Walmart vs CostCo (and others)

After reading a short entry from Glenn Reynolds about Wal-Mart, I hit the two links and did some reading.
PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE would like us to think that because the economy is improving, people are shunning Wal-Mart because of the lower priced, and therefore lower quality, goods that are sold there. Consumers choose to pay slightly more for brands with more name recognition.
The second goes down another track and claims that the shopping experience in general just sucks at Wal-Mart:

I can accept that, but Wal-Mart starts to lose the battle when Target clearly goes out of its way to maintain wide aisles, a slightly more upscale selection of merchandise and a store that’s not downright filthy six days out of seven. Maybe Wal-Marts outside of the Southeast are clean and neat, but I’ve yet to see a store stay clean and pleasant for more than six months after its opening. Those of us with the option don’t want to shop at Wal-Mart; not out of opposition to red state values or capitalism. We shop at Target because our feet don’t stick to the floor while walking down the frozen food aisle.

I’d agree with the second one, but I think they are both missing an underlying factor: Wal-Mart employees have no motivation to do a good job, their compensation and benefits suck. CostCo, for example, has better employee retention numbers and better starting salaries, according to this article. Contrast that with some of the reports about Wal-Mart’s wonderful employment record.
If you know you are just an easily replaced cog in the giant machine, why try to do anymore than just what is necessary to get by? Maybe this will encourage Wal-Mart to put employee well-being ahead of stock holders value and corporate profits in the race for the the all-mighty dollar.
Update: My stylesheet still makes quotes look like crap, gotta get that fixed.

Active Directory upgrade

The student sites are now running on a Windows 2003 Server Active Directory. I learned a few things along the way:

  • Don’t try to reuse an existing server name if it is staticly mapped in your WINS database. The Windows Server 2003 upgrade process will think there is a name collision and use some randomly generated name for the server, UNIVERSI-2345a8 for example.
  • If you have messed around with the User Rights on your NT4 domain, you’d best find the defaults for Windows 2003 and reset them. Updates and other things just don’t install correctly until they are reset. (The Threats and Countermeasures Guide came in pretty handy here too.)
  • Until the workstations DNS server and the default DNS domain name is changed, they keep working right along as if the domain is still NT4 based. Dynamic DNS doesn’t start working until then either.

I still need to move all the FSMO roles off the temporary DC, but that doesn’t need to happen any time soon. I may put any more changes off until winter break.

1 year blog-aversary?

Is this thing on?

Yes, I’ve had the blog for a year now, and contrary to my own predictions, it isn’t neglected or dead.

I’ve got pictures and stories to post about tearing into my parents old house and the Windows NT4 to 2003 Active Directory upgrade at work, but I really don’t feel like writing up either of them right now.

Lots of portscans this morning

Looks like there’s a new worm afoot on campus this morning, lots of probes at port 445 and 135 to our portsentry hosts. Maybe this new RBot variant or this Agobot variant.

And we were down to less than 60 open tickets.

Update (11/18/2004): Looks like at least some of these were recently reinstalled Windows XP without all the patches. Most commonly found virus was Korgo.worm.v. But, this mini-outbreak reinforces the usefulness of being proactive with network monitoring and using the quarantine vlan.

The sad state of the Democratic party

When former party honchos turned gasbag talking heads are smashing eggs on their faces and making cracks about gay governors on national television, something is wrong. I just hope that no one was actually watching the sunday morning gasbag shows.

And, isn’t it suprising that the rats are running off the ship like it’s sinking? Hmm, can anyone say “lucrative consulting jobs with goverment contractors and think tanks”? Maybe Gen. Powell is just looking for a way to get his self respect back.

Josh Marshall, over at talkingpointsmemo has some good thoughts on all this.