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Thursday,  03/10/16  11:20 PM

Have you ever had a day when you were looking forward to working on something, but you had a bunch of meetings and calls and other things which were more urgent to do first?  And you fought your way through all that, and then finally started working on the thing, but then discovered it was harder and less elegant than you thought?  And you ended up all disappointed and frustrated?  Well I just did :(  Maybe I can blog my way out of it...

This is pretty interesting: Amazon leases planes to take greater control of shipping and delivery costs.  I was just emailing with my longtime reader and commentator Marc Cote about this...  he noted: 

 "I was speaking with someone about it; they could not believe Amazon would do that. I said that obviously Amazon/Bezos thinks like I do, I usually believe that with the right knowledge it is easier, cheaper, and more effective to own a process than not. And Amazon is definitely large enough to own this process. UPS and Fed-Ex are going to feel this one in their wallets a little further down the line."

I think he's right.  It’s kind of weird because the conventional wisdom is that a company does something in-house if they have a competitive advantage in doing so, and outsources the things other people do better. For most companies “things other people do better” is a big category and they stay focused. But Amazon seem to take on anything and do it well.

I can remember not so long ago it was funny to think that an online book and movie site would create their own hosting infrastructure. Why not just outsource to someone else? But they have now become the people who do it better, and the whole world is hosted on Amazon. Who knows maybe they will end up in the freight business, would not be surprised if they are better and cheaper than UPS and FedEx.  In the meantime, we all get cheaper and faster shipping!

Meanwhile: Walmart's customers are too broke to shop.  This article describes a "perfect storm" for America's largest retailer, in which revenue is flat due to lower customer spending, and pricing is held down by online competition like Amazon.  Other negative factors include rising minimum wages.  I'm kind of worried about this, Walmart is a bellwether for a big part of our economy. 

The follow on effect of this is bad for poor areas; people can't spend as much, Walmart has to raise wages so they hire fewer people, so those people can't spend as much, and Walmart closes stores in those areas, so those people lose a big local store with lots of stuff at bargain prices.  One of the most insidious examples where government "help" hurts the very people they're trying to help.

I meant to share this before, this seems like a perfect time: 

I find that minimum wage is a perfect litmus test for whether I can have a conversation with someone about the economy.  If they don't understand that a minimum wage law hurts poor people, then it will be hopeless.

Speaking of really bad ideas, Microsoft starts testing advertising inside Windows 10.  Add that to the long list of reasons not to upgrade from Windows 7.  Honestly I don't know what these people think. 

Department of recursion: The link above is to Forbes' website, which now features a lockout if you are running an ad blocker.  (Add that the list of reasons not to visit Forbes website.)

Here's something you might find interesting: A nice introduction to containers, VMs, and Docker.  Just in case you, like me, were wondering what all the fuss is about. 

I have been working with a client who are using Docker, and I must tell you so far I'm underwhelmed.  The theoretical ease-of-use and performance benefits seems to be swallowed up by the complexity, especially when it comes to device support and networking.  Onward.

And here's something cooler than the other side of a pillow: A flower parade in the Netherlands featuring floats inspired by Van Gogh.  Some people have too much time on their hands, and I am so very glad they do!