Miscellaneous and Useless Information

Business and economy

Get a load of this: earlier this month, the Royal Canadian Mint introduced a gold coin with a face value of C$1 million. It’s 99.999% pure gold and weighs 100 kilograms, or 45 pounds 220 pounds.

Another chapter in the long story of corporate rebranding: a couple of weeks ago the Travelers insurance company regained its iconic red umbrella logo after its former parent Citigroup decided to stop using it and sell it back. How did Travelers loseWeight Exercise it in the first place? Here’s a nifty diagram I put together, starting with the 1998 merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group to form Citigroup:

Timeline of the Travelers logo

By the way, if you haven’t noticed before, you can see where Citi’s red arc logo comes from. The red arc with the “t” kinda looks like an umbrella

    1. China Airlines: Taiwan
    2. Air China
    1. China National Petroleum Corporation
    2. Chinese Petroleum Corporation: Taiwan (now called CPC Corporation, Taiwan)
    1. China Post
    2. Chunghwa Post (chunghwa means “Chinese”): Taiwan (now called Taiwan Post)
    1. China State Shipbuilding Corporation
    2. China Shipbuilding Corporation: Taiwan (now called CSBC Corporation, Taiwan)
    1. Central Bank of China: Taiwan (now called the Central Bank of the Republic of China)
    2. People’s Bank of China

I thought five editions of Windows Vista was a bit much, but then I saw that there are eight editions of Office 2007. Take a look at the comparison matrix from Microsoft’s web site:

There are holes where you wouldn’t expect*, and there is no single edition that contains every Office program. Office Ultimate lacks one program — how is that “ultimate”? I understand the theory of market segmentation, but there’s also the reality of human confusion.

* In one way, it’s not quite as strange as it first appears — for example, Office Professional doesn’t come with Outlook, but it does come with Outlook with Business Contact Manager. But still…

Today is Election Day in the U.S., and I’m reminded of a funny thing I saw on CNBC last Friday. Morning Call hosted two economists, one from the AFL-CIO labor union, and the other from the libertarian Cato Institute. Surprisingly, they both agreed that a Democratic majority in Congress would improve the economy.

The AFL-CIO economist said that Democrats would fight to increase the minimum wage (which studies have shown do not significantly increase unemployment) and would allow Bush’s tax cuts, which the country can’t afford, to expire. The Cato economist said that a Democratic Congress would split the government, introducing gridlock and preventing the government from enacting dumb policies. He pointed out that since World War II, government spending has grown the fastest when the same party controlled both the Congress and White House: LBJ, Jimmy Carter, and George W. Bush.

So if you want to vote with your wallet, vote Democrat!

Soon after I started working, I noticed I was even less physically active than as a computer science grad student (which is saying something), and I’ve dreamt of putting a treadmill in my office and walking while I worked.

Not surprisingly, I’m not the only one with this brilliant idea: Dr. James Levine at the Mayo Clinic and his team have created a workstation combining a treadmill, desk, and computer. At 1 mph, it’s not enough to break a sweat, but it is enough to burn an extra 100 calories an hour, or, at 10 hours per day, more than 50 pounds a year.

I’ve blogged previously about IBM software getting snappier names (e.g., Sametime->”Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing”->Sametime). Looks like this philosophy is slowly spreading. For example, take a look at this name evolution:

It also shows a renewed emphasis on the Lotus brand, a promising sign.

Updated August 5, 2006: I’ve found a new way to reach a BofA customer representative, at least in California:

  • Call 1-800-622-8731, which is listed in the BofA’s Contact Us page.
  • Press 1 for more options, then press *.

I’ve removed the old information, since it just seemed to be confusing people.

Kepler's Books in Menlo Park may have barely survived, but other venerable indies are hurting. The main Cody's Books store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley is closing. I have fond memories browsing through (and even buying!) books there. Although its two smaller stores will remain open, this hurts.

The management of a technology company realized they didn't and couldn't know all the great ideas within the company. So they set up a marketplace, where ideas become stocks and employees can buy and sell shares in them. The more valuable the idea, the more valuable the stock.

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