It has been a while since I got all you readers up-to-date with the latest lingo in Silicon Valley. So 'let's get current'.
For some romantics, Valentine's Day could have led to value-added relationships.
How you measure margin in relationships is beyond me, but maybe I have not worked out the Ts&Cs properly.
When they first meet, Silicon Valley people ask: 'What's your space?' It is a question that doesn't refer to body mass or the number of spare rooms in your house, but what you do for a living. It implies that your job is not something you do, but rather something you are.
If you think you have a great idea for venture capitalists in the Valley, you need to pass the elevator test. If you can't sell the idea, its opportunity and profit potential to important investors in the short time you have with them - often only the time it takes an elevator to travel a few floors - you fail.
Apparently, the obsession with jargon and phrases unique to Silicon Valley is caused by the combination of a lot of technology and a lot of money in this area.
I'll help you show off to the sales and marketing people in your US headquarters by telling you a few more of these phrases next week, but for now, ponder over this one: 'He was sucking his own exhaust.' Perhaps you won't want to find out what that means when we 'get current' next week.
All mouth and no trousers
Your Web page is not somewhere for you to express yourself or discuss what you want - that has become evident from developments in the US recently.
Cameron Barrett, a computer technology lecturer, was teaching a group about the internet and told them they could look at his Web page if they wanted to. They did, and were shocked to read his violent and sexually explicit stories. As a result he was sacked. Another company fired Lizz Sommerfield after she posted a Web page featuring pictures of her in leopard print underwear.
Yet surveys show that porn is driving internet commerce and Playboy is the most popular Website among corporate men in America.
I'd prefer to be shocked by someone's self-expression, which I volunteered to see, than to be shocked by such hypocrisy.
Under the hammer
Ingram Micro's entry into the auction business is never going to threaten Christie's but I wondered why the distributor - a company that teases every last tenth of a per cent out of its prices - wants to sell off kit at prices that it cannot set.
The auction Website will carry new, unopened products, Ingram said, and a reseller claimed it will help it find products which have been discontinued.
The auction will also include returns or products from vendors which do not sell to Ingram.
The intention to clear obsolete products that have not been price protected by the vendor and are just costing Ingram money and warehouse space. So that's it. It may seem like an obvious statement, but the indirect hardware channel should concentrate on selling servers.
The latest research figures predict that turnover from server sales in the worldwide indirect channel will grow at over 15 per cent for the next two years, compared to just 4.2 per cent growth for direct server sales.
The other tips analysts offer are that Windows NT business is growing fast, distributors will be asked to recruit for vendor channels and Unix shipments will remain strong for the high-end. But the best tip is this: don't spend a small fortune on a report - just read this column.
When you go to the supermarket, are you one of those people who takes advantage of the special offers and buys three of everything, or who can't help but go for the bargain chocolate biscuits? Then, when you get home, you look at the receipt and realise you didn't get a discount at the checkout.
This happens to me all the time and, quite frankly, I find it infuriating.
Nobody wants to complain over a missing 25p discount but it's the principle of the thing, as my grandmother would say.
It is good that we have more convenient options at the checkout, like cash-back, but innovation is everywhere and supermarkets should be offering everything they can to keep the business of people who spend thousands at their shop every year.
If it is any comfort, you are not alone in being ripped off by checkouts - it happens here too. According to a study by a company with no interest in being nice to the supermarkets - the California Public Interest Research Group - local retail scanners overcharged shoppers by $250 million last year due to errors, and an amazing one in 25 transactions led to more money for the supermarket.
At a food marketing show in Los Angeles, NCR will be showing its latest idea for scanners. Others have shown portable scanners for shoppers to carry around, but NCR's latest takes the cashier out of the loop completely. Judging by the state of some cashiers, this is a good idea.
The new equipment allows you to scan stuff yourself. You can sigh huffily when the person in front is slow at putting their shopping through, glare at yourself when you bruise your fruit on the scales and even sign your name Mickey Mouse after you swipe your own credit card. However, the only technology stopping you from scanning kiwi fruit as potatoes is a video system and security guard.
Presumably, the supermarkets will make so much money by laying off their cashiers that they won't mind a few transactions that benefit the shopper for a change.
James Harding is US editor of VNU Newswire, based in San Francisco.
He can be reached at [email protected] or on 00 1 415 306 0879.
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