December 17, 2001-- Newsletter #161

By Joe Burns

Goodies to Go (tm)
December 17, 2001--Newsletter #161

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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

I completed my entire load of gift-giving purchases in less than two hours, while sitting at my computer drinking a Holiday blend, full-bodied, coffee.

I did run into one problem though. While filling out the forms for my parent's present, I hit a snag. The retailer asked for a message. My guess is that someone there at the company, who must have decent penmanship, will write my message to a card. Hopefully it will be handwritten. The shipping charges were high enough to cover a professional calligrapher.

The problem was that I started some prose with the line, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas. The second line didn't quite flow as nicely because I couldn't find a rhyme for Christmas. Off to an online rhyme dictionary, never once spilling a drop of coffee.

There is wasIsthmus! It's a narrow piece of land connecting two larger pieces of land.

I love the Internet.

Did you hear

Not too long ago, I reported that major companies were using Ebay to unload merchandise that didn't sell off of the floor. Well, now has decided to make helping companies liquidate a cottage industry. The system will give companies the ability to quickly sell a ton of stuff nobody wanted in the first place.

The virus, aptly titled Goner, has a family and they're living in Tel Aviv. Four youths admitted to starting the virus. One said he wrote it and the other three admitted to spreading it. Israeli law states a maximum penalty of five years in prison for adults found spreading viruses. Juveniles can expect up to two-and-a-half years.

It's been seven weeks since Oracle head Larry Ellison proclaimed the company's software to be unbreakable. Since then Oracle's Web site has received over 30,000 attacks per week from hackers looking to shut the CEO's mouth. Guess what? No luck. This is the eighth week and no one has gotten in. Ellison states most hackers are using attacks aimed at Windows NT systems rather than the UNIX Oracle is running.

Now on to today's topic

Sohave you been dragging the economy down lately by spending money?

If so then you're one of the millions of American workers goofing off by surfing for Christmas presents when you should be finishing up your paperwork.

I'm telling you, the Web can't win. First it's helping the economy by allowing people to Buy online in a time when going out makes some people nervous. Then, it is hurting business productivity by allowing people to surf at work.

I know, I know. You should surf when you get home. I just don't see surfing at work as much of a problem. Then again, I'm a professor of Web design. Surfing for me is class preparation. I also teach TV production so watching hours of bad network television is research. Ah life

Getting back to this concept of surfing for presents costing businesses money, here's how it all panned out. A company named Pearl Software out of Philadelphia stated that surfing for Christmas presents at work will cost American businesses, get this, one half a billion dollars. Yes, that's spelled with a B.

That math went this way. There are 42 million people that have the Web at work. That's according to Nielsen research. Let's say each person spends an average of one hour surfing for Christmas presents. Multiply that by the hourly wage as stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's $12.64. You get a number in the neighborhood of a half a billion.

That's a nice neighborhood.

Pearl Software isn't just talking out of their floppy drive either. Research shows that the number one time for online shopping is weekdays around one PM. Well, you just got back from lunch. You certain can't be expected to start working right away!

Furthermore, an informal poll on suggests that the majority of online buyers intend to buy more this year than last year. It just keeps getting worse and worse for you bosses out there.

Speaking of bosses, what should you do if you're caught surfing for presents? The quickest answer is to proclaim that you're surfing to buy something for the person who caught you. That would work with me. Of course, it also locks you into buying whatever happened to be on the screen at the time the boss walked in. That could get expensive.

The second best excuse is to say you were forced into buying online. According to, retailers that have both an online and brick-and-mortar store have learned from their past holiday seasons. Advertising money is going more and more to the online side of things.

A handy little chart showed percentages of money, in fiscal quarters, spent for online and offline media.

(See it here.)

The scales have tipped. Last year at this time, advertising money was spent almost evenly between online and offline retail outlets. Last quarter, the one leading into the holidays, showed a big change in thinking. Over three-quarters of the advertising money spent went to push the online media.

How can you possible resist? You're only one person and you don't get out much.

So the season is upon us and that all-important December 20-something deadline to get it there by Christmas is bearing down upon us. Do good for all. Surf, but don't surf at work because there's like a half a billion buck that we're


You're not reading this newsletter at work are you?


That's that. Thanks for reading. Merry merry.

See you next week for my last newsletter.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: Hopefully you won't get gypped online this year. Gypped? Where exactly did the term Gyp come from? It's Greek. It literally means vulture. The term came from students at Cambridge University. It seems that at one time, the school furnished servants that were able to take tips from the students. Those servants would find as many crafty ways as possible to get another tip. Those tips gotten in a less than honest manner were said to be a Gyp.

Maybe you could dicker or bargain over the price. Dicker is Roman. It was the ancient Roman's word for ten. Back then, ten hides was the basic unit of currency. To discuss prices was go up or down ten hides in price. Dicker.

Maybe you could pay in Wampum. It's an Algonquain Indian word that means, white string. The Algonquain tribe had two forms of bead currency, white and black, or sometimes purple. The white was more valuable.

However you pay, make sure to get someone something nice for Xmas. In case you're wondering, the X in Xmas is actually the Greek letter Chi which is the first letter of the Greek spelling of Christ. It's a short hand version of the word Christmas.

However, if you receive a nice present this year, be kind. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. You see the value of a horse is primarily set by its age. The best method of determining a horse's age is by looking into its mouth. That would most likely offend the person giving it you.

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