Monday, November 26, 2012

McGraw Hill Publishers publish a little less

Nov. 26 McGraw Hill Publishers announced the sale of their educational textbook branch to Apollo Global Managment according to the Associated Press. The sale of 2.5 billion in cash and debt is a big move that has a personal note with me.

Three years ago I spent six month working as the Professional Assistant to a Sales Associate at McGraw Hill Publishers here in the Bay Area, and it was one of the worst conditions of my life. I spent the time reorganizing and taking inventory on the storage units they used instead of a proper warehouse, making deliveries and pick-ups, organizing drop-offs at the storage units, and running errands for my employer who will remain nameless.

All of this could remain tolerable if it weren't for the constant knowledge of what McGraw was spending to make the books versus what they were making off of them, and the fact that despite this astronomic profit margins I had to call the labor board not once, but twice to get my paycheck after it had been weeks too late made for a less than tolerable situation.

In the end I can't say I'm not happy to see this sale, but I would likely be happier if the number on the price tag was a little less for this multi-billion dollar branch of the company.

What is going on with Guy Fieri, really?

On Nov. 13, the NY Times posted one of the most damaging restaurant reviews I've ever seen in the two years I've been writing for community college papers around the bay area.

The review, written by Pete Wells, can be seen here as a number of insults framed as questions surrounding the overwhelming feeling that this guru of the grill has no idea what is going on in his new restaurant.

Fieri hosts the most popular show on the Food Network and owns a number of restaurants around California, most notably Johnny Garlic's, and when he was quick to lobby his response to them it was of course picked up by the Los Angeles Times' writer Patrick Kevin Day and rerun in the San Jose Mercury here.

After reading both the response and the review I have to say that I'm a little less excited to check out Johnny Garlic's, and if Guy thinks that he is more right than his customers then perhaps he needs to go back to school to learn how food trade really runs.

Caught with your chat down - Privacy in Social Media

All over college campuses millions of students are perpetually logged-in, uploading, liking, and commenting on Facebook. Many post photos, poems, and stories that they take pride in and wish to share with their friends for the sake of collaboration, vindication, or critique, but with the recent ongoing changes to Facebook's business structure many users, both students and not, are going wild posting a new "talisman" to their walls in the hopes of protecting their content, and the truth is that this post does nothing.

Facebook's recent change to a publicly traded company has fooled a great deal of the general public into believing that the site has become less private than it was before. The new status, which has been spreading like wildfire, places a verbal copyright on all content and is very similar to another post that went around back in July. More details on why this doesn't work can be found here.

In the end Facebook becoming publicly-traded doesn't change their responsibility to the user in any way. If you use a service which offers you no product then you are the product. Make no mistake, Facebook's entire concept of value is based on keeping the users as a captive audience for ads, fan-pages, and flash games where for just a few gold (that'll cost you about two dollars) you can milk a cow in under three hours. If they did anything to drive you away they'd be destroying their own product. Does this mean they won't violate your privacy? Probably not. The amount we will tolerate as a people with nothing but spoken anger is so great that it would take a large amount of continued abuse to make any notable number of users walk away from the social media giant that is Facebook.