Kindling Catching Fire

A “Fashionable Global UFO” now available at Schnucks

Today was Cyber Monday, another one of those marketing derived unofficial holidays. Today as good citizens we were supposed to while away our work day, not by toiling at our actual tasks, but instead by spending as much time and money as one could, shopping online. This new task is best facilitated on those rare Mondays where the boss happens to show up late. Not I, mind you, because I have elected not to have a computer connected to the Internet on my desk. Most of my colleagues have chosen otherwise, but that is really a subject for another post.

After football, Amazon’s Kindle Fire was all the buzz this morning. Older people, like me, were querying our younger more consumer tech savvy coworkers about neat gifts to get the younger generation. The odds on favorite was the Fire. Today only, Amazon was even offering a $50 coupon. It just so happens that I played with one on Sunday. Never having touched one before, I was asked to help set something up. Is there a computer scientist in the house? The Fire is a tablet and as such has two key advantages over a smart phone. Because it is bigger, the screen is easier to read and the keyboard is easier to use. Neither of these attributes held much sway over me. I am so nearsighted that I can read my iPhone just fine and yesterday after our exhausting bike ride, I was unsteady enough that I couldn’t even type as well on the Fire as I can normally on my iPhone.

Amazon really hyped itself and Cyber Monday last night, with Charlie Rose’s 60 Minutes infomercial. Amazon’s founder announced with this video, Prime Air. This aerial drone based delivery system promises to deliver an order in thirty minutes, just like a pizza. Prime membership already buys free two-day shipping. A USPS partnership will extend deliveries to Sunday and Amazon is already planning on going nationwide with same day delivery. In Seattle I saw Amazon delivery vans everyday, so why not Prime Air? Well, this has been tried before, Google ‘beer delivering drones’ to see what I mean.

In under the radar news, the Supremes apparently dealt Amazon a setback today, when they refused to hear Amazon’s appeal of a lower court’s decision that had upheld New York’s sales tax on Internet orders. This may be the last Cyber Monday that we can shop tax-free. Still, Amazon remains one step ahead of the game. It had already planned a mass expansion of its delivery system to support one or same day deliveries. By putting its bricks and mortar distribution centers in every state it would have been liable to collect taxes anyway. This decision just soils the nest for their competition.

Returning to the subject of my work, I was supposed to have two manufactured parts made and delivered by last Wednesday. As an exercise in misdirection, I switched topics with my boss on Wednesday and staged a big meeting with him and his boss on another subject. We were all off both Thursday and Friday. Today, I learned that the second part that I had ordered wasn’t finished until this morning. I happened to learn this fact less than 30 minutes before my boss showed up. We don’t need no stinkin’ drones. I like and respect my boss. I’ve already told him most of this story. I just like to poke him too. 

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