Burning down the house

Finally, after 2+ years of planning, the renovation or our house started, the whole family moved out and the first container arrived in front of our house:

After less than a day, it was full and trucked out.  Makes you wonder how much 35+ year old junk we had in our house 🙂  The old fire-place in our living room had to go too:

One of the effects now is that with the dissapearance of a few walls you can now see through the house from the front door into the old kitchen. (soon storage space)

Wish us luck.  5 containers got filled so far (after one week) and we have a few more to go.

Until next time,
Matt

Pentaho and the iPhone

Today we announced that Pentaho can deliver BI solutions to the iPhoneWill Gorman & the rest of the team at Pentaho again did a great job here!

The announcement is great news for all those people that have one … or can buy one.

Until Friday, that excluded myself.  In Belgium there is a law against “coupled sales” of goods.  That means that you can not sell an iPhone together with a contract.  The same is true for a number of other European countries by the way.  The minute an operator would try to sell the iPhone exclusively with a contract, the other operators would go to court and win too. As a result of this law, most if not all phones are sold in Belgium without a contract and 100% of the phones are usable on all our networks.

This issue has led to the fact that Apple didn’t even bother to sell an iPhone in Belgium.  This in turn made our minister of enterprises Vincent Van Quickenborne angry. (Minister “Q” for his friends and voters)  So far, “Q” has been mostly known for failing to simplify the administration in Belgium.

Now, he is angry because he feels like it was such a shame that Apple “was unable” to launch the iPhone in Belgium previously because of the coupled sales law.  Things would be so much better without that law, people would be able to get their hands on various technological gadgets for very cheap prices.

Obviously this is not true.  Let’s compare prices shall we.  The minimum contract for an iPhone in the US is $70/month for 2 years.  That will set you back at least $200 for the phone and $1880 for the contract at a minimum. That’s in total a whopping $2080.

In Belgium, the price for the same iPhone is set at 525 EURO or $820.  You will still have to buy a contract but in fact you are free to do as you please.  If you just want to toy with it on your own Wifi at home and use it as an otherwise regular phone/iPod/picture viewer/whatever, you’re free to do so.  That itself can cost you from next to nothing with pre-paid cards to a lot more than the $52,5/month remaining.

Please note that I explicitly left out the data ($30) or text plans ($5) that AT&T has to offer that can crank up the cost tremendously ($2600, $2720).

Now, how many people would pony up the >$2000 if they had a big warning on the box, in the store or on the website?

Warning, will cost at least $1000 per year!

Exactly!  My feeling is that by charging for the actual price of the device instead of allowing people to get lured into all kinds of shady contracts, costs are probably lower for the customer on average!

In short, I think “Q” is dead wrong and full of it.  He would do better to investigate the ever ongoing and prevailing illegal coupled sales of Microsoft Windows and computers.

Until next time,
Matt

P.S. All this still doesn’t mean I’m going to buy one of these overpriced gadgets, but I just might. 🙂

Benchmarking and gas mileage

My sister Rein helped start a company called Drivolution that trains drivers to lower their fuel consumption as well as help reduce the chance of accidents.  Drivolution does this primarily for large corporations with big-ish fleets.  On average I’m told the results in cost savings can be dramatic.

Over the weekend we talked about the most recent news that a consumer organisation in Belgium figured out that the gas mileage of cars was always 20 to 30% more than advertised by their constructors.   My sister then claimed that through training she was now capable of driving around with a fuel consumption as advertised.  (20-30% lower as before)

This conversation came days after the “Top Gear Prius vs BMW M3” test in which they concluded that a BMW M3 can consume less fuel than a Toyota Prius … in certain conditions:

The guys from Top Gear are right, you can make a big difference in both directions depending on the driving style and conditions.  The things I take away from all this :

  1. Lies, damned lies and benchmarks : blanket statements are useless without the proper context.  That’s the case for almost all the numbers that we deal with every day.  People in ICT generally know this, but it’s true outside of computing as well.
  2. Use the best tool for the job : don’t go racing with a Prius and don’t try to save on fuel with an M3.  Again, the same applies in computing.
  3. It *is* very possible to lower your gas mileage dramatically
  4. Drivolution (and e-positief) seems to deserve to be riding on a wave of success 🙂

Until next time,
Matt