August 30, 2008

Why not prepaid utilities?

Just thinking out loud again...why don't utility companies (or grocery stores for that matter) offer pre-paid cards? It'd be nice to give someone a gift of $$ off of their electric bill or next weeks food supplies. In fact, considering that many companies have debts in business, they could offset the interest they pay on these business loans with pre-paid customers. Let's say Dominion Electric Co. has a loan out for $10M at 8% interest, and instead, offer their customers 5% off on pre-paid electricity? Among those people who are capable, who wouldn't invest in next month's electricity if they could get 5% on their money?

August 27, 2008

Just a Thought: Do you really need it NOW?

The computing environment has enabled us to do business faster than ever before possible in human history. However, keeping pace with the business process speed improvements is the speed at which crooks can steal our identities, our information and our money.

I was reading a news article and I had a brief thought that perhaps the answer to some types of cyber-crime might be to slow down, rather than speed up. Like most thoughts I have, this one requires a good deal of fleshing out, but the seed of the idea is that crooks are looking to break in to an enclosure, remove a resource, and leave as quickly as possible. If a crook has to hang around and expose himself to discovery, he's likely to move on to a quicker target with less risk.

What if we slow down our processing at high-risk processing centers, exposing money movement to larger time windows, requiring customers to hang around (and be subject to random audit) before their transactions are processed? What are some good ways to implement delays and exposure to scrutiny into our data systems? What kind of cost benefit analysis can be done for lost productivity vs. increased security? Just a thought.

August 17, 2008

Of Found Lotto Tickets and Roadside Motels

On our recent vacation to Fort Lauderdale, I did some swimming and scanning of the ocean floor for interesting objects. Besides the seaweed, coral rocks, palm-tree leaves and broken shells, I found another object lying on top of the sand and beneath the surf. It was a Florida Lotto ticket, sitting open and displaying its message of hope. Gently, I scooped my hand under the ticket so as not to rip it and lifted it out of the ocean. I walked it back to the beach and laid it out to dry on my skimboard (which I didn't get to use...there's not much surf at Ft. Lauderdale). The drawing date on the ticket was the 16th of Aug, and it was only the 15th. Whoever had lost the ticket was probably looking for it now. Unfortunately for them, they hadn't signed the ticket when they bough it. As Daffy Duck would say: "Mine! Mine! It's all MINE!"

So, here I sit on the 17th of Aug, in a Ramada Motel in South Carolina, heading back up the eastern seaboard. With a single matching number on the lotto ticket, it's much less of a story now. The free breakfast was no big shakes, either, though better than a punch in the nose. The lobby of this particular Ramada was, like that Lotto ticket, so full of promise yesterday. I walked into their beautiful lobby with two descending curved staircases and gorgeously appointed furnishings. There is a huge chandelier dropped between them, leading to a marble counter and large reception area. A promise of a free hot breakfast made the deal complete. However, just like the Lotto ticket, that promise collapsed when we finally saw where we'd be staying. The lobby building is built to hide the motel from the road, perhaps purposefully so. The room door had remnants of spray paint. The door lock, while operational, wasn't trustworthy. It's a good thing there was a second one ;) Also like the Lotto ticket, it wasn't the worst I'd ever had. The room was clean and everything apparently works.

Dissapointment isn't necessarily something you can complain about.