400GB DVR DVD Recorder

Here’s the next piece of electronica set to drive Jack Valenti into a mental institution: The Panasonic DMR-E500H.


The real excitement is the machine’s Specs: Its 400GB hard disk drive can record more than 700 hours of video from cable, satellite or broadcast. Any of that programming can be then burned to DVD for convenient place and time-shifting.

Its ability to “takes requests from cell phones while you are on the road” is a fun feature; More interestingly, it can be networked with other TVs and PCs in the home.

Selected SPECS for the Panasonic DMRE500

Plays pre-recorded DVD’s, CD’s, MP3s
Built in analogue TV tuner
Ethernet connection for networking
DVD-Audio (5.1) playback, Built-in Dolby Digital and DTS Decoders

Internal 250GB HD or 400GB HD for time shifting

Records DVD-RAM & DVD-R Video Blank Media
Single layer 4.7GB DVD-R system and DVD-RAM 4.7Gb systems
Real-time recording: MPEGII compression (8 hours per disc)

Playback programs recorded to DVD-RAM or HDD while watching another program on DVD-RAM or HDD

High speed transfer to and from HDD to DVD-RAM
Non-linear editing to transfer to DVD-RAM and from DVD-RAM to HDD
Playback while recording even at high bit rates (HDD and DVD-RAM)

Flexible recording mode allows you to manually time for recording and the player will set the best possible bit rate for that time, say 1 hour 15 minutes to fill a disc

daddy wants one . . .

The Panasonic DMR-E500 DVD-R / DVD-RAM / HDD Recorder


Honey, did you remember to call the DVD recorder?
By Ed Frauenheim
CNET News.com, September 8, 2004, 6:10 PM


Category: Finance, Television, Web/Tech

Employee Compensation

Ever look at the breakdown of employer costs for employee compensation? It is actually quite fascinating. According to today’s BLS release, for June 2004:

· Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $24.96 per hour worked;
· Wages and salaries, which averaged $17.70, accounting for 70.9% of costs;
· Benefits, averaging $7.26, accounted for the remaining 29.1%;
· Costs for *legally required benefits averaged $2.03 per hour 8.1%
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp(Note that represents the largest non-wage employer cost).
· Life, health, and disability insurance benefits averaged $1.93 (7.7%);
· Paid leave **benefits was $1.66 (6.6%);
· Retirement and savings benefits averaged $1.01 (4.1%).

All of the above is “per hour worked”

*Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation

**vacations, holidays, sick leave and other leave

National Compensation Survey – Compensation Cost Trends



Read More

Category: Finance

Challenge Time

Category: Finance

Chart of the Week: SPX

Category: Finance

Half a Million Hits!

Category: Weblogs

Customer Acquisition versus Retention: A case study in costs

Sprint_1 versus Cingular

Is your contract up with your cellular carrier? Don’t renew it, cancel it.

That’s how you can get the best deal from your current provider. At least, that’s what I learned when I attempted — unsuccessfully — to renew my contract with Sprint, my now former cellular carrier.

The lesson unintentionally taught me is that consumers get a much better deal from the “Retention” department of a large subscriber-based corporation than they do from the “Sales” department. Its not just Sprint — but they were the company that taught me these things. It turns out to be the case not only from mobile service providers, but other entities, such as ISPs — AOL is notorious in this regard.

We are also former customers of credit card provider Capital One, for the very same reasons: The deal they offered to the public was unavailable to us as customers. Over the years, their rates crept up on my (triple A credit) wife’s Master Card to 15%. They advertise a 10% card all the time. When they would’nt offer the same deal to us, it was buh-bye Capitol One (we got the preferred rate elsewhere). I suspect its true for a slew of other subscriber services.

I learned valuable lessons, and I share them with you, dear reader, in the belief that you will profit from my experiences. I also harbor the irrational hope that just maybe someone from one of these outfits will see this, and wise up.

But I am ahead of my self. Our quaint little story begins Christmas 2002, when we purchased a pair of Samsung N400 phones from Amazon. $200 each, plus a $200 rebate. (You may recall that I wrote how rebates sucked, and after much huffing and noise, we eventually got our cash. But that experience soured me on rebates, and I swore off rebates forever. I have stayed true to that oath).

Anyway, our contract expired in January. We got a marketing letter from Sprint to re-up. However, the deal they offered us, as their present customers, was far, far less attractive than the one they seemed to be spending billions of dollars advertising more or less nonstop on every media outlet available to everyone who is not their customers.

Read More

Category: Finance, Web/Tech

Accelerated Depreciation of Capital Spending

One of the questions which has been puzzling me for quite a while is this: Why have Economists been so wrong — and by so much, and for so long — about Job Growth?

Or as the WSJ put it, why is “Slow Job Growth Puzzling Economists?”

That quandry was the muse for this series on a relatively unknown portion of the Bush tax cuts. I decided to take a closer look at the effects of the soon-to-sunset bonus of Accelerated Depreciation of Capital Spending (ADCS). Our report is in two parts.

My conclusion?

1) ACDS stimulated corporate capital spending;
2) Very aggressive spending was made in ERP / Business Intelligence software;
3) Some of this capital spending came at the expense of new Hiring;
4) We are likely to see one last spasm of spending heading into Q4;
5) Some of this spending is being pulled through from 2005;
6) Once ADCS sunsets, there may possibly be an improvement in Hiring in 2005.

That’s the broad overview; continue on if you want to read the gritty details.

Read More

Category: Finance

Will Wage Pressure Persist in 2005?

Category: Finance

Post 9/11′s Hobson’s Choice


I normally do not address anything 9/11 related on this day. I said my piece on it the day after, and prefer to leave it at that.

However, something I read yesterday struck a chord with me. The notoriously right wing Op-Ed pages of the WSJ has one of the most intriguing commentaries on this political race I have ever read. It is by Mark Helprin, a contributing editor at Wall Street Journal.

I approach anything on that page with a presumption that it will be coming from the far right wing of the political spectrum. That, in and of itself, does not make it wrong. Many of history’s most respected and intellectually rigorous thinkers were conservatives. Do not allow the present crew of charlatans and prevaricators to bias you against intelligent rhetoric, regardless of origin.

My own viewpoint tends towards the pragmatic. I prefer not to think in terms of left or right, but rather in the language of execution: competance versus incompetance, intelligent versus foolish. This leads me to hold some rather unusual viewpoints: I would much rather see a policy whose goals I disagree with — excepting extremes — executed competently, than have something I am in favor of hamhandedly mismanaged. Poor execution of a favorable goal actually does far far more damage than the crisp, well-executed policies I may be against, be they smartly done.

One need think no further than Iraq to understand this concept.

Which leads me to Helprin’s editorial: Competance is the key theme underlying his worldview. He writes of how unprepared we were for 9/11, despite the myriad warnings ignored by 4 Presidents. Even worse, three years after 9/11, he is essentially dumfounded that we have done nothing — or worse — to prepare for the next assault, all but guaranteed to be coming our way.

Finally, he finds the incompetance demonstrated by the present Commander-in-Chief — “in appearance a denizen of the Pleistocene, who recites slogans that he believes but does not understand” — to be frightening. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, he remains astounded that the challenger cannot articulate a message of our horrific vulnerbility in terms that are clear and persuasive. Given the current adminisitration’s failure to take the appropriate steps to protect this nation, it is simply dumfounding that his opponent is so mute.

An incendiary excerpt — none too flatterring to either candidate — is below:

“Our strategy has been deeply inadequate especially in light of the fact that we have refused to build up our forces even as our aims have expanded to the point of absurdity. We might have based in northern Saudi Arabia within easy range of the key regimes that succor terrorism, free to coerce their cooperation by putting their survival in question. Our remounted infantry would have been refreshed, reinforced, properly supported, unaffected by insurgency, and ready to strike. The paradigm would have shifted from conquer, occupy, fail, and withdraw — to strike, return, and re-energize. At the same time, we would not have solicited challenges, as we do now, from anyone who sees that although we may be occupying Iraq, Iraq is also occupying us.

We have abstained from mounting an effective civil defense. Only a fraction of a fraction of our wealth would be required to control the borders of and entry to our sovereign territory, and not that much more to discover, produce, and stockpile effective immunizations, antidotes, and treatments in regard to biological and chemical warfare. Thirty years ago the entire country had been immunized against smallpox. Now, no one is, and the attempt to cover a minuscule part of the population failed miserably and was abandoned. Not only does this state of affairs leave us vulnerable to a smallpox epidemic, it stimulates the terrorists to bring one about. So with civil aviation, which, despite the wreckage and tragedy of September 11, is protected in an inefficient, irresponsible, and desultory fashion.

Read More

Category: Politics

Budget Imbalance

Category: Finance