919 Brick & Mortar.

In the next 48 hours my host is going to upgrade the server Between Failures exists on. This may result in some down time, but it’s not clear exactly when or how long. I have always known their estimates to be on the optimistic side. With luck the my service will resume without incident. If you notice any problems please feel free to bring them to my attentions by whatever means pleases you best.

When I started this story things were already starting to fall apart for the physical stores of America. It’s been a long, grim, slide. The fact of the matter is that brick & mortar stores are not going away, they just can’t continue functioning with the same level of greed and disregard for the customer anymore, and that is hurting a lot of people who are in charge of things. That hurt gets transfered to the people on the floor, and the cycle continues. A crash needs to come. People need to be destroyed. When a system becomes too corrupt to repair violent change has to occur. From the ashes of that conflict will rise the new leaders. People who understand how to make a store work will appear, and bring on another golden age of commerce. Unfortunately in a few decades they will pass on, and the people under them will not understand how to lead and the cycle will begin anew. No, that’s not quite correct… the cycle will continue as it always has and always will.

Wal-Mart, for example, began to fall apart with the death of its founder. It rebounded while his son was in control, but his untimely death left people in charge unfit to lead. My father refers to all of these types as “bean counters”. Literally that means accountants, but it sort of means people who lead fofficescies far from where the actual work goes on. You can’t run a business that way;committeeitee. Not forever. Some things require a king or a tyrant to function. If you want to watch it happening in the early stages then keep an eye on Apple. They will begin to falter now that Steve jobs is dead. Everyone knows this if they admit it or not. Without a leader the company will fall into the hands of investors, accountants, or what have you, and it will fail. That doesn’t mean that it will disappear, but it will struggle until someone rises up who can wrangle all the jackasses and rule with an iron fist again.

In other news, I have decided to embrace the digital age and begin purchasing manga legally by means of various ereader applications. I simply can’t spare the room for shelf upon shelf of books anymore. Bleach has been rambling on with little resolution in sight, and Naruto seems to be building towards some sort of reconing that may take who knows how many more volumes. I don’t even know what’s up with One Piece since you can’t buy it anywhere around here. Everything I read that’s not produced by Viz has either stopped printing or the licences haven’t been renewed.

Unfortunately some content providers still haven’t quite worked out how to make a decent reading application. They are unintentionally hurting the overall idea fo the digital book, but such are the growing pains the industry must face. The Viz reader is of sufficuent quality that I can read it without having to zoom or fiddle with stuff, and it loads pages quickly. Not that I read particularly fast, but as I turn a page it’s right there and I don’t have to wait. Some readers do have this problem.

A digital copy of a collection is about $3 cheaper than a physical copy. Which leads me to belive that the actual cost of materials is very low from producing in bulk, or that the company is gouging readers because they can. For the time being I’m going with the more positive explanation. It seems to me, however, that if a person buys the digital copy they should at least be offered a significant discount for the physical media. As previously stated I don’t want them, but the offer should be there. You’ve alreadt bought the most important part of the book, the content itself. After that you’re just arguing over the cost of materials. which apperently comes to about $3.

For the record, my first actual digital purchase was Hikaru No Go volume 1. I have no idea why I am mezmerized by a comic about people playing A BOARD GAME, but I am. It’s just more evidence that the Japanese can make even the most pedestrian tasks entertaining.


This has always bugged me, but are those two’s hair actually brown and black or is that just a serious case of shadowing going on there?

It’s just stylistic choice. In reality the colors would go from lighter shades to very dark versions of the same shades of color. Sometimes, when I have extra time to mess with pages,I actually render them that way.

It’s they same stylistic choice that gives Superman blue highlights to his black hair~

Truly black hair does reflect blue. That’s how you tell if someone has actual black hair or very dark brown in real life.

On Retail:

It is interesting to see what Ron Johnson is doing at JCPenney. Johnson is the former head of retail at Apple , and since November 2011 has been the CEO of JCP. Apple is the most successful retailer in the US, by several times over next most successful, when measured by sales/square foot of store. A lot of that was due to Johnson.

For that matter, a number of other former Apple execs have left to start or join other ventures. Shall be interesting to see how those fare.

I work at JCP right now, and it’s been really interesting. some of the ideas are good, but they’re still cutting people left and right. I suppose we’re still in the “deconstruct” phase. but nobody really knows what’s going to happen at this point. Some of the customers are really not liking it, because JCP has been around for a while and their customer base is a bit older and are used to specific things, unlike Apple’s.

I don’t know about how it works with e-readers or tablets, but I like reading on my computer when it comes to comics. If you have to download them, .cbr/.cbz files are pretty decent, but as far as I know, nobody actually sells these files. Marvel and DC at least would prefer that you use their online reader than be able to download what you bought.

I think brick & mortar are going away. There’s a grocery chain in Korea that allows people to shop from their smartphones with these panels with QRcodes in subway stations, and then delivers the goods to them that afternoon, and it’s doing really *really* well.


Truth is that, compared to a warehouse, a sales floor is a lot of wasted space… less money for movement would be involved if they were distributors instead of actual retail stores. Or like the automated systems here and there, like Redbox being the replacement for Blockbuster, etc.

I mean, I like the guys at my gamestop, they’re probably the people I know best where I live (I have no friends locally, gamestop’s less than a block from my house…), but if I could pay half price for games I wouldn’t worry half as much if I didn’t have to deal with displays and screaming kids and people guffawing over the latest shit military shooter…

I think that half-delivery (ala Tesco) and half-instant-gratification-automated (ala Redbox) is most likely going to be the next wave of “retail”. Then again, I’m designing a fridge that tracks its stock and re-orders food to keep it full, so who knows?

Yet super markets like Wegmans, Whole Foods, Trade Joes, etc. have a fanatical following.

I think it’s less than stellar retailers that are at risk.

I’ve never been to a Whole Foods I like… I love Mod-Friendly places, I do, like Tokyo Joes here in Denver is absolutely awesome, but every wholefoods I’ve been to is filled with hipsters and condescending assholes who scoff at my cybernetics.

Not in the slightest, that fridge was the base for my designs: Mine’s cheaper, can stock itself (the one you linked requires you to scan things in), and eventually be able to cook the food as well.

I already have one that, for half that price, can stock itself and the surrounding cabinets out of the boxes that my food’s shipped in.

Fully automated kitchen, by the time I’m done with it

In terms of brick & mortar; I am especially surprised that the store featured in the story hasn’t closed yet (though I can’t remember what your timeframe is for the story…). I mean, if I’m not mistaken, this store is like Media Play or Suncoast, right? Those poor things died a good while ago. I can’t even think of any other store that provides the same products that they did (Best Buy is similar, but not the same). I miss ’em.

The retail observation is a very interesting one. Between Apple and Amazon, they’ve obliterated the recording industry, the publishing industry, the gaming industry and most “brick and mortar” places that handles everything from electronics to foods (see Best Buy, Circuit City, Hastings and Borders. Barnes and Noble and Fry’s Electronics: You’re Next.). Having a centralized megawearhouse to hold everything or just save electronic version of games, songs, and so on has really killed these companies on the field and in the stock market.

I think there are other factors that are hasting the demise of the Wal-Marts of the world, too. Malls are dying, but the open-air “strip” malls where there’s not one single attraction that tries to pull you into the inside malls are doing well. Companies like Bed, Bath and Beyond where they try to sell what Amazon doesn’t sell may do well. I probably get more computer games from Steam or download directly from the publisher now than I do buy going to a GameStop (that’s also dying).

It will be really interesting to see in, say, ten years time as the slaughter continues which industries will emerge from this economic wildfire. My hunch is it will be some combination of mom and pop stores, larger “small” businesses and nimbler corporations.

Yes, when I first tried to check the page early this morning, I got a not-available message. If anything, now it seems faster than previously.

Target has evicted the Amazon.com Kindle and all of its accessories. Amazon has a iPhone app that allowed the user to scan a bar code and find the same product (Ā¢heaper) at other stores. It’s open war, folks.

So what eReader and app are you using? I’m waiting for Viz to bring out Inuyasha (yeah, I’m weird, but I love Rumiko Takahashi’s work) in digital format, but I’m not holding my breath. And yes, the content providers are indeed gouging for the material — some eBooks cost more than paperbacks — and good luck trying to trade ’em in at a used book store. That’s a rip-off!

Excellent view of retail and business as a whole. Somebody who’s spent time in the pits and isn’t afraid to crack skulls is necessary to cut out the dead wood and force innovation from time to time since those already taking home a nice paycheck are positively phobic of change. The problem is that this phenomenon is so rare. People already in power are ill-inclined to let an outsider into the fold, and for a person to actually be able to take charge he’s either gotta be bulletproof or have absolutely nothing left to lose.

The public tolerates unfair, unethical, or just plain terrible business practices for much the same reason high-ranking executives employ them: fear of change. As intelligent as an individual may be, put him in a group and suddenly his behavior changes markedly, often for the worse because he feels he’s not accountable for his words and actions and can rely on others to do his work for him. So, for that reason, there’s not likely going to be societal change from that quarter until such time as people are so down and out that they would lose nothing by violent reprisal.

As regards to changing business practices, I think dwindling resources will change the working landscape. Grocers in particular, but other stores often claim that it is the rising cost of transporting goods from their distribution centers to local offices that are to blame for the jumps in prices. While I imagine that’s only partly the case, as it also serves as an excellent excuse to get a little profiteering in, if nation-wide transportation is no longer a viable option, what we may begin to see is the resurgence of long-dead local institutions. Butcher shops, bakeries, tailor shops, and other grass-roots stores that employ a decentralized business model utilizing local products only would be able to undercut the larger chains because they’re shipping something a few miles as opposed to a few thousand miles. Our country has always been a car culture. Unlike many smaller nations, motor vehicles are not a luxury, they are a necessity. And the lack of affordable fuel will ultimately destroy whatever interconnection this country’s major population and business centers once had. I’m not trying to overdramatize things, but it puts me in mind of the rule of city-states.

As gasoline becomes more expensive, the automobile companies’ phasing in of hybrids & electrics will accelerate along with introducing hydrogen-cell vehicles. But the cost will be higher and the never-ending cycle of needing higher-paying jobs for higher expenses will continue. Industry will ironically turn more to rail freight, a seemingly archaic mode, but it is far more efficient than long distance trucking. Trucking companies will be wise to focus on short haul distribution center to market trips rather than long distance distribution center to distribution center. Transportation will evolve.

PRTs are already starting to get some traction in England and are being looked at in a number of other places, and yeah, mag-lev freight is an idea at least a few companies are looking at, especially as prices for gas continue to rise and efficiency is improving so much (19% in the past two years or some such).

Both good thoughts. Mag lev freight makes a certain amount of sense, but it still limits the availability of goods it can carry to areas directly surrounding the mag lev lines. Towns and cities with no direct access will die out while new ones will flourish, but that won’t happen without alot of fighting from prominent businesses and businessmen who stand to lose a great deal from this geographical change in distribution lines.

I have been following the engineering of hydrogen-fueled cars in several Israeli universities with interest. Two models caught my eye. The first actually produces its own hydrogen through the use of a solid chemical catalyst which breaks down water into its component atoms. The other does the same by electrolyzing water in a holding tank. Prototypes of these have been built and tested for up to two years now, but every time someone tries to apply these patents to cars in the US, major oil interests immediately block it citing the EPA hasn’t studied the long-term effects of hydrogen-powered vehicles for it to be safe. Since hydrogen-powered cars are already available in the US, this citation is preposterous, but the years of red tape it’s creating is still achieving what oil companies want.

Basically, gas is going to go down swinging, and it may break our economy before it finally throws in the towel. Also, the current hydrogen powered cars available on the market really don’t get away from fossil fuel reliance since the most common way to obtain hydrogen is to break it down from natural gas (that stuff that’s supposedly causing all sorts of terrible damage to the environment by frakking). While hydrogen could be a good long-term source of energy, technology exists which could make it cheap and abundantly available. And since that doesn’t make anyone any money, no on in a position to actually implement this new tech will dare.

One could argue that mag-lev is cheap enough to cross the country, and towns would spring up where needed. The idea of mag-lev is split by the idea for PRT systems, which would carry goods from major ley-lines to and from warehouses and other places (A full-function PRT system could easily replace cars and delivery services for cities and suburbs… most people who like living in the boonies would get to keep their trees and land, to boot).

Largely have to agree… this is why I didn’t bother with college and am self-studying. It’s also why countries that have high taxes and good welfare statuses have higher levels of corporate innovation: More people who are able to leave their job to do what they think is right.

Ten years ago I would’ve said that self-studying was foolish. But I’ve got two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s and I can’t hold down a job and don’t have the skills necessary to advance myself. So, if you know what you need to learn to do what you want to do with your life, and you’ve got the drive to make it happen, more power to you.

I wish more people supported me with the evidence you yourself have. Thanks for your support ^__^

I’m doing a lot of stuff that doesn’t really have courses, to boot, advanced automation and cybernetics… the only cybernetics courses that exist are in Canada (Steve Mann) and… Spain? Italy? Something like that.

That’s only because Hikaru no Go is just all types of amazing considering it’s a comic about not much more than the Japanese equivalent of chess. ouo

I love Hikaru No Go. I picked it up one day at my local library because I had read everything else they had. It really surprised me how interesting it was.

I have resisted getting an e-reader because the books are not that much cheaper than a new physical copy and I buy a lot of my books at half price, so that means most e-books are more expensive than my physical books. I really appreciate having a physical book and being able to take the time reading something away from technology. If e-books ever drop significantly in price then I will be much more tempted to go digital. That or if I start traveling a lot more than I do.

The thing about physical books vs ebooks is the psysical books cost them a certain amount to print and ship per book, while an ebook costs a flat amount to create the original file, then just a small, relatively constant, amount over time to keep the servers up. It costs them nothing to actually give you an ebook, since the server is just sending you a copy.

For this reason, I try to buy physical media whenever possible. I also prefer the permanace, and specifically for books, I enjoy the tactile experience.

Also, often, when you buy digital only media, you actually only buy a license to use the product, and the company can take it away without warning.

That being said, I occasionally buy XBL DLC.

These are reasons I prefer digital copies, heh. I very much prefer being able to have a book pass in front of my eye as I read it and not have to turn pages or worry about breaking spines. I have OCD qualities in some things, and mint-condition is one of them, so YMMV, of course.

I like physical copies of games purely because I like showing off a rack full of them, it makes me feel good, and I’m willing to pay the money for that benefit. That being said, I *am* aware of it, but I can’t decide if that makes it better or worse…

I don’t know if it’s bean counters that took over Wal-Mart. I mean, bean counters wouldn’t have made such a devious plan for the company. Wal-Mart is run by soulless corporate villains. With a plan to rip and tear through the economy for small gains, they represent the worst retail has to offer. We’re talking about a company that doesn’t care when their product is literally produced through slave labour.

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