Skipping a Convention in North Carolina, because of a discriminatory, hateful law

By , August 19, 2016

North Carolina’s absurd, hateful new law, prohibiting people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity, has caused a backlash against the state as a convention and tourism destination.  The NBA moved the All-Star game from Charlotte because of the law, and a variety of other groups have also canceled plans for conventions in North Carolina, either because they are boycotting the state directly, or as a result of pressure from customers, members, potential attendees, potential exhibitors, and corporate sponsors.

This week, while exhibiting at the Channel Partners Evolution conference in Washington DC, I learned that next year, the event will be in Charlotte, North Carolina. (This location information doesn’t yet appear on their web sites!) I immediately informed Informa Exhibitions that our company won’t exhibit or attend.

That was a bit premature and presumptuous of me, since I hadn’t yet discussed the issue with our company’s owner. But when I returned to Fremont, he agreed that if I wasn’t comfortable going there, then we won’t be represented there.

I was somewhat amused that when I raised the issue with one of Informa’s sales representatives, he acted as if I was the first person to mention the issue. Later, I discussed this with some other exhibitors, who shared the exact same story: when they raised the issue of North Carolina’s discriminatory law, their sales reps also pretended that it was the first time the issue had ever been raised.

I do understand Informa’s position.  I don’t know when they chose the location, but they’re clearly very price-sensitive — else, why schedule these conventions in August in the hot, humid mid-Atlantic region? Changing the location now would likely mean forfeiting deposits and might louse up non-refundable travel plans for some people.

But in my mind, there was no decision to be made; I’m not going to visit North Carolina while the state legislature’s unconstitutional law continue in effect. Why would I want to visit a place where the law deliberately incites hate against any group?

Yes, I know that more than half of North Carolina residents believe that the law is wrong.  Perhaps in November, they will vote for legislators who will repeal the law and denounce the hateful ideas it embodies. If so, I might be able to attend this event.

Containerized Data Centers, Water-Cooled ☺

By , July 29, 2016

Data Center Containers? Water cooled data centers?  ☺

Containerized Data Centers

Data Center Containers

☺ For more pictures of (real) containerized data centers, see: https://www.google.com/search?q=data+center+container&tbm=isch

Commissions: Apples, Oranges, Potatoes & Spam

By , July 12, 2016

Today, a master agency complained that our commission percentages don’t match the high rates offered by some other vendors. My response:

Yes, our commission percentages don’t look impressive when compared to other vendors who sell different services, and others whose channel programs are designed quite differently. Read more »

Fake USB Flash Drives (eBay)

By , June 19, 2016

There are Bad People out there, who sell USB flash drives designed to show fake capacity values.

Over the past year, I’ve purchased a few dozen USB flash drives, with capacities ranging from 8GB to 256GB.  Some were genuine; most were fakes. Read more »

Interesting LinkedIn Profile Skills (funny)

By , May 26, 2016

LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to list up to 50 “Skills” in our profiles, and until today I thought the most interesting and creative list of skills was in technology journalist Dan Tynan’s profile, which includes these:

Pole Dancing, Kitten Wrangling, snarkitude, Breathing, Sleep Deprivation, Prescience, Waffle Making, Navel Gazing, Confabulation, Sarcasm, Eating, and Sleep.

But today, I found Googler Todd Underwood’s profile, which includes:

Read more »

Seeking Custom-Imprinted Sliding Webcam Covers

By , May 23, 2016

I’m trying to find a source for custom imprinted “sliding webcam covers,” quantity 1,000.

Any and all suggestions are welcome (mwelch@he.net).

(promotional products, advertising specialties, customized, imprinted, imprint, logo, brand, branded, schwag, tchochke)

Unicorn Startups: The Rules Don’t Apply to Us

By , May 9, 2016

Excellent article about a “unicorn” startup: “Zenefits Was the Perfect Startup. Then It Self-DisruptedWhat happened when an HR firm had some epic HR problems” (http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-zenefits/) in Bloomberg, by Claire Suddath and Eric Newcomer.

Like some other “unicorns” in recent years, Zenefits decided that the rules didn’t apply to its company: in this case, state-by-state licensing requirements when selling insurance, and the training and compliance requirements for such sales.

In other cases, Uber ignored laws regulating taxis and limosines, and AirBNB unilaterally declared itself immune from state and local laws regarding hotels and property rentals.  Nearly all unicorns (and many smaller startups) believe they are magically exempt from employment laws, including wage & hour rules.

Yes, it’s possible to disrupt an entrenched industry by simply ignoring all applicable legal restrictions.  But then, the company’s grand dream is likely to be disrupted by regulatory investigations and lawsuits — and in some cases, by simple failure to competently deliver the promised services.

At least the current generation of startups mostly don’t share the magical belief that was common in the earlier dot-com (dot-bomb) era: “the economics of businesses don’t apply to our unique company.”

Free Peering vs. Paid IP Transit: A Quick Explanation

By , April 1, 2016

A prospective customer asked one of our agents,

Why can’t I just connect to the internet using free peering? …  I see that Hurricane Electric peers on [a particular Internet Exchange Point] and it is ‘Open BGP,’ meaning they take all peers…  Theoretically that implies we can get to the internet via that path… right?  Something seems wrong here… right?”

Correct: something is wrong with this theory.

Peering is for traffic directed to another peer’s own network and that peer’s paid customers.   Read more »

Trade Show Checklist – What to Bring to an Exhibit Booth

By , December 31, 2015

Taking advantage of a slow work day, I’m updating my “Trade Show Checklist” as I plan for some upcoming events.  These are all items that I want on hand for any event.  (This list does not include “exhibit-specific” items, such as hex wrenches or spare parts for display booths, nor “equipment-specific” items like Cat5 network cable, computer disks, or spare bulbs.)

I have not included “camera” as a separate line item because we all have smart phones with cameras built in.

Your suggestions are welcome!

Note that items marked with * are not appropriate for carry-on luggage.

Read more »

Doing Business, Profits, and Startups

By , November 6, 2015

The goal of most businesses, I believe, should be to earn a profit from the sale of goods or services.

Over the past 20+ years, we’ve seen a succession of bizarre business models, in which little thought was given to “profit,” but instead to intermediate metrics (our web site needs visitors, eyeballs, clicks, engagement, etc.).  Many dot-com companies succumbed to ‘perverse incentives.’Read more »

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