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Can Technology Make The Money For You? 147

Crais writes: "Using JetBlue, the Mens' Wearhouse, and others as examples, this article out of Newsweek shows how tossing money into new technology, and giving employees nice benefits/perks can actually make your business profitable, and pleasurable to work for. Sheesh, I just want my company to buy some real networking equipment..."
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Can Technology Make The Money For You?

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  • at the top of the article. This is a technology company marketing the concept that injecting more technology into your company will help it succeed.
    • No shirt, Shitlock, check the URL: It's on msnbc.

    • gives its home workers a computer, but requires them to pay about $45 a month for two phone lines to handle calls and dial into the booking system. "It's a small price," says Smith, who makes reservations 25 hours a week in her slippers. (She makes about $9 an hour; starting pay is $7.75.) JetBlue doesn't fuss about a dress code, but insists that callers not be treated to the sounds of domestic bliss, like crying kids. Supervisors monitor calls occasionally to make sure that all a customer hears is a friendly voice and a clicking keyboard. JetBlue gave its reservation agents computers so they could work from home; Jill Smith puts in about 25 hours a week of work, often in slippers. The savings from running a home-based reservation center helped the airline report its first profit a mere six months after its first flight.
      Now THIS is what the Internet was made for, exactly what the dot-com boom was targetted towards but got hijacked by confused people that didn't know that this is the way to do it. Plus of course Webshots [].

    • One thing that MicroSoft has suceeded in doing is that they have commoditized the Computer Technology (or IT, ITC, or whatever you wanna call it).

      In the beginning, computer technology was with the mainframe. Those working with computers were pointed haired rocket scientists.

      Then came the BIY (Built it yourself) Personal Computer. Those hacking it were pointed haired computer scientists.

      Then came IBM, with its ubiquitious PC. IBM was successful in filling offices with its PCs.

      Then came Microsoft.

      It WAS Microsoft which had the world crazed with Computers. Scores ... I mean MILLIONS of people enrolled into colleges hoping to learn Computers.

      Now, we have MILLIONS of "Computer Literates" coming out of the colleges all over the world, and resulting in many untold thousands having difficulties in finding work !

      Now we have this report.

      If you look at Computer Technology as commodity, as it already is, you will know that in the future, there won't be so much DEMAND for those who are "Computer Literate".

      Look at farming.

      How many farmers are needed to operate the farms ?

      There may be millions of cows, but it won't take one million of farmers to raise one million of cows.

      Same with Computer Technology.

      In the future, computer technology will be everywhere - embedded, Internet, whatever.... but the DEMAND for those who run and/or create these things will be LESS than what it is today.

      Why ?

      Look at HTML.

      Used to be that if you want to run a website, you gotta know how to code HTML.

      Today, the only requirement for one to set up a website is to know how to click, and what to click.

      It's ironic ... The progress of Computer Technology obliterate the need for those who INVENT / CREATE the technology in the first place.

      In other words, the future is NOT BRIGHT.

      Forget the report. Whatever the report tells us, it's from Microsoft.

      Of course Microsoft wants the world to believe that the world is BRIGHTER THAN BEFORE... only in that way, the world will CONTINUE TO BUY EXPENSIVE SOFTWARES from Microsoft.

      If the world knows that the future ain't bright no more, the world will NOT PAY THE HIGH PRICE for the CRAPPY STUFFS from Microsoft.

      And that's what I have to say .
  • by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <john,lamar&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:03PM (#3397521) Homepage Journal
    "Sheesh, I just want my company to buy some real networking equipment..."

    Please don't tell me you work for my ISP. Some how I'd believe you.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      One little perk of technological progress is that the price of technology relative to the cost of human labour goes down over time. So it will only become easier to satiate your employees with the latest and greatest toys. On the other hand, a bloated management structure will become more and more costly. Hooray for progress!
    • haha, no i work for a company that manages clinical research trials, even better right? get this, DB server is a celeron :o/ HELP!!!
  • I've noticed over the years that businesses tend to wait until something is broken before trying to fix it. Communication breakdown occurs much quicker when companies refuse to accept that new(er) technologies can increase productivity and correct problems. Alas, they don't realize it until it is too late because they don't want want to open their pocketbooks.
  • by interstellar_donkey ( 200782 ) <> on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:09PM (#3397566) Homepage Journal
    I'm pretty dang lucky. I work from home. If I ask for technology, I typically get it.

    It makes financial sense. My boss does'nt need to provide office space for me, his overhead is lowered, and I'm happier.

    I asked for a wireless network in my home. Out of all the reasons I wanted it, the reality was 'So I can sit at the bar down the street and work while having a beer'. The response: 'Well, don't get too drunk'.

    Using technology to accomidate workers, to provide for them a better work envrionment is a no-brainer. I remember one place I worked at.. the boss would see me sitting outside smoking a cigarette. "What are you doing?" 'I'm waiting for a download to finish. Theres really nothing I can do until it's done'. He would'nt buy broadband for the office, and as a result, not only annoyed me, but waisted far more paid man hours then the cost of putting a decent connection and network into the office.

    • "I need wireless so I can work while on the 'tank". One TV-tray, a pcmcia card, and a WAP later I have the most, er, fragrant work area on the planet.
    • One of the reasons I left a previous employer was that the server room had 17" monitors and we were forbidden to get anything larger than a 15" monitor. There are just so many things wrong with that situation that I don't know where to begin. Why one monitor per computer? Why were they turned on normally? Why did they need to be larger if they were only displaying their 25 lines of text? What would the programmers do with the extra monitor space?

      Its not like I quit just because of this one thing, but this was representative of the way things were run.
    • by nehril ( 115874 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:36PM (#3397771)
      ... electronic kiosks in Virgin's stores that allow customers to sample 30-second snippets from a database of approximately 250,000 CDs. The experiment began last year in two of the chain's outlets and was considered a huge success. Virgin executives found that when customers come into a store with a specific album in mind, they're three times as likely to actually purchase the product if they give it a test drive.

      hmn... letting people try music makes them more likely to purchase? where have we seen that before?

      • I think it's about time the record companies started realising that mp3s have led to increased sales & free advertising and stop being so draconian about them!
        • I think it's about time the record companies started realising that mp3s have led to increased sales & free advertising and stop being so draconian about them!

          I don't think you realize why the record companies don't like mp3 trading. They probably realize that they do sell more cds each year, compared to the last. What the problem is, they don't make any money when you trade mp3's. They want to make money anyway, and everyway that they can. They see a world where everytime you click to download an mp3, they get money. Right now, this is not happening. You could get all the data you wanted, showing charts, graphs, anything saying that they did do better this year then last, but they still are not going to like free mp3 trading. I remember around when napster was getting in trouble, the RIAA had stated that they lost 6% in sales that year. What they didn't mention is that the only loss they had was in tape and cd singles, everything else was a rise in the sale of said product. They could be pulling one of those "We projected we would make x amount, but we only made y amount instead. The only logical solution to this was because of z, when in fact the public just didn't buy as many this year as they did last because of a large rush of commercialized crap bands that come in a neatly packaged up in a box or whatever else it might be.

          So in short, I think they already do realize that mp3's have led to increased sales and free advertising. They wont admit it though. They just see that they could be making 4 times as much if they were in control.

    • I asked for a wireless network in my home. Out of all the reasons I wanted it, the reality was 'So I can sit at the bar down the street and work while having a beer'.

      What the hell kind of wireless network do you have? I can't even get mine to reach to the other end of my house, let alone down the street. Hopefully your family and those in your neighborhood don't start growing extra limbs from all of that high powered radiation you're pumping out! :-)

      Ignore all that above if you're referring to something like Bluetooth...
    • You mean employers actually CARE if your happy?
      hmmm where do you get one of those jobs???
  • by line-bundle ( 235965 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:10PM (#3397581) Homepage Journal
    Yes, if you buy a color photocopier.
  • It's funny how an article that says businesses can save money by developing software with new technologies has an ad for Microsoft .NET at the top.
  • I didn't read the entire article. I was too intrigued by JetBlue's reservation agents working from home. My wife currently stays home with our 9 month old baby, and it would be great if she could work from home at the same time. So I went to JetBlue []'s web page. I was sad to see they had no listings currently. I also noticed when you hit the drop down for the location, there was no home or telecommute option. The article said you had to pay for 2 phone lines, and they'd provide the computer. Why can't you have 1 phone line and high speed internet? Can't they set up a VPN access or something? Sheesh.
    • Plus, you can only be a work-from-home reservation agent if you live in Utah; they won't let you work-from-home from Tulsa, or Ancorage, or Burbank, or Peoria, or Atlanta, or...

    • True telecommuting is doing exactly what you'd do in the office, but at home. As such, just as new parents can't bring the baby in and drop the crib beside their desk, most employers aren't keen on the idea of you doing that at home either, and when it's used as a reason for telecommuting, it's a primary factor why many organizations try to avoid the situation altogether by simply refusing to have any telecommuting whatsoever.
      • My boss knows that when I work from home, I may take my daughter to pre-school or McDonalds. He also knows that I'll probably eat lunch while working, and that if I'm in the middle of something I'll come back to it after dinner and the kids go to bed.

        In other words, he gets more work out of me at home where I can concentrate than he does when I'm in the office constantly being interrupted.
        • I'll agree for sure that a lot of people can get a tremendous amount more done at home, however the common perception when it comes to telecommuting is an unfortunate "me too" syndrome where people start talking about how they'll get this or that done, etc: Their first priority is home life, and the second priority is the job. That is a very flawed method of entering into telecommuting, and many in management (who believe that the more "put out" you are somehow the more beneficial that is to them) see that sort of thought process and immediately discount telecommuting.
    • Why can't you have 1 phone line and high speed internet?

      Perhaps because it's cheaper. You'd have to get business-grade internet service since you're using it for business, and that _costs._ If they were going to go to the trouble of setting up a VPN, it'd have to be worth the while, meaning a significant fraction of telecommuters would use it (and be willing to pay for the service). Easier to just do what they do.
  • Make Money Fasst (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scotch ( 102596 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:15PM (#3397617) Homepage
    Can technology make money for you? Hmmm, let me think. Agriculture. The Wheel. Pentagon hammers. Vibrating dildos. Recorded music. Laser Hair Removal. Yes. Technology isn't just computers and other slashdot-style-geek toys.

  • Welded-wire fence? (That dates back to the 1920s, and is available from many sources.) Turning reservation clerks into homeworkers? (And making them pay for their own phone lines!) Paging people when it's their turn? (I've seen that in restaurants). That's Newsweek's idea of technology?

    We need more basic research.

  • Some things good, some not so good.

    JetBlue is only paying $9/hr.? A little low, even for part-time. Good to see a company that's finally figuring out that there are benefits (and not all economic) to telecommuting.

    The guy who isn't patenting BigFoot sounds very cool.

    The virtual queuing was extremely cool. Too bad they are charging for it though ($10 a PERSON???). Should be included.

    Just some thoughts.
    • JetBlue is only paying $9/hr.? A little low, even for part-time. Good to see a company that's finally figuring out that there are benefits (and not all economic) to telecommuting.
      Oh, I think the benefits are economic, all right. Jet Blue not only doesn't pay for an office for their reservation staff, they make the staff pay the telephone bill! $45/month out of a $975/month paycheck. That's before taxes! Such a great company! I wish my employer made me pay the phone bill -- NOT! I sure hope they get a tax deduction for it.

  • Working from home (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AConnection ( 106831 )
    I have often thought about working from home, and could probably justify doing so with my work (Electronic Records Management) but I have two little problems - a 2.5 yr old daughter and a 10 months old son. I love them both incredibly and spend a lot of time with them outside of work, but I see how little my wife sometimes can get done if the kids are demanding a lot of attention. In addition, I still think that getting out and working outside of the house is a nice break from the family and allows me to appreciate them even more.
  • by KernelHappy ( 517524 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:22PM (#3397671) Homepage
    These are what I see as the secrets behind JetBlue:

    - Their ticket prices are very reasonable.
    - They fly non-stop to their destinations.
    - Their main hub is based close to a(the) major metropolitan city (New York).
    - They don't serve crappy meals just snacks.
    - Each seat has its own TV with 24 channels.
    - They fly out of a notoriously annoying airport at off-peak hours making the airport far less of an issue.
    - They have a new fleet of jets that are quiet and in excellent condition.

    Where does their IT actually improve their product? They are a relatively small airline and they are bound to the scheduling and baggage routing procedures of the airports that they fly through and they don't have to schedule in flight meal delivery. As a JetBlue customer it seems more like their IT is barely relevant. Then again that can be a sign of excellent IT infrastructure.
    • That new fleet is a huge piece of the puzzle and I hope the people who are buying up their stock are not in it for the long haul.

      Due to their small size and the fact that they have brand new aircraft- their maintenance costs are incredibly low compared to others.

      As the fleet ages and grows - this is going to go away. You wont be hiring jet mechanics for $9.00 an hour and they can't telecommute.

      The more hours you put on an air frame- the more expensive it gets to keep it in the air.

      • That new fleet is a huge piece of the puzzle and I hope the people who are buying up their stock are not in it for the long haul.

        Well, I got some shares in the IPO of Jet Blue, and I bought it for the long haul, if by that you mean, more than 1 year. Which is long term stock holding. And I was aware of this, so obviously it never stopped me from doing that.

        Due to their small size and the fact that they have brand new aircraft- their maintenance costs are incredibly low compared to others. As the fleet ages and grows - this is going to go away. You wont be hiring jet mechanics for $9.00 an hour and they can't telecommute. The more hours you put on an air frame- the more expensive it gets to keep it in the air.

        Unless they limit their fleet to specific models. So long as they don't try to do any mergers and acquisitions, but just grow with planes that stick to the model and parts selection they planned on, it's not an issue.

        This is akin to why Dell can ship prefab computers cheaply - they don't have an extensive selection of options. Same goes for Apple.

        More choices is not always better when trying to compete. That's why MSFT tries to limit your choices - to just their OS. If you don't use their OS, they try to make your life impossible in as many ways as possible.

        • More choices is not always better when trying to compete. That's why MSFT tries to limit your choices - to just their OS. If you don't use their OS, they try to make your life impossible in as many ways as possible.

          Your analogy is flawed. In the case of an airline, the benefits of standardizing are both with the vendor and the customer - the vendor gets a stream of orders, the customer gets economies of scale on equipment, components, training, hiring, etc. The two points at which negotiation occur are the initial purchase, and in the case where it becomes cheaper to break with standardization, eating the cost of doing so because the economies of scale have been eroded. So long as that doesn't happen, it's a win-win. For employees, on the one hand, engineers on a particular model find that they're easy to replace, but they also find that they're well trained and can go work for another airline without too much trouble. This increases competitiveness for alrcraft manufacturers, airlines, and airline employees.

          The same is true for operating systems. There are very few IT shops in the world who don't standardize. Even if they go for "best of breed" and integrate components, they will have a workstation supplier, a server supplier, a router supplier, etc - even if your application ./configure's on a dozen OSs, simply having lots of different hardware means you can't afford to keep parts in stock for them all. Different operating systems have different quirks, meaning you need staff trained on them all, or hard to find specialists.

          In summary, the average Slashbot's obsession with Microsoft cannot be leveraged into every topic posted on the site...
      • True their cost of maintenance will rise as the fleet ages. But considering that the major airlines have much larger fleets that are already 10 years old on average they have some time before it will really hurt them. The size of their fleet still makes maintenance costs lower. Provided they slowly add more planes they have have plenty of time to establish themselves (as if they already haven't in select markets) before it their cost of maintenance even comes close to approaching that of the larger carriers.
    • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @06:04PM (#3397910) Homepage
      Where does their IT actually improve their product?

      Read the article. When you call JetBlue to make a reservation, the agent you are talking to is working from home. JetBlue doesn't have the overhead of office space for their agents; their agents are happier; they have lower turnover among their agents. In short, they have lower overhead costs.

      A company like JetBlue competes by offering good service for a lower price; cutting their overhead helps them keep their ticket prices lower. Happy employees helps keep the service good. It's good business any way you look at it.

      Note that your first bullet point was "Their ticket prices are very reasonable." So we could say that lower overhead contributes directly to making their product better.

      P.S. Older, more rigid Theory X [] companies don't like telecommuting. They want employees in an office where it is easy to keep an eye on them and crack a whip over them. I'm happy to see another example of why Theory X isn't needed.


      • That's not IT though, it's Human Resources.
        • steveha's point that their telecommuniting employees save on overhead is actually valid and it is a part of their IT infrastructure. That said it does reduce their overhead, probably to a great extent.

          However I still feel my point is valid that their lack of IT saves them even more. Larger airlines have huge infrastructure in place to coordinate more than reservations (infact many outsource their reservation systems these days).

          Larger airlines have to coordinate activities among several hubs. They have to account for supplies for each flight, passenger and baggage routing, maintenance, employee scheduling.

          JetBlues non-stop service alleviates the need to plan passenger and baggage transfers. Since they don't serve them they don't have to coordinate the arrival of meals. As stoolpigeon mentioned because their fleet is newer combined with the fact that they only have one hub their maintenance infrastructure is smaller/more efficient. They also don't have to support and schedule as many employees in many different locations.

          Because of their size and business plan their IT outlay seems like it can be far less per passenger than for the larger airlines.
  • by mwalker ( 66677 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:22PM (#3397672) Homepage
    If you have an Internet connection and a Web Browser, this technology gives you the chance to win this online-only crossword puzzle about Slashdot trivia, chock full of fabulous prizes! See, technology can make money for you!
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    Now's your chance to see just how well you've been paying attention during the past four years of chips, dips, Micro$loth, Napster, IPOs, BSD, rights online, editor censorship, and of course Linux, Linux, Linux! Complete the following professional-quality crossword puzzle chock full of trivia on Slashdot, Open Source, and geekiness in general for not only posterity but GREAT PRIZES!! Prizes include the following:

    A fresh box of QUAKER GRITS []!
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    It doesn't get much better than this, folks! Here's how to play:

    Fill in the crossword completely. No incomplete (or incorrect) solutions will be considered.
    Once you're sure you have the crossword completely figured out, submit it to slashdot_crossword at [mailto]. If you indeed have the solution, one of the above four prizes are yours! The prizes are in limited supply (well, except for the VA stock certificates), so get those solutions in early!
    The winners will be announced on 2002/04/28, to be praised in -1 crapfloods for all eternity (or at least until the crapflooders get bored and go back to posting gay Slashdot editor fanfics).

    While we fully assert that this crossword is professional quality, there are of course some variations from the standard crossword form to make things more interesting for the Slashdot crowd. Some answers are used more than once. Digits (0-9) exist in some answers. Some clues are repeated with different answers. Many of the answers are acronyms or initialisms; if the answer that comes to mind doesn't fit, try thinking of common abbreviations for it. And, of course, the crossword indices are all in hexadecimal (this is Slashdot, after all!)

    So, without further ado, here comes the crossword! Plain HTML is admittedly ugly and unpleasant to look at, so you may download and print a nice PDF version here []. Good luck!

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    49. An online webzine which demonstrated that online subscriptions don't work to everybody except CmdrTaco.
    4B. If you moderate in a way CmdrTaco doesn't like, you earn this special database flag.
    4C. vi does a poor job of emulating this standard Unix text editor.
    4D. To B or not __ _.
    4E. You won't get much use out of this text-recognition technology if all you use your scanner for is scanning your ass.
    50. The sound Michael's head makes when he's stuffing it up his rectum.
    52. Unique index for a whole LIST of babble.
    53. The world's best operating system!
    54. Father of Methuselah, or old-school Slashdot troll.
    55. You don't need to be a Kreskin to predict this operating system's future.
    56. Most geeks sleep through this half of the day.
    57. This open-source man was Natalie's first.
    58. Carly's mission is to steer this company into the ground.
    59. mimbleton's favorite subject prefix.
    5A. Chewing this might help your babbling problem.
    5C. Programming language named after Lord Byron's daughter.
    5F. Dead drummer for CmdrTaco's favorite band, or ridiculous Liberal myth.
    61. Every Slashdotter's dream is to get one of these.
    62. The Firm that is spelling Armageddon for free speech on The Net.
    64. These networks are the beginning of Disorganized Crime.
    65. Shitty "bitch band" whose leader likes to bitch about the RIAA.
    66. The only Adequacy [] editor with a real PhD.
    67. I think 7 over 22 is both backwards AND wrong.
    68. Mentioning this droid (and others) is what is keeping you from getting laid.
    69. Two-letter country code for Oman.
    6A. Giving a ____ Necklace involves "coming" on Heidi Wall's bosom.
    6B. What people who can't afford Visual Studio use to search text files.
    6C. This hacker tool is often used to replace "characters" in "strings".
    6D. QueenTaco's maiden name.
    6E. The best text editor EVER!
    6F. The PDP-11 assembler that thinks it's a programming language.

    1. Taco thinks that a purchase of his publicly traded company's services is a ___.
    2. The self-centered Windows 9x release after 98SE.
    3. 3D Tamagotchi game designed by Peter Molyneux.
    4. A crippled Photoshop wannabe.
    5. Lock your penis bird in a cage to protect it from this text-outputting animal.
    6. Russian Geeks in Space.
    7. If your karma surpasses 25, you have this and a problem.
    8. Luckily, michael was born too late to join THIS party.
    9. If this Slashdot section's color scheme doesn't drive you away, Michael's snotty editorial remarks will.
    0A. Suffering cerebral palsy didn't stop him from becoming Surprised by Wealth.
    0B. The market leader in megahertz lies.
    0C. Statement used to declare variables in Visual Basic.
    0D. Media cartel dedicated to protecting Britney Spears from dirty hackers.
    10. Once the greatest Karma Whore ever, now a suicidal loser seen only on (33 Down).
    13. Game console that bankrupted its parent company because of hackers making free games for it.
    16. The only Unix understandable by non-geeks.
    18. (40 Down) likes his pages ____.
    19. Do many eyes make all bugs shallow, or do too many cooks spoil the broth?
    1C. Research? Linux? Software? Whatever!
    20. The first step towards failure for Linux companies.
    21. Every Slashdotter's duty (except those marked with (4B Across)).
    22. Apple's stylish new IP theft device.
    23. (43 Down)'s employer.
    24. A flaky Open-Source knockoff of (38 Across).
    26. ESR's birthday present to RMS.
    27. This primitive operating system denies any service to its users.
    29. Unique index for a particular piece of babble.
    2C. A tasty breakfast treat -- down your pants!
    2E. You hit this once you get 50 karma points.
    2F. This marketing guy troll sure is dumb!
    33. This site is decidedly not Slashdot.
    34. An easy way to lose all your karma is to offer your account for sale on this popular auction site.
    35. Unfortunately, this famous online Nazi's treatment of the Censorware Project [] wasn't just a game.
    36. Two-letter country code for the 51st state.
    37. A geek's computer is always __.
    39. ____, Lover, Aesthete, Programmer. There is no contradiction.
    3A. The XP makes it go faster!
    3E. The world's worst operating system!
    40. The only troll with a freaks list longer than JonKatz'.
    41. The OS all the cool people use now that Linux isn't trendy anymore.
    43. A top-flight IT consultant who somehow manages to find time in his busy schedule to post to Slashdot.
    45. What comes after as(1) and before strip(1) in the C build process.
    47. VA Software has the world's worst ___.
    48. This Senate bill comes closer to passing every time you go to see Lord of the Rings again.
    4A. Legalized child pornography.
    4F. What the Greeks went to Delphi for, Geeks go to this state for.
    51. The Hellmouth should've eaten you here.
    53. This rocker's battle against file-sharing networks won't end until he can Kill 'Em All.
    5A. This desktop environment kicks KDE's ass!
    5B. This modest and self-effacing troll was one of the first on Slashdot.
    5C. You'd have to think different to justify spending money on this company's overpriced products.
    5D. A game console which thought it was a full-featured computer system.
    5E. Cofounder of Chips 'n' Dips.
    5F. It may not have the best sound quality, but at least it's better than Ogg Vorbis.
    60. Preface for the 10% of Slashdot comments not prefaced with (3D Across).
    63. Apple stole all their ideas from this research group.
    64. Bye bye, miss USian ___, drove the Cruiser like some loser who starts posts with a *sigh* ...
    65. A dynamically updated list of the biggest losers on Slashdot.
    67. Standard programming language implemented by most high-end printers.
    6F. This language's lack of bounds checking is responsible for 90% of software security holes out there.


  • by SchmittHouse ( 532507 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:24PM (#3397687)
    ...or does the photo of the kids playing in the cul-de-sac outside the window look like a second-rate photoshop job worthy of The Onion []?

  • Of course technology can make money for you. However, using technology in the duplication of monetary bills is considered a crime ;-)
  • by ltsmash ( 569641 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:28PM (#3397718)

    The first section in the article discusses Jetblue Airways' efforts to allow employees to work at home. Half of the technology will actually allow an employee to work at home: phone lines to handle calls and dial into the booking system, Laptop computers, etc. On the flip side, the other half of the technology used by employers will make sure that telecommuters actually do work. While some of this is certainly justified, I wonder how far it will be pushed. The author makes practically no mention of this.

    Bottom Line: Office-technology is not all-good and wonderful. What about the increasing surveillance of employees? We need to hear about the bad parts too.

    • What about the increasing surveillance of employees? We need to hear about the bad parts too.

      The traditional way to make sure employees are working is to require them to go to work in an office, where you have managers to crack a whip over them. Do you actually feel that the deal JetBlue is offering its phone agents is worse than this?

      It only makes sense to monitor calls to ensure good customer service. Companies will monitor their phone agents even if they force the agents to work in an office. It isn't really any different from retail stores sending "secret shoppers" to shop anonymously at stores to make sure customers are being treated well.

      They have only 10% turnover rate. Their employees are happy.

    • On the flip side, the other half of the technology used by employers will make sure that telecommuters actually do work. While some of this is certainly justified, I wonder how far it will be pushed. The author makes practically no mention of this. [...] What about the increasing surveillance of employees? We need to hear about the bad parts too.

      Certainly you'd expect that companies would want accountability of their employees, don't you? I certainly couldn't understand what the problem would be with a company calling an employee to verify the quality of service provided. I'd even think they would consider taping calls of real customers, but the technology they are using probably doesn't allow that yet.

    • Where I work we have performance evals to see if the employee is meeting their objectives. In other words, if I work from home for a month, did I accomplish anything. Seems pretty simple, though this may not work for all types of jobs. And there are some jobs where telecommuting just doesn't work. Our help desk manager can't because she needs to be around to handle irrate walk-up customers (college) and keep the students in line.

      As for the increased surveillance, for most phone based customer service job, occasional listening in from a supervisor is a normal thing - to catch things like "JBS checking - penis give me your check number" (how friends in high school would answer the phone - if the other end asked what did you say, it'd then be "JBS checking - please give me your check number".)
    • Having worked for a travel company, in the same building as a call center with hundreds of reservation agents, I don't think there's that much need to actually monitor exactly what they're doing. Whatever computer system you're using probably keeps track of when they get call, when the call ends, and whether anything sells during their call (and if so, for how much). That information alone will tell you who's pulling their weight and who's slacking. And if - like many reservation agents - they're paid at least partly on a commission basis, the good ones will get paid more anyway.
  • While this would probably work, I know at my job we put a high price on the security of our information. (I.E. You can bring a personal notebook with you, but if you hook it up to the internal network you'll have the IT department on your ass.) If this involves customer accounts I would be very concerned that someone would be devulging personal information to outside sources as there is no way to truley monitor activity like this without a supervisor occasionally walking through, or other employees around to report unusual behavior. And what about those friendly children that might be more than happy to go play with Mom or Dad's company notebook and lose my resevations or payments. I'd feel better as a consumer knowing that my account was handled in an office enviroment rather than while the customer service rep is on the can.
    • Or even better-- if some 9-year old decides to download some random executable files (read Trojan horse) off the internet.

      Also, I don't even want to *think* what system administration would be like for this.

    • by rsatter ( 265340 )
      Jeez its called passwords to a mini/mainframe or agast a web based application. That can minimized unauthorized use by
      • requiring a login
      • user training to lock the computer or app when they step away
      • low time out on the app to lock it.
      • requiring an additional password for committing certain kinds of transactions.
      Most corps still require a password when starting an application because
      • You should never assume that the user at the other end is the user logged in.
      • Others with more or less access may need to use your computer for a variety of reasons
      • Because some bad person might just look for that open computer with no one at and pull up applications
      As a side note David Neeleman is responsible for ticketless travel and checkin kiosks. And who dragged Southwest screamming and kicking into ticketless. He is a very smart guy and so are the IT guys. I was in a meeting with him back in the mid 90's when he first proposed this exact setup. So I just would like to say way to go Dave.
      • Passwords sure as hell don't stop intentional disclosure of information, being around other people helps to though. You don't think companies would pay serious money for user habits, addresses, and phone numbers so that they can target their marketing? Got news for you, they do and disclosure of confidential material does happen. It could happen more in an uncontrolled enviroment.
    • I understand your concerns, but at the same time, I'm not sure if handling your account in an office environment vs. agents working from home is anything more than a false sense of security.

      While it's true you won't have kids potentially playing with the laptop computer at work, you still have employees opening virus-infected emails and executables, disgruntled workers stealing information or inserting bad data into databases on purpose, and other such possibilities.

      I know from working in I.T. administration myself, supervisors walking past isn't really going to save you from an employee bent on leaking out secure information. As long as the office has laser printers, it's pretty darn easy to crank off a print job in the background (minimized task or whatever) and print a whole slew of customer account records, sandwiched between a couple legitimate print jobs - and grab the whole stack off the printer.

      It still comes down to having to trust your employees.
  • by RalphTWaP ( 447267 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:30PM (#3397728)
    But, if you read the account, a bit of intellectual property made freely available by its creator is partly responsible for one success (the creator's own).

    The "Big Foot" mentioned in the snip from the article below is the technology:

    His solution: Big Foot, a 1,000-pound, pneumatically controlled, microprocessor-driven grape stomper. Big Foot and its three stainless feet move on a rail system above a dozen tanks, stomping each tank for about 20 minutes, two to three times a day, for about two weeks. "It's so perfect because these plunges are gentle and replicable, whether it's 7 in the morning or 10 at night," says Laurent Montalieu, the head wine maker. Lacroute won't patent Big Foot, preferring to give the specs away. The device is used in wineries in Washington, California and New Zealand.

    Now that, that I like, who says you can't make money if you give away your IP. And :) Since I vote with my checkbook (especially if it involves alcohol), I'm off to buy a bottle [].

    • You forgot to mention the fact that the guy was already very rich and semi-retired. Nowhere in the article does it mention making a profit on the devices- in fact, it's not even clear if he actually makes them or just hands the blueprints over. Looking up one of the wineries [] using the device the wording seems to indicate they built it themselves.

      It's easy to give away inventions when you can still have lobster and caviar (and good wine) for every meal.

  • by Kenja ( 541830 )
    Own a computer?
    Make Money Fast at home
    45,000$/yr pt - 100,000$/yr ft
    Call NOW!!!!
  • Another example of that thinking: Neeleman gives all JetBlue pilots and technicians a laptop computer so they can get procedure changes online from the FAA. That way, there's no chance they'll miss a memo

    So we'll have pilots playing quake in the cockpit, that doesn't sit well with me.
  • by BurritoWarrior ( 90481 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:33PM (#3397756)
    If you look at those varied companies, the underlying theme is not technology, but two words: Customer Service.

    If you listen to your customer's needs and wants, you will be successful most of the time. Bad service is the one thing that will drive me away from a company, even if the product/service they are selling is good. There are usually plenty of others selling "good stuff" too.
    • Bad service is the one thing that will drive me away from a company, even if the product/service they are selling is good.

      Exhibit A: RIAA []
      Exhibit B: MPAA []
    • If they gave damn about the customer they would let you turn those fucking TVs off. JetBlue is all bout shoving advertismets in your face (or getting you to pay an arm and a leg for worthless programming). I was on one of their early flights with the TVs where they gave you all the programming you wanted for free. It sucked and even with my barf bag attached firmly over the TV my head still hurt from off the other TVs in the plane. I will never ever fly JetBlue again.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wow, I love the irony in the section about Virgin Megastores and their kiosks, too bad they can't seem to add very well.
    Virgin's stores that allow customers to sample 30-second snippets from a database of approximately 250,000 CDs. The experiment began last year in two of the chain's outlets and was considered a huge success. ... "The biggest problem we have as a music retailer is that we sell a product that is shrink-wrapped," says de Jong. "You can look at it, smell it and see it, but not hear it."
    I mean, you wouldn't think that one reason people love to download MP3s is because they like to listen to albums before they purchase them? What a novel idea!
  • In the print copy, the section about the grape smasher mentions that he gave the IP away for free (BSD style). This is direcly oposite the .Net add section.

  • I wear two hats in that i'm a CAD/Systems Manager and a Job Captain for an architectural firm. I've also done that in the past. Lately with the advent of DSL many small business can allow internet access to the employees. Funny enough this has allows much retension because other small business that dont have it can't satisfy what many employees are nto used to. Believe it or not but having your own e-mail address means alot to people. also being able to check yrou bills and bank online.
  • a Target credit card embedded with a computer chip, using a card reader that the chain will provide free of charge.

    i wonder if this will provide some of the kind of unanticipated opportunities that the CueCat []did.
  • by malibucreek ( 253318 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @06:38PM (#3398127) Homepage
    Lo-Q is neat stuff. (I first heard about it here [].) The whole virtual queing thing is a hot IT topic in theme parks right now. Lo-Q is the most sophisticated system I've seen (Disney's FastPass is the system the public's seen the most, but it's pretty low-tech. Just stick your ticket in a slot and get a reservation time later in the day.)

    Yes, it sucks that they are trying to charge for it. But that's Six Flags for you. Always doing stuff on the cheap. I'd love to see a better company, like Universal, Disney or Busch, incorporate this technology. Still, I'd pay a few bucks for the child-locating feature.

    One pet peeve: It's always frustrating to see reporters blow simple facts in a story. The is no "Little Mermaid" ride at Universal, since "The Little Mermaid" is a Disney property. Makes you wonder what other "facts" the reporter got wrong. Grrrr.

  • to print your own of course! I was almost half hoping that's what this article was about.
  • Too Funny, give me about $100 per "Old PC" terminal with net access and a fresh download of Mandrake, multiply that by the # of stores add in some custom interface (front end GUI) and I bet I will come in at less than $1 Mil for their pricey $10 mil project.

  • by DA-MAN ( 17442 )
    >If a customer needs directions to another store, an employee can immediately link to Mapquest on the Internet.

    Peculiar, real men don't ask for directions!!!
  • I know of non-profit agencies where they wanted to be on the "Cutting Edge" of technology and bought into some bad plans. And being a non-profit they didn't have the IT staff to support it so that added to their consultancy costs.

    Other agencies are going on the Microsoft bandwagon which they think MS will guide them into the new millennium without fuss or overhead and reduced costs down the road... well I'll leave it at that.

    The right technology can be benefit. Too much of the wrong technology can be a detriment. Also without enough trained staff to take advantage of the technology it would be like a child care center installing Beowolf cluster and a T3.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva