Monday, January 29, 2007

Apple Could Surpass Microsoft In 2010?

I was amazed to see these revenue projections comparing Apple to Microsoft.

Details here.

4 June 2010: Apple may not have surpassed Microsoft in revenue, but they certainly surpassed them in market capitalization.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

How racist are you?

Harvard Implicit Test
How racist are you at a subconscious level?

The Harvard Implicit Test is a remarkable test which measures you at a subconscious level. No matter how many times you take the test your results won't change much.

1. Clink on the above link.

2. Click on Demonstration Test

3. Go to test

4. Accept Disclaimer

5. Choose "Race IAT" and follow the instructions.

The test only takes a few minutes to complete.

Monday, January 22, 2007

TRS-80 Model I (CLOAD)

Last week, as I was riding into work with a coworker, we were reminiscing about our first experiences with computers. Coincidentally, we both got our start on Radio Shack's TRS-80 Model I in the late 1970's. Back then, there were only a couple notable players in the personal computer world, Apple with it's Apple II, Radio Shack with their Model I and II, and the Commodore PET.

If you've ever worked with the TRS-80 Model I you'll remember commands like CLOAD and SYSTEM to read programs from the tape drive. In its most common configuration, there was no file system or operating system and BASIC was built into ROM (courtesy of Bill Gates). One of Microsoft's first big sales was licensing its BASIC interpreter, for around $50K, to John Roach, the chairman of Tandy, to ship with the TRS-80.

It was pure ecstasy the first time my coworker and I used a BASIC complier on the TRS-80 as our programs executed at seemingly blindingly fast speeds (less than 2 MHz clock cycle). The TRS-80 used Zilog's Z-80 microprocessor - if you've ever programmed it in assembly language, you'll remember that it didn't have multiplication or division in its instruction set so you had to iterate yourself to do that kind of math.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Perception of Money

How do you view money?

Here are a couple vignettes - what would you do?
(These are academic questions so don't add any "real word" conditions to the story.)

Vignette 1
You visit a bookstore to buy a new book which costs $35. While in the bookstore, you find out that the same book is for sale for $15 in another bookstore in the same mall.
Do you go to the other bookstore to buy the book?

Vignette 2
You visit a car dealer at an auto-park (car mall) to buy a new, $30,000, car. Just as you've decided to make the purchase at the current dealer you find out that another dealer, in the same auto-park, has the exact same car for sale for $20 less. (Let's just say the two cars are indistinguishable and haggling, financing, sales commissions, etc., aren't an issue.)
Do you go to the other car dealer to buy the same car?

Most people would answer yes to the first vignette and no to the second. When buying a $30,000 car, what's a $20 difference really mean? In actuality, though, there's no difference between the $20 you save when buying a book and the $20 you save when buying a car since $20 has the same, absolute, buying value.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Macworld Security For iPhone

Anyone who's seen Apple's iPhone on display at the Macworld Expo this week will notice that there are several security guards standing right next to the display to keep people from coming within a foot of the casing. Serious security for a serious product.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Mac OS X Password Reset

Here's something I never knew until my father-in-law's iMac refused to let him log in with his password...

The Mac OS X install disk has a password reset utility for just this occasion.

Simply pop in the install disk and reboot. Hold down the C key on the keyboard when you hear the Macintosh start up gong. This will boot the Mac off the install CD/DVD. Pick the main language you want to use on the first screen and then, on the second screen, choose Utilities —> Reset Password...

Obviously, you don't need to know the old password - just pop in your new password, confirm it, and your done.

If you've enabled FileVault, then you'll need to skip these steps and simply enter the account's master password. If you don't know the master password for your FileVault account then your data is lost forever.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007


Have you ever won a lottery? If you haven't, don't worry, it doesn't mean you're not lucky.

It turns out that luck can be learned – it's based on perception, habits and attitude.

People were surveyed before a lottery asking if they considered themselves lucky or unlucky, and when everyone lost the lottery, the lucky people said, "I'll win next time," but the unlucky people  said, "I shouldn't have played since I never win anything."

The perception of being lucky or unlucky doesn't change the outcome of chance, but it does change people's view of the world such that lucky people tend to be more observant.

I read The Luck Factor, a couple years ago, which detailed studies determining how differently lucky people view the world compared to unlucky people. Here's an explanation of the book.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Show the Highest Price First

Inherently, consumers don't know how much unfamiliar things cost (think about the TV game show The Price is Right). The first price they see will be imprinted on them like a baby duckling to his mom.

A few years ago, I read about a study where people were shown a shopping bag with chocolate, cheese, and wine without a price. They were asked for the last two digits of their Social Security Number (SSN) and then told that the two digits was the cost of the items in the shopping bag. For example, if the last two digits of their SSN were 22, they were asked, hypothetically, if they'd pay $22 for the shopping bag of items.

In other words, the study participants knew that the pricing was random. Now a strange thing happened when they were then asked how much they'd be willing to pay for the items. The people whose SSNs ended with higher digits would, on average, be willing to pay more money for the same items in the shopping bag than the people with the lower last two digits. This is simply because the initial price they were told - even though it was random - was imprinted on them.

Practical Applications
In 1998, I started shooting and selling digital photos at races (5Ks, 10Ks, marathons, etc.). In 2002, I moved this side business online. In the beginning, when shoppers would put photos into their online shopping cart I would automatically choose the lowest priced format in the shopping cart's pop-up menu. After reading about the study I mentioned above I changed the shopping cart logic to display the highest priced item instead of the lowest. So, now, shoppers see the most expensive price possible ($59.95) and suffer a minor heart attack (click image for actual size).

Initially, the shopper was thinking that it's going to be very expensive to purchase their race photo. But, once they see the lower priced options in the pop-up menu they feel a great sense of relief and, unconsciously, they are now willing to spend more money (click image for actual size).

So, did this tactic mean more money in my pocket?
You bet - the average value of each order definitely went up!