, gymnastics, weightlifting and closing ceremony (host country #9, july 2018)

winter sports opening ceremony and hockey (host country #10, august, 2018 – yes, this means the southern hemisphere has an advantage)
biathalon (host country #11, january 2019)
skiing (host country #12, june 2019)
bobsleigh and luge (host country #13, december 2019)
curling (host country #14, may 2019)
and bring it home with skating (host country #15, july 2020)

obviously, this means that some “groups” (i.e., archery and shooting) require signficantly less expensive infrastructure than others (i.e., aquatics). and that means that some small, otherwise forgotten, country can step up and reach for a bit of olympic glory. i’d love to see even minimal coverage of a global-class sporting event brought to us via our 500-channel satellites and internet from haiti.

in addition to spreading the wealth (as it were – there is some debate on the economic return from hosting the olympics) and attention (i think more important) for the olympic games, this also allows expansion of both the number of participants and the types of sports. right now, participation in some sports is limited specifically because it takes too long to squeeze enough games into the “olympic period” of just a couple weeks. under this proposal, that’s just not a constraint. and there’s no reason someone can’t propose hosting the olympic yo-yo competition someday…

we can still have the grand-scale ceremonies and events, and should, but i don’t think there’s any reason not to give some nation in africa a decent chance to host something that fits in their national economy – even if it’s “just curling” or “just archery.”

it’s supposed to be global sport. make it global sport.

this is a modest proposal only in that it will completely upset a multi-billion-dollar institution and rock it to its core, and annoy many individuals and industries in the process.

this half-baked proposal brought to you by the business model of the hour. you may now shoot it full of holes (at 25 meters).

posted by roj at 8:12 am  

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

crime scene tech support

it’s been a long time since i’ve been inspired by a “business model of the hour” – but i got one today after reading this story at reuters.

it’s not really a notable story, and i’m not sure why it’s on a wire service… a 17-year-old thief leaves pictures of himself at the scene of the crime and gets busted.

we all know the long history of “stupid criminal” stories, but this one inspires me to consider offering a crime scene tech support service. i may not be able to help you with all the finer details of being a smart criminal, but with a team of 24/7 geeks-on-call, i can at least remind you that once you start taking pictures at the scene of the crime, you don’t want to leave them there.

that’s probably too simple… (a real geek would walk you through the “format card” menu)… but i still think a lot of stupid criminal issues these days could be solved with an on-call tech support service.

posted by roj at 8:07 am  

Sunday, May 1, 2005


if you’re cool, you’ll figure out what this means someday

update: just feeding the “vicious cycle of lies.”

posted by roj at 6:51 am  

Thursday, February 10, 2005

the rojisan ipod killer

ever afraid to approach a problem from a different perspective, and with the consumer electronics show behind us, it’s time to announce the latest vaporware from the people that love you at (me).

if you’ve been paying especially close attention to this space, you may recall that i’m a big fan of the pitracer, and that’s the approach that i’m taking with my ipod killer. i also grew up in the 80’s music saturation, with a keen interest in the coolest audio widgets, which often came from b&o. i couldn’t afford the really good stuff, but i still had a pretty swanky walkman with neat-o features (cassette form-factor radio module).

so, without further ado, it’s time to reveal the specifications for the podtracer. or rojpod. or zentracer. erm. i’ll get back to you on that once marketing has done some focus groups. anyway, whatever i’m gonna call it, i know what it’s going to include.

the rojpod is about music. keep that in mind.

first, mp3 is out. ogg is out. wma is out. compressing music is bad for music. so the rojpod only plays uncompressed music. not just uncompressed music, but up-converted uncompressed music. using a completely original d/a path, the rojpod won’t play anything that doesn’t have enough bits. i think 512KHz should do (11.6 times cd quality), and nothing less than 128 bits per sample (8 times cd quality). i’ll go ahead and do that math for you – it’s a 65536Kbps and nearly 100 times better than a cd. of course, that also means that your standard cd will only hold about .74 minutes of music.

second, convergence is out. sure, you can get your mp3 player in a phone, or in a video camera, or bolt on a photo display or video player or all of the above and then some, but that’s not about music, and, as you’ll recall, the rojpod is about music. it only plays music.

third, moving parts are out. solid-state redundant storage is the way of the rojpod. with the new format, the typical 4 minute song is going to take about 3.5 gigabytes of storage. double that to catch any errors (redundant), and the 20 gig rojpod holds 2.9 songs.

fourth, it’s going to come with a bone-conduction sub transducer and real headphones (no earbud for the rojpod, please). it’ll be a big headband arrangement that has great earpieces with a thumper on the back that sits at the base of your skull.

so, there you have it. the rojpod ipod killer. shouldn’t cost much more than $10 grand or so – retail. but for you…. $9500.

and don’t give me any trouble about the limited playing time. pick a couple songs you really like and listen to them until you don’t like them anymore. radio’s been doing that to you for years now.

posted by roj at 4:47 am  

Thursday, January 13, 2005

meds bears

it’s been a while since i’ve shared a business model with my loyal readers, but i am inspired by the vermont teddy bear company which will only be competing for a limited time.

Strait-Jacketed Teddy Bear Brings Protests [ap via abc news, january 12, 2005]

The Vermont Teddy Bear Co. said Wednesday it would continue selling its strait-jacketed “Crazy for You Bear” through Valentine’s Day, despite protests from mental health advocates.

The company said it would discontinue the bear, but not before Feb. 14.

yeah, ok… so some people will be offended. some people can’t handle the cute. but if you’re worried about “a tasteless use of marketing that stigmatizes persons with mental illness,” just you wait until i come out with the whole line of psych-med drug bears. of course, to avoid lawsuits from the pharmaceutical companies (unless, of course, they’re interested in being sponsors….), i’ll probably have to go with generic names (and avoid prozac), so allow me to introduce:

fluoxetine-bear, pimozide-bear, risperidone-bear, clozapine-bear, fluphenazine-bear, haloperidol-bear, loxapine-bear…

… and we’re just getting started. plenty of other psychoactive meds already on the market, and even more in the pipeline.

each one, of course, will come with a pill bottle, some evidence of mental issues (now safely under-control) and common side-effects of their particular prescription. for example, the obsessive-compulsive disorder bears might include no fur below the elbows, and vomiting and flatulence sound (adverse reactions of fluoxetine hydrochloride).

the vermont people went at this market all wrong. nobody sees straighjackets anymore (ok, well, not many), but we’ve got millions of medicated people – even children – among us all the time. this isn’t a dig at mental disorders, of course, it’s something for the kids to relate to. “see? fluoxetine bear has a grumbly tummy just like yours… now take your meds.”

posted by roj at 2:26 am  

Monday, November 29, 2004

zombie bloggers alive!

just a little self-appreciation here… from metafilter i saw this…

Marqui Product Placement in Blogs [ november 24, 2004]

On Monday, a squad of around 15 independent bloggers will begin inserting mentions of Marqui’s hosted communications management services into their blogs for money.

The bloggers will get $800 a month to mention Marqui with a link once a week in their blogs and post its emblem on a page. They’ll get an additional $50 per qualified sales lead they send to Marqui.

“We hit on the idea of [connecting with] heavily read, influential bloggers who create public discussion groups and get feedback,” said Stephen King, Marqui CEO. “But there are no mechanisms for them to make money. So we came up with idea of paying them.”

yeah… we hit on that idea too.

“we will match your product to one or more of our well-respected and popular bloggers, who will sing its praises, kiss your… whatever, and create buzz in the highly-networked universe of the bloggers.”

posted by roj at 12:58 am  

Monday, August 2, 2004

caffeinated pizza

it’s been a long time since i gave you a business model of the hour, and this isn’t a new one, but i was just reminded (yo, musus), so i thought i’d share…

this mostly applies to college campuses and places where the internet boom is going to “happen again” “real soon now”….

caffeinated pizza.

thank you. that is all.

posted by roj at 1:28 am  

Sunday, July 4, 2004

the war on terror memorial

to coordinate with the laying of the cornerstone for the freedom tower on the site of the world trade center, the meta-roj blog announces a design contest for the war on terror memorial.

we have a great tradition of war memorials in america, and i want to get a jump on this one. you have a big legacy – the new world war 2 memorial, the vietnam wall, and thousands of others, both grand and subtle.

i love creative people, so let’s get on this. i don’t want to impose too many restrictions, but i do appreciate the value of boundaries. so, let’s make these designs that can be built in physical space, and, in memorial tradition, something that will last (no virtual memorials, no projectors and such). the contest is open to everyone. just drop a link to your design proposal in the comments.

posted by roj at 11:47 am  
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