More good stuff on the open frontiers – 8/15

Just like the wild west in the late 1800s, the frontiers of publishing, technology, and energy are wide open. Here’s a few of the articles that stretched my understanding of this amazing world we live in. Just a brief comment on each.

Downside of technology

Yes, there is a downside.

7/30 – Yahoo – Drone Carrying contraband crashes at SC prison – Drone carrying cell phones, marijuana, synthetic marijuana (huh? what is that?), and tobacco crashed outside the fence of a prison. Article mentions a successful effort to get contraband inside a Georgia prison last year.

That is a superb smuggling technique. You gotta’ give credit to the creativity of the bad guys.

I am surprised that there hasn’t already been a flood of drones coming over the walls of most prisons. As a wild guess, the cost of a drone is probably less than the black-market value of what it could carry in. Risk to the person flying the drone is rather small; reward to the person inside is really high.

8/1 – The Guardian – Rise of the drones has police and regulators scrambling to catch up  – General background. Popularity is spreading with increased awareness. A popular, quite capable drone is available for $500. Add a high quality camera increases cost to $1,300. Police and regulators are trying to catch up. The FAA has holding regs that prohibit flying above 400 feet and bans for-profit use of drones. Those regs are not only confusing but are starting to get struck down by courts.


8/13 – Flashbak – 6 Common Sounds of Yesteryear We No Longer Hear – Check out the list. Dial up modem is another.


7/3 – TechDirt – One-Percent Authors Want to End Destructive Conflict, Bring Order to the Galaxy The big-name authors who are with the publisher Hachette are complaining about Amazon. There is a big dispute between the publisher and retailer. From what I can gather, Hachette wants consumers to pay higher prices while Amazon wants us to pay less.

Oh, the horror! A retailer trying to provide products their customers want at lower prices! Inexcusable!

The Tech Dirt article goes into more detail but with the same theme: Amazon wants to give you and me lower prices on the books we buy.  For a great explanation of how astounding Amazon is, check out this summary:

One day, historians and psychologists might manage to explain how various authors came to fear and revile a company that has sold more books than anyone in history; that pays authors up to nearly six times the royalties of the New York “Big Five” lockstep rate; that single-handedly created the ebook and self-publishing markets; that offers more choice and better prices to more readers than anyone ever has before; and that consistently ranks as one of the world’s most admired companies.

For full explanation, check out the article.

8/10 – New York Times – Print Is Down, and Now Out – Within a week, Gannet, Tribune Company, and E.W. Scripps spun off their newspapers into new companies. Reason is the papers, even profitable ones, aren’t growing and thus are a drag on the former parent’s bottom line and cut against market expectations of growth.

Article points out several economic truths: companies need to either produce growth or steady positive cash flow to reward investors. That means holding a low-growth, cash-flow operation in a growth company produces confusion. Spinning off the (hopefully) positive cash flow papers from the growth divisions will create more value for stockholders.

Even strong media outlets, such as the WSJ and NYT, are facing pressure from investors, according to the article.

Author closes by pointing out a healthy free-market economy reallocates resources from less productive to more productive uses. That’s called creative destruction. Article points to Kodak, Blockbuster, and makers of PCs as examples. Also, check out IBM, which is now an IT service provider instead of manufacturer of mainframe and PC computers and provider of PC software. Remember when you had to choose between loading MS-DOS and PC-DOS on your new computer before you could use it?


7/4 – World Oil – U.S. seen as biggest oil producer after overtaking Saudi Arabia – In the first six months of the year, the largest producer of crude oil and natural gas liquids is the U.S.  Total output surpasses Saudi Arabia and Russia. The reason? Soaring production in Texas and North Dakota.

7/11 – Rigzone – Energy Industry Fueling Job Growth, Cutting Unemployment  – Editorial provides survey of the huge job growth from unconventional energy that is spreading job growth across the country. Great background on the energy boom, the opportunities for many people to get into the industry, the overhyped risks, and the long-term potential. Four years ago this would have been astoundingly eye-opening for me. Now it is old fabulous news. The benefit to the entire country (and the world) is huge.

7/14 – Rigzone – The Real Shale Revolution – Another superb background article. Focus is on history of horizontal drilling.  Three years ago this would have been eye-popping for me. Now, it is just one more in a long string of deep-background articles that explain why the energy frontier is wide open. Check it out.

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