May 24th, 2007

badge engineering

When I was a kid, I noticed that Ford and Mercury had the same vehicles, mostly, with different labels. I asked my dad about it, and his response was something like "Some people won't buy a Ford because it's a 'cheap' brand." But they'll buy the same car if it says Mercury? It didn't make much sense to me.

The Truth about Cars has been running a series about the history of this sort of behavior. It's mostly about GM's perspective, but it covers the original factors that brought many car companies under one roof and what caused them to become homogeneous and boring.

Part 1 starts here, and more are showing up on the editorial page regularly.

new laptop

Last July Erik killed Shanna's creaky old Dell laptop by dumping a mug of cold coffee on it. We finally got around to replacing it with a shiny new MacBook.

I was going to get it via my friend Anders, who works at Apple and gets a 15% discount. But it turned out to be faster & cheaper to actually buy it through Amazon, since they're offering a $100 rebate on the $1099 model we want to get, and they don't have charge me California sales tax. On top of that, they're throwing in free Amazon Prime membership, so an upgrade to one-day shipping was only $1.99. Total end cost: $1000.99. Ordered it yesterday, should be here tomorrow.

I'm cancelling the Prime thing after the laptop arrives, though. I just don't buy enough crap from Amazon to justify the yearly cost.