Posted by: devinmoore | April 20, 2010

Customer Service as Prevention

Many businesses looking to save money will cut corners at customer service first, as it seems like a waste of money.  If the business sells X, then anything not directly selling more units of X can be seen as overhead.  Customer service appears to fit into this category, but customer service is actually a preventative measure for stores.

If customer service is good, you don’t really notice it.  Managers may see no customer service issues as an indication that their customer service investments are a waste of money… after all, if spending more doesn’t make it look “better”, and spending less doesn’t make it look “worse”, then why not spend less?

The problem with this strategy is the cost of bad customer service is not in an immediate effect, but rather an avalanche effect.  One bad encounter can be enough to deter any customer for life from your store.  You may only lose $20 on a sale today, but losing that customer for life could mean maybe 50-100 more $20 sales over time from them, their friends and families.  If you think of a lost customer as 50-100 lost sales over several years, and if you’re losing customers every day, how long could you really afford not to care about that bad customer service experience?

One might think that’s the end of the damage, but it can get much worse.  Deter the wrong customer and you can have a powerful negative PR movement against your entire company, and these have been known to drive entire branches or regions out of business.  Negative PR grassroots campaigns are further fueled by false ‘mea culpas’ because any other new customer service problem, even an accident, becomes deliberate in the eyes of your alienated customers.  Get yourselves a few political enemies through a delayed response and you can be trying to prove your case to the federal government, just ask Toyota.  Lots of car companies issue recalls all the time, but Toyota didn’t respond quick enough (appropriate response time is a part of customer service) and so they are in a heap of trouble.

So what is the solution?  Obviously customer service is not to be ignored, but it is not the sole cure for slumping sales either.  Customer service is simply one of many preventative measures that help keep you from alienating loyal customers.  Maintain it, and you will likely maintain a steady customer base.  Ignore it, and you may suddenly find yourself with a plummeting income and a hornet’s nest of bad public relations.

Posted by: devinmoore | April 20, 2010

More time travel weirdness

A number of shows have appeared on TV lately about time travel.   Let’s assume for a moment that I have an actual time machine like the ones in the movies.  Time travel into the future based on physics is really just a distortion of the time traveler’s perception of time, and you can’t get back, which is not useful for “travel” as we know it (being able to get back to when/where you started).

The truly interesting things happen with time travel into the past, and how it might affect timelines.  I have been considering two interesting thought experiments based on a generalization of the grandfather problem:

1. if you time travel into the past, could you stop yourself from time traveling in the first place?

The first assumption of “you could not stop yourself” assumes that the past into which you travel is on the same timeline as the present day that you came from.  However, once you are in the past, the timeline has changed already, so maybe you could prevent the new you (the one where you exist alongside of it) from also going back and making a 3rd you… maybe you have to prevent yourself from going back or else there will be an infinite loop.

If you could prevent yourself from time traveling because you’re already in the past, that assumes that there is an enormous space-time warp at the point where you co-exist with yourself.  Otherwise, how could the same atoms exist in two places at the same time?  I assume that the amount of energy necessary to hold you next to yourself like that with a hole in space-time would be quite significant.

Another option is that upon time travel into the past, your older self completely replaces your younger self.  This would have to include an atom-for-atom replacement, so to everyone else in the past, you’d appear to age instantly to much older.  If this happens, I imagine you wouldn’t really be able to get back to the future unless you somehow had remained entangled with your future self — and then going back might kill your younger self when you separate back… weird stuff.

2. if someone invents time travel at some point in the future, can’t we just leave them a message to come back to “now”?

Here assumptions abound: they have to see and understand the message, their machine has to bring them back to a specific place and time, and they have to be willing to actually do it.  I assume their biggest reason for not coming back is that they assume our reaction would be one of hostility.  As Calvin and Hobbes once said, “the surest sign of alien intelligence is that none of it has tried to contact us.”

Posted by: devinmoore | April 20, 2010

The invention

Like many creative people in the technology industry, I have frequently worked on different inventions.  Some are good ideas. Some are practical or even efficient.  Others are abject failures.  But what if one of these was the invention?  What would it be like to decisively solve one of the ultimate puzzles of mankind?  Here is a brief summary of my thoughts on solving one of these problems.

First, I might not even be aware that I had found such a solution. Truly groundbreaking ideas may not look anything like existing ideas, or else we would likely already have them.

Suppose I was aware that I had such an idea and I knew a practical implementation was doable.  How could I reliably convince others to help support its construction or application?  Few would trust that a breakthrough was there without a demo, and the demo may be too expensive for me to construct.

Finally, suppose I did construct a demo that showed without a doubt something truly incredible.  At that point, is success assured?    There would be new obstacles, but I’d like to think a demo that truly worked could overcome those.

So the invention may only be held up by a cost prohibitive demo.  What’s the solution to that?  I don’t know but I look forward to practical solutions that allow inventors to develop higher cost demos.  Even if most don’t work and it seems like a waste of money, all it takes is just one that really does work to boost mankind into a whole new Renaissance.

A whole slew of other issues come up right away assuming you have a breakthrough. First, entire maintenance industries might collapse. Suppose you had a cure for cancer. All cancer treatment would become void, costing many healthcare industries billions of dollars.  They would not be happy about it.  They would go out of their way to crush my demo and push my idea into obscurity.  Some who got desperate might try worse things to get rid of me.

Similar political issues might come up with an energy breakthrough that gives breakaway extremist groups the ability to wield a new higher degree of force with very limited resources.

Thus, even with a working prototype, simply putting a solution out there might cause major disruption to the status quo up to and including political or financial chaos for an unknown period of time.

Finally, we come back to what do I do with my demo.  I probably try to consult with whatever political leaders I can. Eventually the fed will get wind of it and the DoD probably locks it up in warehouse 13 for all time. Or at least until they can protect it better from enemies and from the public, releasing parts over time so that the shock of the new thing is not as great.

Creating a breakthrough invention presents a vast number of problems beyond the difficulty of producing the invention itself.  I welcome ideas that might help protect inventors from big business and enemy interests, and allow these breakthroughs to flourish in the open marketplace, creating whatever shifts in industry that they may create.

Posted by: devinmoore | January 19, 2010

Melodius and the Soulforge: Act 1 now available

Get your copy of MATSF Act 1, now finally available, featuring 15 tracks (9 studio tracks, 6 acousic performance tracks).

Acts 2-4 are also in full production, with the next CD release pending hopefully in just a few months.

Posted by: devinmoore | December 31, 2009

New combined RSS feed

The new rss feed on combines all of my associated content into one single stream. Subscribe and get all of my content updates from all my different projects in one convenient RSS feed!

Posted by: devinmoore | December 21, 2009

Act 1 coming 1/1/2010

Melodius and the Soulforge: Act 1 will be released on 1/1/2010.

Posted by: devinmoore | December 18, 2009

The Resurgence of Usenet-Style Trolls/Flame Wars

Over the last year and the last few months especially, I have noticed an increase in the following:
1. the number of “news” or other non-opinion websites allowing comments without much moderation or filter, with an unhealthy mix of fact and opinion causing an ever-increasing level of hostility in their comments.
2. the level of vitriol in comments on any given topic, even if the topic is not an opinion story, including insults not meant as jokes but as responses intended to shame or discourage positive discourse.

One possible explanation that occurred to me just recently is that Usenet was basically shut down/integrated into the Internet proper.  In the old days, I abandoned Usenet after seeing the comments digress into this type of nonsense.  I remember thinking to myself, “I am so glad this isn’t part of the Internet.”  But now it is a part of the Internet, and it appears to be a growing problem.  I don’t think people are understanding that moderation will lead to more insightful discussions, plus a stable long-term user base.  Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that a private website can’t actively encourage positive discourse by removing insulting posts.

Posted by: devinmoore | August 17, 2009

MATSF Updates

Part of ‘Secret In My Mind’ demo on CNN:

Nearly 60k downloads on with a demo track:

Posted by: devinmoore | May 19, 2009

Track Listing Update

12 new demo tracks for my metal opera are now cataloged online with the rest of the project at

Posted by: devinmoore | April 6, 2009

Mad Scientist update

Still trying to get transfer credits into the Ph.D program for all my master’s degree classes that in my view clearly are overlapping related courses (class name is the same, structure of the program based on multiple class names appears to be the same, etc.)

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