Week of 7 December 2009
Update: Thursday, 10 December 2009 09:54 -0500
With effectively two weeks left for Christmas orders, things are
getting very hectic. I'm experiencing the retail product manager's
dilemma first-hand. Too much of some stuff on hand and not enough of
other stuff, with no time left to re-order. In my case, it's even
worse, because many of my products are bundles, made up from many
individual SKUs. If one of those SKUs goes out-of-stock, that kills the
bundle. And, in many cases, one particular SKU might be a part of
several bundles. But at least this year's experience might help me do a
little better next year.
- I just read an interesting article about what happens when fundamentalist religion comes to dominate a culture. The short answer? Science dies. And, although this article focuses on the pathetic scientific output of
the OIC (Islamic) countries, any form of fundamentalist religion is at
war with science.
Even Turkey, the most scientifically productive of OIC states, produced
only 88,000 research papers between 1996 and 2005, less than the
typical output of a single Ivy League university in the same period.
why we can't let the fundamentalist nutters win, whether they're
Islamic mullahs or Christian young-earth creationists. Either will do
its best to destroy science.
Or, as Richard Dawkins commented the other day, "Science flies men to the moon; religion flies planes into buildings."
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
The whole Make team is so busy with holiday sales that we haven't had a
moment to discuss stuff coming up next year. I hadn't even realized
that the dates had been finalized for Maker Faire Bay Area until
Barbara emailed me yesterday to tell me. I was surprised to see that
we're doing not one, not two, but three Maker Faires in 2010. The Bay
Area Maker Faire on May 22/23 I knew about. There'd been some brief
mention of doing a New York City Maker Faire, but no details, and now I
see that's set for September 25/26. And I'd never heard even a whisper
about the Detroit Maker Faire, which I see is now set for the weekend
of July 31/August 1. Now that I'm part of the Make team, I'll be going
to all of them, no doubt.
With the west coast, midwest, and east coast covered, I expect we'll
draw a lot of folks who've wanted to attend previous Maker Faires, but
didn't want to travel so far. I hope to see a lot of you at one or
another of the 2010 Maker Faires. Mark your calendars.
- Someone sent me a link to an Ars Technica article about Vevo,
Google's new Youtube-like video service. It's apparently a joint
venture between Google and the major record labels, which is sufficient
to establish that it's doomed to fail. Sure enough, when I visited the
site I found that I couldn't watch any videos because I use AdBlock
Plus. I could have disabled ABP long enough to watch a video, but why
bother? Who wants to watch DRM'd music videos surrounded by display ads
and with embedded commercials?
Google and the record labels
apparently haven't realized that they're competing with free. That
means the minimum bar is zero cost, zero ads, zero embedded
commercials, and zero DRM. A lesson that Hulu needs to learn as well.
Until they learn that, my interest in Vevo and Hulu is, well, zero.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
With less than two weeks of Christmas shopping left to go, things are
pretty hectic in Maker Shed. The whole team is working seven days a
week from early morning to late at night. I don't know about everyone
else, but inventory is giving me fits. I have good supplies remaining
of some Science Room stuff, but other stuff is sold out and with no
prospect of restocking before Christmas. Many of my vendors have long
lead times, often 30 to 60 days, and sometimes 90 days, so I'll be out
of stock on some stuff well into 2010.
For example, I put
together three microscope bundles: basic, intermediate, and advanced.
The constraint on those is the microscopes themselves. We sold out of
the intermediate and advanced models in late November, and the
manufacturer won't have them available until next year. Same deal on a
lot of other items, which I'd have had to order in early October, when
we had no real idea of how many we'd need.
Even the items that are in reasonably good shape inventory-wise worry me. For example, we're down to less than 70 units of the Microbe Motel bundle and less than 50 units of the Chem C3000 Chemistry Experiment Kit.
Ordinarily, those would be comfortable levels, but in the last couple
weeks before Christmas they're low enough that there's a good chance
we'll run out.
Of course, it's not just Maker Shed. Every
on-line vendor has similar problems this time of year. The moral is, if
you want to order stuff for Christmas, whether from Maker Shed or
elsewhere, now is the time to do it, before the stuff you really want
goes out of stock.
Saturday, 12 December
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