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Views from the Prairie

April 16

Have it Your Way

The Arts and Crafts movement in the early 1900's was a reaction to the sameness of the factory goods offered. People wanted something different. The same is true today. People want to offer unique merchant services which is why we offer custom merchant services software.

In the 1800's, industrialization took off in a big way. Production of nearly everything was moved from the individual craftsperson to the factory. This change was very profitable to the factory owner while the crafts people needed to find other work.

After a bit, consumers rebelled against the sameness. After the basic needs are filled, people want individuality. The result was the Arts and Crafts movement which emphasized the human action and exposed the craft. People like Stickley changed the design of American furniture while Frank Lloyd Wright changed the style of American homes. In jewelry and art glass, Tiffany and Studios set a whole new style. Even today, that work is highly valued.

We see the same thing happening today with the shopping mall. For a while, shopping malls were going very strong. But then, with the expansion of national store brands, the malls all started to look the same. The same stores with the same merchandise were in every mall. The result is that people are going elsewhere. Shopping malls are being torn down, repurposed, or turned over to people who return the mall to the community. These new owners bring in unique local stores with unusual merchandise, or bring in other functions that people want and bring back the shoppers.

Today, we have "globalization" where one can find the same brands around the world. People who once offered the products on the local market are losing customers to the global brand and they have to find other work instead. In response, we find efforts to bring "fair trade" to native crafts people and allow them to have a global market. Once again, one can find unique items, but we have to search for them.

The same is true with merchant services. Some services such as credit card processing are being concentrated into fewer publicly traded companies. Those companies are pushing for "economies of scale" which means that they offer the same thing to every merchant.

That opens the door to those who can offer custom services at a reasonable cost. In manufacturing, American factories are competitive because they are offering custom work and smaller lot sizes faster, better, and cheaper than sending that work overseas.

This is the thinking behind why we offer custom gift and loyalty servers. We know that merchants are always asking for unique services. By building on a base and customizing it, we can provide you with the software so that you can offer those unique services. We don't run the transactions, we empower you to run them for your merchants.

People will always want things their way. Through good planning and careful work, we can find ways to fulfill that desire.


Working sixteen hour days, handling email at all hours of the night, and seeing far more of your company than your spouse are all very common actions in today's world. However, these are also a recipe for bad decision making and losing what we really value. Far more marriages have broken up and executives burned out under these kinds of stresses than companies have succeeded. It is by focusing on the items that truly matter that we are most productive and most profitable.

Mindfulness is recognizing that the most important asset we bring to a situation is our ability to understand and make decisions. That ability slides away under lack of sleep, too little time to dig into the problem, and pressure to make a decision right away.

We need to manage our minds.

We gain the space to properly manage our abilities by saying no to so many of the things that come our way. Squeezing in one more task before we quit for the day is actually harmful. When we do that, we tend to think of that task as something we got for free. However, it still costs and every additional such task has incrementally larger costs. Often we do not recognize the costs because we have been paying them for so long. We get to where we are harming our health, our relationships, and our mental abilities. It may take the health crisis or relationship break up to point out that we have drained ourselves of that which really counts just for that last little bit of work.

It is only through accepting and living within our limits that we get to focus on the items that truly matter. Everything else can either be handled by someone else or they really don't matter (and we do best to not do them).

Risky World

MaxMind offers a way to find the physical location of an IP address. However, it is not precise and has some default values for IP addresses it can't locate. The people living at one of those defaults have been inundated with queries and another nearly was invaded by a SWAT team looking for stolen goods. Do not trust the locations given.


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