30 Nov

Web services enable processing of customer returns in holiday season


"In a phased rollout, each of the 4,000 parcel centers will have Internet access to a Newgistics solution called ReturnValet. The ReturnValet interface at the parcel center connects to ValetWare, a standard Windows application, running over dialup or VPN, which connects to Spiegel’s order management, financial, and warehouse management systems using a Web services SOAP […] interface."

30 Nov

The Internet Under Siege

Lawrence Lessig:

"The environment of innovation on the original network will change according to the extent that cable becomes the primary mode of access to the Internet. Rather than a network that vests intelligence in the ends, the cable-dominated network will vest an increasing degree of intelligence within the network itself. And to the extent it does this, the network will increase the opportunity for strategic behavior in favor of some technologies and against others. An essential feature of neutrality at the code layer will have been compromised, reducing the opportunity for innovation worldwide."

26 Nov

Ex-ASP Ready To Meet The Demand


"Many software vendors sell analytical tools as part of larger software packages for managing transactions and other business processes related to direct sales or sales through distributors and dealers. But OneChannel is unique in its focus on analytics that help manufacturers monitor the accuracy of demand forecasts."

Considering how painful it can be to get "sales thru" and "sales out" data from the channel, this sounds interesting, especially for companies that push large inventories to their distributors and resellers. By relying on "sales in" only, you risk finding yourself into a information tunnel for lack of visibility on end-user demand. If the later fails to materialize, that usually leads to inventory write-offs or missed forecasts.
If that wasn’t clear and if you’re not familiar with channel sales: sales-in are sales to the channel, sales-thru occur within the channel (eg. from a distributor to a reseller) and sales-out reach customers.

26 Nov

Keyhole Earthviewer: augmented reality for business


"fuses high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery, elevation data, GPS coordinates, and overlay information about cities and businesses to deliver a streaming, 3D map of the entire globe."

You want to watch the demo movies of this application, and here’s the system’s architecture. Imagine when your optical nerves will be connected to the Internet. That’s another type of client to adapt rendering to. MSN might block you, calling you a daltonian when it’s obvious they can’t tell apart red from green, but I disgress. Of course you’ll need a braintop firewall (desktop firewall for your brain) to protect your eyeballs from frying because of saturated visual virii. Remember the Pong-like stuff from the eighties? Now imagine that stuck into your brain, overlayed on everything you’re looking at. Symantec might have to hire surgeons to handle critical cases.
Anyway, you’ll be able to retrieve a lot of additional useful data and project it on top of your vision. Knowing when to turn it off will be a challenge. And you’ll feel completely at a loss when the system is offline for maintenance (as in, "we’re broken and don’t have a clue when we’ll get the damn thing fixed"). Here’s an exercise for you: think about that today when you walk down the street, and tell me what kind of data you’d like to have in real time about your surroundings. I’ll post the good stuff here. And no, I’m not asking about the obvious stuff such as: "is she wearing a D cup?" (Olivier, that’s an offensive joke to do, bad oh bad). I want walking directions for a start.

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24 Nov

Is the weblog community a meritocracy?

I’m a bit tired of talks of a so-called A-List, a supposed group of weblogs accused of grabbing all the popularity and traffic. Wanna know about a real closed society? In France where I live, old powerful families (for you Americans: I’m not talking about just five generations, but hundreds of years) still bear a lot of weight, even in the supposedly egalitarian "republican" (sic, we’re in the banana business) system. Comparatively, the blog community is as open as one can get.
As a personal note, thanks to Matthew for the nice mention. I don’t get that much traffic, but I do have a few faithful readers that tell me they like what they find here, and that alone is worthwhile.

23 Nov

Everybody Wants to AOL

Dana Blankenhorn:

"Every company goes through distinct phases as it grows. The smallest companies are customer-focused. Mid-sized companies are often employee-focused, as they build their internal systems to handle more business. The largest companies are always financially-focused, caring nothing about people and everything about numbers. A simple exercise shows why this is necessary. Look down your street, then look at your city from its tallest building, and finally look out the window of an airplane. Describing and serving the world from 30,000 feet demands mathematics, while working with the people on your street demands a personal touch."

16 Nov

“Price Too Low to Show”?


"We occasionally offer items at a price below the manufacturer-determined minimum advertised price. When we do this, we cannot display the lower price on the Web site, though we can show it to you once you add the item to your Shopping Cart. Please be assured that simply adding an item to your cart does not obligate you to buy it–you can always delete it from your cart if you decide not to purchase it."

Ain’t that funny? I’m wondering whether price comparison bots know how to work around these silly policies.
12/17/01 update: Glenn Fleishman explains how co-op marketing budgets come with strings attached.