Sunday, January 13, 2013

The greed model

(Note to the Customer Support person: Please pass this on to Administration. They need a little perspective. Thanks.)

You are kind of stupid, aren't you. It's understandable that you're not in this business to provide a free service. We understand that. But requiring that I subscribe in order to read emails/messages sent to me by subscribers? When you display ads on my screen, you are making money. If I were able to read emails/messages without being a subscriber, you would still be making money from the ads displayed on those screens. But almost every click on your site takes me to a page that says "Subscribe!" The fact that you provide so few features to non-subscribers indicates that you're trying to squeeze every penny out of the user. I wonder if you even display ads on subscribers' screens. Do you? The main purpose of a subscription is to have access to features without annoying ads on the screen. Which means that a non-subscriber could have access to those features with ads appearing on the screen, and would still make money. Didn't start out with that business model? But since then has gradually reduced the number of features available to non-subscribers? It's to the point now that a free account serves no purpose; almost no features are available. But you still make money from the ads displayed on non-subscribers' screens. Did you catch that? You still make money from the ads displayed on non-subscribers' screens. Since that revenue isn't enough for you, I won't be subscribing. Up to $40 a month? For what? On top of your not making money from my subscription, you also won't be making money from ads being displayed on pages that I would otherwise view. So, as a result, you are making less money now than you would if you provided features to non-subscribers. You lose ad revenue every time I don't view a page that I otherwise would. And I doubt I'm the only one put off by your greed. A potential user doesn't view any pages, and so no ads are displayed on those pages that are not viewed, and so no revenue is generated by either subscription or page views, multiplied times how many potential users? I'm fine with not viewing any of your pages, I lose nothing. But for you it represents a money leak—revenue lost because that revenue isn't enough for you. But the lost revenue doesn't amount to 0. It adds up to negative numbers.

[A note I sent to Customer Support at]

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Prepare to think

The Talpiot Find challenges and entertains the reader with its offbeat approach to the familiar archaeological-find-rewrites-history theme. Readers will confront the Big Questions in a calm, no-big-deal atmosphere and will find themselves musing more than once “I never thought of it that way before.” While following the thought-journey of a very likable protagonist with a bias for humor and irony, readers will explore whether their own world-view is based on a need for comfort and feeling useful, or on a desire for everything to make sense. Whether any change should be introduced to the world-view is left for the reader to decide, but by the end of the book the reader will have more information and ideas to work with in their experience of the everyday world.

Grad-student Marc isn’t hoping for a spectacular archaeological discovery to catapult his career right from the start. He just wants to graduate. His assignment on this dig site in the Talpiot district of Jerusalem, near the alleged Jesus ossuary tomb, hardly seems likely to produce anything of note, much less spectacular. An ancient garbage pit had been discovered the previous summer while the dig team excavated a twelfth-century well. Marc is now down in the well methodically uncovering unexceptional pottery sherds and animal bones thrown out with the rest of the scraps from meal preparations twenty-six centuries ago. But then he finds a human skeleton. When the human bones turn out to be as old as the rubbish around them, the archaeologists wonder if the person, apparently dumped into the pit, was a murder victim. And then he finds clay tablets, right next to the skeleton, carbon-dated to the same time frame as the skeleton and the surrounding trash. The tablets turn out to be an interesting find, a portion of Torah written in ancient Hebrew Canaanite, seventh century BCE. Are they related at all to the skeleton, and the murder? Or is their location coincidental? What are the tablets doing in a garbage pit? Bearing the tetragrammaton, they should've been placed in a genizah. Why were they discarded? In a garbage pit? Near a corpse? Of a murder victim?