Tuesday, August 11, 1998

Viva Las Vegas

Editor's NOTE: This is a moldie oldie that I pulled from a text dump archive. None of the links will work anymore (or 99% won't) - but the names and companies have NOT changed.

So I went to Las Vegas with some friends to celebrate my birthday. I hadn't been there in four or five years so, needless to say, there were five or ten new "mega attraction" hotels just waiting to swallow my hard-earned money.

We stayed at the Tropicana. When it was built - it was one of "the" places to be. Now, not so much. Although the pool is great - the food sucks and the slots are tighter than a... well, let's just say they don't pay off very much.

I'm convinced that the casino business is the best business model on the face of the planet. Where else in the country can you go and not see one single clock or calendar? It's true. All the flashing signs shout the praises of $4.99 prime rib, show video clips of upcoming concerts, and some even display ADS (like they're not making enough money!) - but there's not a clock to be found in the entire city.

Not only that - but I personally witnessed several people playing $5 and $10 slot machines. This means that for each "spin" it would cost $5 to $25 (1 to 5 "coins" per "spin"). And people would sit at these machines for HOURS. I also saw people playing at the $100 minimum blackjack tables. That's $100 PER HAND, mind you. All these suckers (myself included) kept throwing good money after bad - absolutely CONVINCED that they would win "the big one." Sheesh!

I wish that the software industry used the casino's business model. First of all - it would cost you money just to visit a web site (say, $10). Once you got on to the site, each link you clicked would cost you 25 cents... and there was a CHANCE that you would actually win the "big one" and go to the link you wanted.

Buying software would work the same way. You plunk down a small fee - say $10 and you can get started. You then insert money, pull the handle, and if you get a certain combination (say three cherries) you get a certain feature enabled. So, if you need email capabilities, you would have to keep pumping in money and trying your luck. You know it's possible, because you hear the sounds of glee and actually KNOW PEOPLE who have won. If you win the "big one" (odds are about 1,000,000,000 to 1) - you actually win the entire software with all the features intact.

Hmmmm... I wonder if I have Bill Gates' home number...

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