Tuesday Morning: Chasing the Clouds Away

Hope by this afternoon all the major thoroughfares are clear and transportation nearly back to normal along the east coast. You’d think by now we’d have developed and installed self-maintaining highways that melt ice and snow, right?

For now, let’s dig.

A former Goldman Sachs exec parts company with CenturyLink
They called it “creating an environment that was unproductive,” and maybe it was — a diversified telecom organization may not be a great fit for an investment banker, leading to some less-than-productive discussions. But a nearly unanimous vote said Joseph Zimmel, retired GS exec, should not apply for re-election to CenturyLink’s board of directors. Wonder if the rumored-but-not-completed acquisition of Rackspace had anything to do with this rocky situation?

Retail Mixed Bag: Wal-Mart retrenches, Staples rethinks, Shoes.com kicks butt
The Arkansas-based retailer is closing up its 102 Wal-Mart Express stores, as well as a few of its full-sized stores. Were the smaller stores simply too much overhead, or were they cannibalizing sales from larger stores, or did Amazon finally cut into Wal-Mart’s sales enough that Wal-Mart needed to reduce?

Staples, one of the two largest big box office supply retailers, changed up some of its senior management while indicating it may back out of its proposed merger with the other mega office supply retailer, Office Depot. The merger has not received approval yet from the USDOJ. This unresolved deal may be a bigger liability in terms of expense by now, especially when all retail sales have slowed down.

Shoes.com is looking for cash to make some acquisitions. This Canadian online shoe retailer is bucking the retail trend with a strong uptick in sales in spite of stiff competition from Zappos and Amazon.

All three retailers mirror a turn-down in consumption — even Shoes.com. If retail was doing well, there’d be less need to close brick-and-mortar stores or buy up market share.

Six GOP Senators suck up to ISPs while annoying broadband users
Quel surprise: a handful of GOP Senators sent a letter to the FCC saying that standard broadband speeds are arbitrary, and most users don’t need the current baseline speed.

I’d like to know why some tech media won’t name names. Fortunately, The Hill listed the signatories. Senators Roy Blunt (MO), Steve Daines (MT), Deb Fischer (NE), Cory Gardner (CO), Ron Johnson (WI) and Roger Wicker (MS) wrote,

“Looking at the market for broadband applications, we are aware of few applications that require download speeds of 25 Mbps … Netflix, for example, recommends a download speed of 5 Mbps to receive high-definition streaming video, and Amazon recommends a speed of 3.5 Mbps.”

The stupid, it burns almost as much as the visible corporate whoring. Like nobody in their world has multiple users in a household sharing service or online gamers or emerging technology which does need increasingly higher speeds. Hope these folks aren’t on committees for cybersecurity issues — wait, what? Every one of these six dipschitz is on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet. ~screaming into pillow~

I can’t with this. I must change gears or go insane. Keep the wheels on the road, kids.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
9 replies
  1. lefty665 says:

    Jeez, we already trail much of the world in broadband speed, and these dorks want to throttle it more? WTF? A lot of us with DSL are asynchronous as hell too. Upload dawdling already limits handshake to choke download throughput to less than rated. Do the dingbats want to screw with that too?

    • Rayne says:

      lefty665 — I have no idea why these morons get elected. They have “corporate whore” written all over them. Their constituent voters acted against their own best interests picking these chumps who shouldn’t be trusted with sharp objects.

  2. P J Evans says:

    In my area, there are no Staples, but there are OfficeDepot/OfficeMax stores. A merger of the two chains would create a monopoly – and it would be bad for customers. (I’ve been in Staples. a couple of times. Not Impressed.)

    • Rayne says:

      P J Evans — If Staples bought OfficeDepot, all OfficeDepot and OfficeMax stores would be Staples, though not certain if they’d switch to single brand, or retain existing names as OfficeDepot did when it bought OfficeMax. It’d be the same situation as now in your locale: one Big Box office supply retailer. Probably no competing small mom-and-pop office supply shop.

      Not certain why there isn’t a decision yet about this deal. Are there enough alternative office supply retailers with Quill and Amazon for supplies and Best Buy for business electronics? Are store fronts still part of the equation? What a mess.

      • lefty665 says:

        Tiger Direct and Newegg have been part of keeping on-line tech pricing honest. Amazon’s prices ain’t all that great on tech stuff. Seems they’ve been targeting consumers not techies or office mgrs. Dunno what’s going to change with Tiger in the midst of going out of business. They’ve been price leaders for a decade or more.
        .
        Think you’re right that it’s a question whether big box tech/business supplies stores are still relevant. Lots of overhead and tight margins are a tough business model when volume siphons off to on-line. For those of us in the boonies, the switch to on-line came long ago close on the heels of rural broadband. The UPS driver and Priority Mail are our friends.
        .
        Like P J I’ve never been impressed by Staples. Only went there when I had to and then had to beat them into competitive pricing by bringing the ads with me.
        .
        Hey Rayne, ZDNet just hit my inbox with a story on Con Edison’s sloppy security putting user information at risk. It’s not just the grid they don’t secure.

  3. martin says:

    Speaking of the dipschitz of the “Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet”…I’m positive they’ve had their stinking little paws involved in this too…

    http://theantimedia.org/the-us-government-has-an-internet-killswitch-and-its-none-of-your-business/

    Given the Internet/Cellphones are ubiquitous across State and local governments, law enforcement, fire departments, 911, hospitals, and a thousand other institutional social infrastructure, I’d be interested in what would happen should the USG decide to shut down the net/cellphone backbone. Although..I sure wouldn’t want to see it happen in real time, I’d submit it would get reeeeeeeeeeeal ugly..real quick.

  4. Rayne says:

    lefty665 (3:06) — When I order tech items, I shop around. Amazon ends up getting my order…but they are the online storefront for numerous smaller retailers. I’m pretty sure at one point TigerDirect used Amazon’s online store, think my first Asus netbook was ordered from Amazon but sold by Tiger. Think this is what’s missing in the evaluation of Amazon vs Big Box: Amazon is a distribution company, and it distributes not only for itself but for small retailers who can’t otherwise afford an e-commerce operation.

    As for office supplies — I’ve ordered my calendars for +5 years from Amazon even though they’re fairly common At-A-Glance or Moleskine items. The local Big Box stores (and we have both Staples and OfficeDepot) never have them in stock, or they don’t offer them online, or the price has been so much better through Amazon.

    Yeah, yeah, I’m supposed to hate Amazon all the publishing companies tell me, and unions tell me, but there’s room for a competitor out there and nobody has yet to get their act together and create one. I haven’t figured out what Sears’ idiotic management team has been doing besides running the corporation into the ground, for example. They were THE catalog company at one time in their history. Why haven’t they used all their retail stores (including Kmart) as distribution centers to take on Amazon? Why haven’t they encouraged unionization of their own workers a la Costco and sucked up all the employees from Amazon? For that matter, why hasn’t Sears sidled up to Costco to take on both Amazon and Wal-Mart?

    And thanks for the tip about ConEd, I’ll check it out. That kind of exposure was just a matter of time.

    • lefty665 says:

      ConEd – HTTP, not HTTPS on their front end where you log in. Amazing.
      .
      I hear you on Amazon, we end up being good customers for a lot of stuff. Prime’s quick enough to beat a trip to town if nothing’s burning or bleeding. What the hell did happen to Sears? They pretty much invented mail order along with Monkey Wards. The transition from a printed catalog to a web site doesn’t seem like a business killer. Looks like along the way they got trapped in the mall.

  5. Rayne says:

    martin — I don’t think these same dipschitz are involved in the kill switch. If they’re so easily led by corporations, they’ll be just as easily led by the MIC masquerading as law enforcement on this matter. They’ll blithely go along with the premise that kill switches are necessary, just as they’ll swallow whole the argument that backdoors are a must. They’ll let the executive branch continue to run the show as it has via NSA/CIA/DOJ/DHS.

    Someday they’ll realize ubiquitous backdoors on the autonomous automobiles of the near-term future mean an entire highway system could be shut down by hackers (including nation-state hackers). But I bet it’ll take an incident before they clue in.

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