Monday, February 8, 2010

It's all in a name, or is it?

In one of my MBA classes, we did a case study on RadioShack. The basis of the case study was that the name "RadioShack" is dated and that modern consumers can't relate to the store's name. Thus, there has been big marketing push to rebrand themselves as "The Shack" and eventually, store fronts may even have "The Shack" signage and the radio term will be completely gone. However, in my dealingss with RadioShack last week, the problems are much, much deeper than the name. MBA students will also tell you that it is important to have a clear mission statement and business definition that defines who you are and what you do. This is clearly lacking at RadioShack. After calling all 4 store locations in my area, I was quite confused as to what they even sold. I was under the impression that I could get consumer electronics and hard to find electronic parts, adapters, etc. However, I couldn't even find a store associate on the phone who could tell me whether or not they sold a network card for a PC. In fact, at one store, the associate was so bad, he didn't even know what a PC was, much less a network card and began trying to sell me a cell phone. I asked him if there was anyone there who I could talk to instead who might know something about technology and he said no. Let me clarify, there is no one who works at that RadioShack who knows anything about technology. And he was right, I talked to his store manager and he was also clueless. Finally, I found someone at a different store who said that they did have a network card for a PC, so I proceeded further into asking about the card as I needed it to have a PCI-Express interface, because my PCI slot was already being used. She assured me that it was a PCI-Express. However, when I got to the store, it was USB. I've never actually had anyone confuse a USB interface with a PCI-Express one before. In short, I came away from my experience with RadioShack frustrated and bewildered. I will admit, the USB interface card did work out for me because there ended up being Debian Linux drivers for it and there were none for any Intel PCI-Express card that I found. However, the experience certainly solidified for me that RadioShack's problems are much more than their name and I'm no investor, but I'd steer clear of their stock if I were you because the future can't be bright. However, if you are in the market for a cell phone or maybe women's hats or dresses, they may be able to help you, actually, I'm not sure, I don't really know what they sell there and no one who works there can tell me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Super Bowl Preview

Well, my playoff picks were beyond subpar this year. Not sure how I missed that so badly, and how we had so few good games. Anyway, without further ado, my annual Super Bowl preview.

Offense and Quarterbacks:
We have an amazing matchup of quarterbacks this year. Both quarterbacks have the ability to read defenses and make adjustments well enough that we should have plenty of offense to watch.
As far as key players on offense go, I have to give the Saints the edge. Not that the Colts don't have manageable receivers (Peyton Manning can make anyone look good), but I give the Saints an edge on their explosiveness. They have the ability to go all the way on any reception and open field tackling by the Colts defense will be key in keeping them in check. I also feel like the Saints running backs fit better into their offensive game plan than the Colts do as Addai is more of a power back stuck in a spread offense and they lack that Pierre Thomas/Reggie Bush receiving threat out of the backfield.
From a pure quarterback standpoint though, I give the edge to Peyton over Drew because of his experience. The quarterback position is so important in the Super Bowl and should be weighted accordingly. I give the Colts the overall offensive edge.

Defense and Turnovers:
Both defenses face a huge challenge this week, especially the Colts who will be without Dwight Freeney. Dwight is a big loss and he could pressure Drew and hopefully force him to make a mistake or two. But it could be worse, they could have had losses in their secondary. Net-net, the defenses are about a wash. I have been able to find a few stats though that indicate an edge for the Saints. First of all, the Colts are ranked 30th in the league stopping opponents on 3rd or 4th down and 31st in forcing 3 and outs. This will give the Saints offense more opportunities and possibilities for big plays. Also, that could raise the time of possession for the Saints and lead to a more tired Colts defense that might make mistakes late in the game. The other things is turnovers. A turnover at the right time will change the course of the game. Just ask the Cardinals last year. The Saints are 2nd overall in forcing turnovers and the Colts are 18th. Based on those two stats, I'll give the edge to the Saints.

Jim Caldwell and Sean Payton. Payton has more NFL experience and comes from the Bill Parcells/Ray Rhodes coaching tree. Caldwell was a mediocre college coach until he came under the Dungy tree in the NFL. Caldwell is also in his first season as a head coach. I prefer Payton here as a pure coach, but Caldwell has a coach on the field in Manning. Still I give the edge to the Saints here.

Game Conditions:
Both teams play their home games in a dome, so if weather is a factor, then it will be for both teams. They are also both passing offenses and can be affected by the possible rainy forecast in the same manner, although I'd rather have Donald Brown and Joseph Addai in the rain than Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.
The Super Bowl is different too because the game is slower (longer commercial breaks and more game stoppages) and without the experience of managing a slower game, offenses can get out of sync from all the delays. Since Indianapolis has been here recently, they may handle it better.

Other Factors:
Another factor that could come into play is the "happy to be here" symptom. The Saints have never been to a Super Bowl. That could play out in one of two ways. It could be a motivating factor to finish the job and increase their level of play. Or, they could be contempt that they've reached their goal and not play up the challenge. We've all seen it play out either way. I don't see the Saints being contempt but they could get caught up in the whole playing for the entire city of New Orleans pressure and trying to hard to win that it hampers their play. The whole Hurricane Katrina, we need to win for this city, card could be too much for them to carry. The Colts want to win a Super Bowl, but the entire city of Indianapolis isn't at stake, their minds are not going to be as heavy and most of the players have been there before so they will play more relaxed and handle the pressure of the game better. Advantage Colts.

Overall Prediction:
Halftime Score - 14-17 Saints

Final score - 35-31 Colts

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dream Diminished

Over the holiday season, one of my lifelong dreams was either diminished or possibly more easily achieved. But more easily achieved is not always a good thing, so I'm going with diminished. It used to be that back in the day, the good old days as they are oft called, you worked hard all your life to make a difference in this world. You serve, innovate, implement, and bust your tail to make the world a better place. And then, maybe, just maybe, you will be given the honor to have your face embolden on a US postal stamp. But now, with PictureItPostage, anyone can have their face on a stamp. You just download their software to your PC and order stamps all day with whatever picture you want on them. Stamp collectors must be going crazy, how are they going to collect one of each of all these stamps? Plus, their entire hobby has been diminished. Why should I bother trying to find some obscure Benjamin Franklin stamp? I'll just put Ben's picture into PictureItPostage and $18.45 later, I have 20 of them.
I've always wanted to achieve something that someday, people would deem me significant enough to remember by legacy by putting my face on a stamp. I just don't know that it's worth it now. Now, when my daughter is born, we'll be able to send out birth announcements with her on the stamp and her crowning achievement in life will have been a few dirty diapers and keeping me up at night. Well, that, and the fact that she's my daughter. So, Mother Teresa, Abe Lincoln, George Washington and on down the line, thanks, but you know, had you just been born much later on, you wouldn't have had to work so hard for the honor of having your mug plastered on a stamp.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hormel Deli Ham

I don’t understand Hormel's claims about their prepackaged deli ham. The packaging says in bold letters across the top “100% All Natural Ham” but then in small letters underneath, it says “Enhanced with up to 11% solution.” How can it be 100% ham then? Am I really eating 111% ham, I don’t think so. It’s more like I’m eating 89% ham that claims to be 100% ham. Is the solution all natural too, or is that part also a lie? I have a feeling I know what type of “all natural” solution pigs produce and it’s nothing that would “enhance” my ham. You know what 100% ham is? Slice off the butt of a pig, cook it and package it for me. That’s 100% ham. Anything else is just a lie. I realize 89% ham isn’t flying off the shelves like 100% ham is, but if the 100% is a lie, I’d rather them just say that it’s “ham.” Cause with the other blatant lies on the front of the packaging, I’m not even sure I can believe that part of it either.