Friday, December 31, 2004

12 steps for problem-solving

I found the diagram below at this post on How to Save the World:

I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the post; it is a very well-written post on using these 12 steps to solve problems.

Make Firefox faster

These instructions come from this post on Boing Boing (Note: change configuration settings at your own risk):

Type "about:config" into the address bar and hit return. Scroll down and look for the following entries:

network.http.pipelining network.http.proxy.pipelining network.http.pipelining.maxrequests

Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading.

Alter the entries as follows:

Set "network.http.pipelining" to "true"

Set "network.http.proxy.pipelining" to "true"

Set "network.http.pipelining.maxrequests" to some number like 30. This means it will make 30 requests at once.

Lastly right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it "nglayout.initialpaint.delay" and set its value to "0". This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it receives.

 A few further caveats from the Boing Boing post:

  • Enabling pipelining in Firefox can speed up complex page retrievals, as you note, but it can also break Flash.  This is a Macromedia thing not a Firefox thing but that’s why the app defaults to pipelining disabled.
  • There are reasons why Firefox isn't configured like that out of the box. Asa at explains why:

Yes, enabling HTTP pipelining can dramatically improve networking performance. The downside, and the reason it's not enabled by default, is that it can prevent Web pages from displaying correctly. If you've enabled this, and you find pages that aren't displaying correctly, please don't blame Firefox or the Web developer. It's probably the fact that you enabled an "unsupported" feature which is incompatible with some Web servers and proxy servers.

The second change, setting the initial paint delay at zero, may get you some content on the screen faster, but it's worth noting that it will dramatically slow down the time it takes the entire page to display.

Yes, there are tuning change you can make (even at compile time, see Moox' optimized builds) that will dramatically alter the performance characteristics of Firefox. Feel free to experiment, but remember that most of the defaults are defaults for a reason. If your browser starts misbehaving or web sites look broken, it might be worth going back to default settings.

My advice: just remember how to default or keep a copy of the most current installer on your system so that you can just re-install if you run into problems.


The Art of Being on a Panel

Guy Kawasaki's tips for being on a panel via this article on the AlwaysOn Network:

    1. Control your introduction.
    2. Entertain, don't just inform.
    3. Tell the truth.
    4. Err on the side of being plain and simple.
    5. Never look bored.
    6. Don't look at the moderator.
    7. Make casual conversation.
    8. Answer the question posed, but never limit yourself to the question posed.
    9. Never say, "I agree with what the other panelists have said".
    10. Provide a way to get in touch with you.

Guy Kawasaki is the author of The Art of the Start.

Does Amazon have an invisible phone number?

After reading this post on Church of the Customer, I went looking for a customer service number myself on the Amazon site and could not find one; exactly what it said in the Church of the Customer post.  Luckily for me (even though I don't need it right now), the post offers these 2 numbers:

    1. Amazon Corporate:  (206) 622-2335
    2. Amazon Customer Service:  1-800-201-7575

Recording on your iPod -- no expesnive third party equipment needed

You can find out how to record audio on your iPod at this post on Engadget that links through to this post on Hack A Day.

It's this simple:

    1. Install Podzilla on your iPod (not all models are supported).
    2. Boot in to Linux on your iPod.
    3. Go to Extras > Recordings, choose 8,32,44.1,88.2 or 96kHz the higher, the better quality.
    4. Record via Line In a microphone or even use your headphones.
    5. Boot back in to the normal iPod OS plug in to the doc, grab your files from the iPod in the Recordings folder.

Now play with this quick before Apple releases an iPod software update.

A major artist bypasses the labels

According to this post on The Big Picture, James Taylor, after fulfilling his obligation to Columbia Records with his last major release cut a new album called "James Taylor: A Christmas Album."  He then went and secured exclusive distribution rights with Hallmark Cards and set the price of the album at $10.95 or $6.95 with the purchase of 3 greeting cards.

No advertising and almost zero press yielded total sales of over 1 million copies in less than 2 months (that's platinum status, by the way).

Not surprisingly, Hallmark is considering deals with other artists for other card-purchase-heavy holidays and seasons.

Another blow for the record companies, but a win for consumers.

Still need that last minute year-end review and new year prep?

Look no further than the following ten tips from this post on Salesprocessdiva (apparently these originally came from Leading Insight and I originally saw them on this post at the Occupational Adventure):

1. What did you accomplish? Take a few moments to think about the major breakthroughs of the year. What has been achieved this year?

What major obstacles were overcome? Which of your goals did you achieve? Make a list of your major accomplishments for this past year.

2. What were your disappointments? Think about the frustrations you have experienced over the same timeframe. What things did not go as you had planned or hoped? What mistakes were made? List your biggest disappointments.

3. Think process. Go back and review your two lists and this time think about the processes or methods that were used to further your goals. For instance maybe you achieved your revenue goals and have noted this as a major accomplishment, but the team took too much time to make decisions and then act on them. Add additional process related disappointments or accomplishments to your lists.

4. What lessons have you learned? Review your list of accomplishments and disappointments and think about the lessons you have learned this year. Write down how you can use these lessons as you move forward into next year.

5. Celebrate your success. Review again your accomplishments and pat yourself on the back for all you have achieved. Taking time to acknowledge your success on a regular basis is a great way to refuel yourself and reduce stress. Often we take our successes for granted and yet this is a key step in building confidence in order to take on bigger challenges.

6. Celebrate with others. Consider how others have contributed to the success of the organization. Plan meaningful ways to recognize their contributions. Celebrating doesn't have to be about parties, even though this is one way to show your appreciation. You can celebrate by personally thanking or rewarding individuals, and teams, that have made significant contributions during the year. Praise is always welcomed and often not given frequently enough.

7. Understand your values. Values are the standards and principles that are important to you. Innovation, truth, order, beauty and desire to learn, are all examples of values. Your core beliefs and values as a leader are the foundation on which you build your business. Shared values are the glue that holds organizations together. What are your top five values? Are you working in a way that is consistent with these values? If not what changes do you need to make? Understanding your values will add fuel to your sense of purpose and vision.

8. Review your vision and goals for your organization. Are you still on track? Is your vision consistent with your values? Does your vision still pull you and the organization forward? Does it need to be changed or expanded or even rewritten? Write down your thoughts on what is missing that if changed would produce a breakthrough.

Develop a prioritized list of strategic imperatives that you want to address in the coming year.

9. Develop your plan. Arrange a time to bring together your management team to develop your goals and action plan for next year. We recommend that you dedicate at least a full day to develop the plan, and that you do the work in a place where the team can stay focused and free from distractions. Begin by reviewing the questions above with your team. Just as you benefited from this review, your team will also benefit. To maximize results consider using a consultant to facilitate the planning process and build commitment and alignment to an actionable plan.

10. Commit your plan to paper. "A plan in your head isn't worth the paper it's written on." Make sure your plan is committed to writing. Then place your goals in a visible place somewhere where you will regularly see them. Develop a review process to monitor progress, celebrate success and if required make mid-course corrections.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Tablet PC and other software stuff

There's a new version of Evernote that I found via this post on The Tablet PC weblog.  Evernote seems to do a much better ink recognition job than the built-in Windows ink recognition program.  A lot of the upgrades seem to be better searching and much better drag and drop support.

You can now copy plain text from a webpage viewed in any Mozilla browser (including Firefox); this is helpful when you are trying to copy something into, say, a blog post editor and don't want to wind up with all kinds of goofy symbols in your posts.  I found out about this via this post on The Tablet PC Weblog.

Bells and Whistles for Outlook allows you to automate greetings for replies (useful when in tablet mode) and has some other neat features like allowing you to make a mass e-mail look custom.  Found via this post on The Tablet PC Weblog.

The Getting Things Done Workflow for Outlook adds a very useful bar for those of us that receive tons of e-mail daily.  Essentially, the GTD toolbar allows you to designate how you are going to respond to received e-mails.  Options include delegating e-mails, deferring e-mails, deleting e-mails, setting the response up as a task, or even designating a response as "someday."  This software is available fully compiled or is also available in PDF form with full-blown instructions on how to install the GTD toolbar without installing software (very useful for people in companies with very strict IT policies).  Found via this post on The Tablet PC Weblog.  This certainly beats just letting actionable e-mails sit in my Inbox until I get around to them; most of the time I wind up forgetting about them.

Anagram for Outlook is an intelligent piece of software that parses any information highlighted in Outlook and creates the appropriate Outlook data object (i.e., a new contact based on highlighted contact information in the body or signature of an e-mail) when you press a user-assigned hotkey.  I've only been using this for a few days, but I find it especially helpful for contact specifically; no more alt-tab and copying and pasting between an e-mail message and a new contact.  Found via this post on The Tablet PC Weblog.

Family tech support

Great post over on Ross Mayfield's Weblog about being tech support for your family.  There's a whole list of suggestions that you can check out, but I really like this first one:

If at all possible, switch them to a Mac -- You know that experience of visiting family only to find their PC infested with spyware and viruses.  Call it the crud of mainstream adoption.  They complain about things simply crashing, you have a solution, move them to a Mac with at least OS X.  This is the greatest gift you can give them, simplicity that simply works.  If not, reinstall and update everything.

I totally agree with some of the others like getting everyone to have broadband and switching people off of IE and on to Firefox.  Ross Mayfield suggests getting everyone on web-based e-mail and I totally agree with that as well and heartily reccommend getting everyone on to Gmail because it is so straightforward.

A few other tips that didn't make Ross Mayfield's list:

  • If you are doing the digital music player thing, get everyone to use iPods.  I bought my dad an iPod mini and had taught him how to use iTunes and rip all of his CDs in lass than 30 minutes.  Also, no matter if you teach someone how to use iTunes on a Mac or PC, the software is the same on both platforms (although if you follow rule #1 above, the user experience is much better on a Mac and the firewire connection is much faster).
  • For digital cameras, I endorse Cannons.  Macs as seamlessly with them as PCs, the pictures are great, and the user interface across the various models is very similar until you get into the pro cameras.

How many women are in your blogroll?

There are quite a few in mine, but I guess Scoble is realizing that there aren't enough in his.  Diversify your blogroll to include women authors.  Do it today, you are already behind the curve.

Wireless switches

Ever find yourself in a place where you wanted to control an outlet, socket, etc. with a switch, but you didn't want to spend a few hundred bucks on an electrician to snake a wire over and install a new switch in your wall (this happens a lot when installing garbage disposals)?  Wireless switches (outlet, socket, etc.) can be found all over the internet and even at Home Depot; definitely something to consider as an alternative to an electrician.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Desktop search tools matrix

Now you don't necessarily have to hear from me every time a new desktop search tool is released, updated, etc. (not that I won't be writing about it) because the Goebel Group has put together this Desktop Search Matrix that compares all of the different consumer and business search applications (you can even sign up to receive an e-mail every time the matrix is updated).

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Is Mozilla taking a run at Outlook?  Sure looks like it based on this page at Mozilla:

Welcome to the Mozilla Calendar Project. We are striving to build a cross-platform fully standards based calendar client based on the open iCal standard. Our client is built using the XUL user interface language and is targeted at Mozilla based browsers, including the Netscape 7.x series of browsers, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird and the Mozilla Application Suite.

So pair up a highly functional Sunbird calendar built on an open standard with an awesome mail program like Thunderbird (by the way, you don't have to store your Thunderbird e-mails in goofy PST files) and you wind up with a pretty powerful competitor to Outlook.  To that end:

Mozilla developer Mike Shaver has announced the "Lightning project". "Lightning" is the working project name for an extension to tightly integrate calendar functionality (scheduling, tasks, etc.) into Thunderbird.

With Lightning, Mozilla Thunderbird will have a set of user features that is much more competitive with Outlook, especially in enterprise usage.

It's hard to beat the price of Mozilla products (ummm, free).

Opera for smartphone

Opera for Windows Mobile can be downloaded here.  I left the goofy, proprietary Motorola sync cable for my MPX220 at work, so I haven't downloaded it, but it looks very promising.  Ok Firefox, where's yours?

2004 year-end Zeitgeist

I sure wouldn't know how to pronounce Zeitgeist, but luckily this is not a poscast or audio blog, so I don't have to.  I do know what Zeitgeist is: it's the summary of Google search trends.  The 2004 year-end addition is now available here.  It's interesting to look at the most popular searches over the last year.

Porn via podcast

According to this post on cameronoreilly, this site now delivers porn via podcast.  Look, agree with it or not, the porn industry always seems to be among the fist movers in embracing new distribution methods and new technology.

Is USB memory a new marketing medium?

Audi UK seems to think so according to this post on Marketing VOX News.  Apparently the USB memory devices come pre-loaded with Audi ads.  Remember when you used to be able to burn additional content on AOL CDs before they actually started closing the sessions or how you would collect all the AOL 3.5" disks you could find and cover the copy-protect tab with scotch tape so that you didn't have to buy floppies?  The question is really whether or not someone will opt into viewing your ad in exchange for the stick.  I wonder if you could design the ad so that it erased all the data on the stick after it was done running.

Great fiction book just in time for the Holidays

If you are looking for a great paperback to give to someone that enjoys reading or simply looking for a book to read during the holidays, I highly reccommend The Footprints of God by Greg Iles.  Although there is some religion involved, this is not a religious book, simply a fast-paced novel.  From Amazon:

"My name is David Tennant, M.D. I'm professor of ethics at the University of Virginia Medical School, and if you're watching this tape, I'm dead." Tennant works for Project Trinity, a secret government organization attempting to build a quantum-level supercomputer. Using advanced magnetic resonance imaging techniques, Tennant and five other top scientists have supplied Trinity, the experimental computer, with molecular copies of themselves as models for a neurological operating system. As Trinity comes to life, the men who control the experiment begin to split into competing factions, each determined to use the computer for his own ends. When Tennant tries to shut the project down because of ethical considerations, he is marked for death by the beautiful but physically and psychologically scarred Geli Bauer, head of security.

If you are a fan of Dan Brown, you will like this book.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Restaurant ideas for the holidays

They are all over the country, but here are some of my top picks if you are looking for fine dining in any of the following cities:

Los Angeles

  • Chinois on Main (Santa Monica) -- this is the original although there is one in Vegas.  Asian and French fusion done in a marvelous way.  I used to eat there 1-4 times per month when I lived in Venice and the food was consistently elegant.  My favorite dishes are the Rock Shrimp and Calamari Salad (this is usually a special, it's not on the menu) and the Szechuan Beef.  Pick of the wine list is the 1997 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour cabernet if you are lucky enough to be there when I have not consumed their entire stock.  I go to Chinois every time I am in LA (even if it's only for a day) and it is my number one pick of this entire list.
  • Mastro's Steakhouse (Beverly Hills) -- In my opinion, it's the best steak in Los Angeles.  Make sure that you ask for a table upstairs when you make reservations and arrive early so you can spend some time at the bar before they seat you.  The wine list is excellent and there's not a bad cut of meat in the place.  If you are looking for my recommendation, get a filet medium rare and be sure to ask for the sauteed blue cheese on the side (I don't think the sauteed blue cheese is on the menu, but it's the only steakhouse I've found that makes it).


  • Del Frisco's (Greenwood Village) -- The best steak in Denver, hands-down.  Although it's located 15-20 minutes South of downtown Denver, the drive is certainly worth it.  Be sure to start out with the shrimp simpler platter, they can customize the number of shrimp to the number in your party so that each person gets at least 1 shrimp with each of the 3 flavors.  Get the filet with the peppercorn sauce on the side and the chateau potatoes are excellent.  I'm not a bid spinach fan, but the creamed spinach here is about the only spinach that I will eat.  The wine list is spectacular.
  • The Fort (Morrison) -- Located up in the foothills, The Fort serves some of the best wild game in the state.  The views are spectacular, there's a fire pit to sit around and enjoy after-dinner drinks, and the menu allows you to be adventurous.  I highly reccommend the elk steak and, of course, if you have never had them before, the meu does feature Rocky Mountain Oysters.
  • Sweet Basil (Vail) -- It is definitely worth the drive; it is the first-class menu at a first class resort.  One of the best wine menus in the state and a consistently excellent menu.  I like both the rack of lamb and the double-cut pork chop.

Nassau, Bahamas

  • Graycliff Restaurant (Nassau) -- A $20 million wine cellar to start off with.  Amazing food, dry-aged beef, hand-rolled cigars on the premises.  It's hard to find anything specific to comment on because everything is so good.  I can tell you that the Caesar dressing is famous (find the recipe here).  If you have the means and the credit limit, there is a private table located in the center of the wine cellar and if you are really lucky, you may be able to convince the manager to take you on a tour of the cellars and show you the oldest registered bottle of wine in the world.


  • Bob's Steak and Chop House (Dallas) -- In a place where steak is a way of life, it's hard to find the best, but Bob's is definitely one of the best.  Call early for reservations as the place is packed almost every night.  All of the meat is simply outstanding.


  • The Plantation Club (Hamilton Parrish) -- Bring your blue blazer and tie, but you can get away with wearing your linen shorts and knee socks.  The menu is spectacular, the wine list is great, and the fresh seafood is incredible.

I'll add more to the list over time and I would be happy to provide my recommendations for any specific cities or places if you want to e-mail me or leave a comment; I haven't been everywhere, but I'm happy to help if I know anything.

Happy holiday eating!

Icemaker line

If you have don't have a water line for the icemaker in your fridge, you can easily install one yourself in most cases.  It took me about 10 minutes today to install a water line for my fridge using a self-piercing kit from Home Depot (although you can get it at most any hardware store) that cost about $15 and a 6 foot water line.

Here's the process:

  • Locate an existing cold water pipe adjacent to where you want the icemaker line to be.  I located a line in the basement about 5 feet away from where I needed the icemaker line to be.
  • Drill a hole through the floor to run your line.  This assumes that you are coming through the floor to feed your icemaker.
  • Shut off the cold water at the main inside your house.
  • Position the self-piercing saddle kit on the water line where you want it.
  • Make sure that the icemaker valve is off.
  • Tighten the bolts on the saddle so that the tip pierces through the copper pipe, but does not exit the other side of the pipe.
  • Turn the icemaker valve on.  Although the water is still off, there will be enough water left in the pipe for water to drip out of the valve if you have effectively pierced the pipe.
  • Feed the flexible copper that comes with the self-piercing kit through the hole in your floor down and around to where you have installed the self-piercing valve.  Note that if you are installing this in a basement that you want to finish at some point, you may want to drill holes thorough the studs and feed the line through those holes.
  • Put the compression fitting on the end of the flexible copper and tighten the fighting to the self-piercing valve.
  • Get a bucket on the fridge side of the flexible copper and slowly turn on the cold water at the main.  Once the cold water is fully pressurized into the house, inspect the self-piercing saddle for leaks.  If there are no leaks, turn on the self-piercing valve and let the water run into the bucket for a couple of minutes to clear any sediment and inspect the self-piercing saddle for leaks.
  • Assuming there are no leaks, turn the self-piercing valve off.
  • In my case I ran the flexible copper against the wall in back of the fridge and cut the copper close to the floor.  I then put the compression fitting on the end of the copper and installed a male-to-male fitting between the compression fitting on the copper and the compression fitting on a piece of braided PVC water supply line.  You can also choose to install the copper line directly into the back of the fridge, but you do have to worry about bends in the copper when you push the fridge back into place.  For an extra $7, the braided PVC line is well worth the investment.
  • My fridge has an integral filter that filters both water and water used for ice.  I turned the ice machine off before turning the water back on at the self-piercing valve.  To clear any sediment out of the water and particulate out of the filter, I poured out about 5 48oz cups of water.  Then I turned on the icemaker and threw out the first batch of ice it made just to be sure that I was using the purest water possible for ice.

It sounds a little more complicated than it is and I certainly had the benefit of doing this project in an unfinished basement.  However, professional plummer can charge $100-$200 or more for this job, so it's worth investigating yourself before you bring someone else in to do it.

Best of luck.

O'gio is running some specials

Makers of some of my favorite bags, O'Gio, is running some holiday promotional pricing on a lot of their products.  It seems that you can only get these promotional prices through whomever you might use to do your embroidery or silk-screening, but the prices are certainly worth asking about.  Prices are valid for orders placed through December 31.

Do you like your handwriting?

I mean really like your handwriting?  If so, you can use Fontifier to scan in your handwriting and create a font.  It costs $9 to create your font and you can preview it before you download and buy it.

Link found on this post at Drink This.

Barbour jacket

If you live in cold weather or travel a lot to cold weather, I would highly reccommend the Barbour Quilted Jacket with moleskin trim (I've only be able to find it in the United States at Orvis, but if you know another place that I can get them, I would be happy to post the store).  The jacket is well insulated for cold weather -- I've been wearing today in Colorado where it's been snowing and in the 20s with a thin sweater underneath and it has kept me plenty warm.  The pockets are well insulated and actually keep you hands warm.  Unlike other quilted barn coats, this coat has both a zipper and snaps, so it is very effective at keeping the wind out.  There is a nice internal zip pocket for anything that you might be worried about falling out and the external pockets zip as well.  As it says in the name of the coat, the collar is moleskin and is very comfortable against the neck.  The coat is cut to fall well below the waist and has snaps on the back that allow you to open up the bottom of the coat if you need to fit it around items you may have on your belt.

Although I have not yet had to wash it, the jacket can be cleaned in a normal washing machine and does not really have any special care instructions.  In the picture the jacket looks somewhat bulky, but it is actually well tailored in the shoulders and sleeves and does not feel bulky at all.

The jacket seems to work as well with jeans and a sweater as it does with dress pants and a button-up shirt.  Though I have not had a chance to wear the jacket in warmer weather, I think that the jacket would be fine with a long-sleeved t-shirt up to 40 or 50 degrees.

I certainly wouldn't reccommend the jacket as something that you would pack in a carry-on as a just-in-case-it-snows jacket, but it is not so heavy that you couldn't carry it to cold weather on a one to three day trip.

Monday, December 20, 2004

New version of Trillian

Both basic and pro versions of Trillian have been upgraded to 3.0.  Download here.

Looks like lots of cool upgrades.  The Pro version is still the only way to connect to use the video side of things on most IM platforms, but it's only $25 for the Pro product, so it is well worth it if you use IM with any frequency.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Wiki + Podcast = WikiCast

Found the WikiCast over at this post on Scoble.  The WikiCast is pretty much exactly as it sounds:

Call a number, leave a message, the audio is added to the Wiki, and the Wiki audio messages are available for Podcast.

Give it a try.

How do creative people market themselves?

Through creativity!  Check out this video for Marc and Tom (found via this post on Johnnie Moore's Weblog).

Being virally marketed by bloggers probably doesn't hurt either.

Got a piece of plywood?

If so, you can follow these instructions (found via this post on Boing Boing) to make a chair and desk. 


Here's something I was thinking about yesterday:

I like my iPod, but I really wish that I could have one convergence device that did everything: phone, Internet, e-mail, audio, video.  Does this turn the cellphone companies into all-mighty gods?  Maybe.  Will this make cellphones cost $1,000 or more?  Probably, but look at what the cost of a cell phone, Blackberry, iPod, and personal video player would cost you.  Does this turn hardware manufacturers into software companies?  Again, probably, but if you have been focused on design (i.e., Apple), the cellphone manufacturers would want you to help them design the best looking and most functional device so that they can tell consumers you were involved.

I have a collection of DVDs at home.  I refuse to invest in more DVDs.  Why?  Because I think that for me as an early adopter, DVDs are a dead medium already.  In the next 12-18 months, I expect to be able to on-demand a lot of the stuff that I want to watch.  As long as I can get access to movies I want to watch when I want to watch them, I don't need to take up the space in my house with DVDs.

The stuff that I can't get on-demand initially I will probably be recording on some sort of device in the next 12-18 months.  I certainly expect that all the content I record will be recorded to a device that will allow me to take it with me on my convergence portable device.  One of the biggest factors of home digital recording is storage.

I start to question whether or not I even need to own storage.  Do I?  No.  I have a high-speed connection, which, in the next 12-18 months, should only get faster.  Why should I have to purchase hard drives and redundant systems to sit at my house and draw electricity and worry about failures?  I would much rather spend a sliding scale of dollars on storage that was based in some bomb-proof bunker somewhere that was instantly backed up, had UPS systems, etc.  $1 per month per gig of storage I use?  Seems like a hell of a deal for the provider, I mean Gmail taught us that gigs of storage just don't cost that much.  Of course, if all my storage were offsite, then I could access it over the web whenever I wanted, including with my convergence device.  And I could watch my recorded content and movies on the media player built into my convergence device and listen to my audio on my convergence device -- basically be providing my own on-demand service.

So if I don't need storage for audio and movies and pictures and files, why exactly do I need an expensive computer?  If the broadband pipe is fast enough for me to transfer data to and from my offsite storage, it's probably fast enough for me to run on-demand applications.  Think about how the application business works right now: you buy MS Office and you use Outlook (insert whichever applications that you use the most in place of "Outlook") 80-90% of the time and the other applications much less (for many of you that have purchased Office 2003 Professional: how much do you really use Access?).  One-two year later, Microsoft releases an updated Office suite and you spend a big chunk of money to upgrade again; throughout the 1-2 year gap between major releases, you are responsible for keeping on top of the upgrades to the Office suite.  What if I could just pay per use for Office applications?  At home I use web-interface e-mail over the Firefox browser, so I don't need Outlook and I hardly use many of the other applications.  If I didn't need all of the RAM and hard disk space to store all of the applications on my machine, imagine how cheap my computer would be.  For scratch memory on my computer, I would use some sort of flash card array -- you can get 5GB SD cards even now, so imagine how much they will hold in the next 12-18 months.  If I could get the majority of what I needed on a flash card, then do I really need a dedicated monitor?  maybe I would just plug my thin client PC into my plasma TV with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

The next big question for my thin PC is the operating system.  If all of my on-demand application could be run in a web-interface, then maybe I could just use Firefox or Linux as my OS and run Open Office applications on demand instead of paying for the name-brand Microsoft stuff.  If this were the case, maybe my TV would just come with an open-source OS built into it and a slot for my flashcard memory and I could just get rid of my thin client PC.  My TV would then ship with a remote and a wireless keyboard/mouse combo and I would be covered.  Even better would be if the TV had a cable modem built into so that I didn't need a cable modem at all (TV and data over the same cord) and that the TV also had a WiFi access point and Bluetooth built in so that I could sink my convergence device, access the internet with my convergence device not having to use GPRS or pay-data, and let my friends with their old, clunky laptops access the Internet if they came over.

So why is the post called "Dominos?"  Well, imagine each paragraph as a domino.  As each paragraph ends, it falls over onto the next until there are no paragraph dominos left.  Where does the end of the current systems lie?  Hard to tell.  Am I right about how all this will play out?  Maybe, maybe not, but it will be exciting to find out.

Get podcasts on your Windows smartphone

Here's the instruction manual from Engadget.  It's really not that hard.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Treo 650 + WiFi

Got a Treo 650?  Hoping for WiFi?  This is your lucky day!  This post on Engadget links through to a hack to make a SD WiFi card work in the Treo 650.  For further usability, you can find a hack that allows you to tether to your Sprint Treo 650 via Bluetooth (wireless modem function) at TreoCentral.

Hey, if you are paying between $400 and $600 for a phone, you might as well be able to maximize its functionality.

Is the music industry getting it?

It's hard to tell, but there seems to be a ray of hope based on this post at Seth Godin's blog.  I would certainly reccommend reading the whole thing (yes, it is lengthy, and, yes, it might offend some of your virgin eyes with the language).

Here's a teaser, read the rest at Seth's blog:

It's all about permission marketing. Getting people to ALLOW you to sell to them. All the old wave marketing. On TV. It no longer works. Because of CLUTTER! Hell, I can see the same thing at MY HOUSE! I'm so INUNDATED with music that I listen to almost none of it. I need a REASON to listen. And it's not traditional. Hell, even AIRPLAY doesn't impress me. I've got to KNOW the person involved. Or else somebody NOT involved has to tell me it's happening. And these people I trust. The relationship isn't built in a day. And it's based on honesty. Ongoing veracity. And you overhype me once, break my trust once, and you're done.

What should you have known in 3rd grade?

Seth Godin starts off a list of 1,000 teachable things that every 3rd-grader should know.  Some highlights include:

  • How to type.
  • How to speak in front of a group.
  • How to write clear prose that other people actually want to read.
  • The 15,000 most common English words.
  • Conversational Spanish.
  • How to handle big changes, with grace.
  • How to run a small business.
  • How to sell.

How different is the list from a list that your parents would have made?  Even more important: how different of a list is this from what a 16-year old would make?

Somebody has to have started a Wiki for this -- let me know where it is and I'll link to it for you.

Forbes blog poll

Go and vote on the Forbes blog poll that asks; "What's Your Involvement With Blogs?"  You can pick between the following choices:

  • Have my own and update it daily
  • Check somebody else's every day
  • Have seen one, but don't read regularly
  • Have never seen one, but have heard of them
  • What's a blog?

I tend to agree with Steve Rubel over on this post at MicroPersuasion that the winner is going to be the first choice because all of us bloggers are going to post about it and the majority of voters are going to be blog authors with a close second being blog readers -- just trying to do my part, Steve.

Free Sherlock Holmes radio broadcast MP3s

Come and get 'em (link via this post on Boing Boing).

The Apple-Motorola cellphone deal is official

Read more at this post on Engadget.  I'd just really like it if there was a way to put a iTunes DRM-compatible player on my Windows smartphone.  Of course that would destroy the idea of Apple hardware, but maybe if it was a mini-SD card that had some sort of FairPlay decoder built into it so that I was still spending on hardware . . .

Office 2003 Tablet Update

I didn't see this the last time I checked for Office updates, but thetabletpcweblog has a post that links to this downloadable update for Office 2003 Tablet users that apparently improves ink recognition in all of the Office suite.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

No more Real content for iPods

According to this article on, the next version of the iPod update will prevent users from being able to load music purchased at the RealNetworks online music store onto their iPods.  Additionally, this "fix" may render previously purchased Real music unplayable on the iPod.

From the article:

It was not immediately clear whether iPods older than the photo edition had as a result also been rendered incompatible with RealNetworks' technology.

Apple is apparently not willing to open up their DRM technology to competitors, a strategy that, perhaps in the future will change, but for now seems to be viewed as a competitive advantage by Apple.  When Real first introduced their Harmony system that allowed iPod owners to purchase Real music and load it on their iPods, Apple was not amused, so it is not overly surprising that Apple has made a move to block Real access to their devices.

RIM injunction reversed

According to this article on, a US court of appeals has reversed the injunction against RIM in the patent infringement case that is ongoing between RIM and NTP.  The court did not dismiss the case and says that there is still an infringement issue, but has remanded the case to a district court for further ruling on the matter.  Does this mean that we will see the Blackberry client released soon for all of the cellphones that are supposed to have it, like the Nokia 6820 and MPX220?

Long Tail manifesto

Written by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, you can find The Long Tail manifesto here at Changethis.  From the manifesto:

Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.

It's all about consumer choice when you are freed from the constraints of the capacity of a store shelf.  Whereas in the past we could select from among the popular items (i.e., the "hits"), we now have the ability to browse through everything.  No longer are we limited to the 5 or 6 basic stations for TV; we have digital cable and DirecTV and content we can download directly from the Internet.  No longer are we bound to what we find on the shelves at Tower Records; we can browse obscure artists through online music stores and even download free tracks from bands that we've never heard of (Ever heard of my friend Pete McClean?  You can download some of his best songs right here on SongRamp for free!).

But most of us want more than just hits. Everyone's taste departs from the mainstream somewhere, and the more we explore alternatives, the more we're drawn to them. Unfortunately, in recent decades such alternatives have been pushed to the fringes by pumped-up marketing vehicles built to order by industries that desperately need them.

Hit-driven economics is a creation of an age without enough room to carry everything for everybody. Not enough shelf space for all the CDs, DVDs, and games produced. Not enough screens to show all the available movies. Not enough channels to broadcast all the TV programs, not enough radio waves to play all the music created, and not enough hours in the day to squeeze everything out through either of those sets of slots.

In short:

Suddenly, popularity no longer has a monopoly on profitability.

Read the manifesto to find out more about The Long Tail.

Beta desktop search tools and PSTs

Anyone else worried about the number of beta desktop search products that are interacting with your Outlook PST files?  I've been lucky in that I haven't had too many corrupted PST files in my time using Outlook (knock on wood), but I do worry about all the different search programs that are entering my PSTs to index the e-mails and attachments.  I get a security alert from Outlook 2003 every time that Filehand Search goes through my PSTs, although I have not experienced that issue with X1 or Lookout for Outlook.  I still haven't installed the new MSN Search and the Google Search doesn't have the capability to search within PSTs yet.

I guess I feel more comfortable with the full versions (i.e., non-beta) of software like X1 and Filehand, but I do still worry about PST corruption.  My advice to all of you: Just be careful using these beta tools or letting them have too much interaction with your PST files, especially if you are not backing up your PSTs on a daily basis.


The easy group is now taking on pizza according to this post on TJ's Weblog.  Like many of their other products, pricing will be based on how long before the actual date of product or service delivery an order is placed.  From the post:

Working on the same "demand-based pricing" that has applied to his low-cost airline, it will offer a pizza for a pound [sterling] for those who order early enough, impressing some business analysts and appalling anti-obesity campaigners in equal measure.

The decision to order pizza is usually a last minute decision for me, but I guess that's the whole point.

46 best freeware applications

Via this post on Cameron O'Reilly, you can find a listing of "The 46 Best-Ever Freeware Utilities" right here.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Great advice on building your team

Can be found here on this post at BeyondVC.  The advice is pretty lengthy, but certainly a worthwhile read, especially if you find yourself in a position where you are planning on hiring some people in the near future.

MSN Desktop Search now available

Not surprisingly, MSN Desktop Search is now available for download (note: I first found out about this via this post on thetabletpcweblog, so they get the link).  Some useful things from the tabletpcweblog post:

From the MSN Search Blog by way of thetabletpcweblog:

Start any task, quicker

By default you can jump focus to the Deskbar by pressing CTR+ALT+M.  For fans of the Window’s key – go to Deskbar options and enter SHIFT+Q (or any letter not already in use).  Now when you press Windows+Q you’ll jump to the Deskbar and be ready to search right away. 

Find entire conversations

After finding an email you were looking for, try right-clicking on it.  Select “Show Conversation” and we’ll automatically refine the search results to show all the emails from the conversation thread.

Be sure to download iFilter that allows you to search inside Acrobat PDF files.  Also, 2 tips from tabletpcweblog to make indexing go faster:

  1. Make sure Outlook or Outlook Express is open. The MSN Indexer will only index mail when the client is running (Google has this same limitation, x1 and Copernic do not).
  2. Bring the Indexer to the foreground by clicking on the MSN Search icon in the System Tray and choosing Indexing Status. Click the “Index Now” button and let the window “float” above whatever you’re working on. This way, it keeps running (with minimal impact on the system) rather than pausing every time you move the mouse. Or, you could leave the PC on and go take a long drive.

I'm a little concerned with having so many search programs on my computer right now.  I'm going to dump a couple before I install this one.

Important info for iPod users

I saw this information on a post over at Cameron O'Reilly:

Okay, so here's a tip for you iPodders out there - if you find a mysterious iTunes folder on your hdd and it's got nothing but .tmp files in it, ahem, DON'T DELETE IT.

I keep my music in a special folder on my hard drive, NOT under "My Documents/ My Music" which is where iTunes likes to try to stuff it. So yesterday when I went to PUT something into My Music, I discovered an iTunes folder in there. Hmmm, I thought to myself. What's THAT doing there? Must be junk DNA, I thought, from when I installed iTunes. I checked inside it, about 7000 .tmp files, taking up space, so, I thought, fuck it, I'll just delete it.

Next thing I know? My iPod is EMPTY dude. All gone. So, I re-import everything from my REAL iTunes folder, no big deal. BUT... all my meta-data is gone. Genres I changed are all back. NO SMART PLAYLISTS. NO RATINGS. 6 months of engineering my iPod to be the way I want it, all up in smoke. Time to start again.

I normally wouldn't quote an entire post, but I know a lot of people that do not store their music in the default folder.  All of my iTunes music is stored in an external hard drive on my Mac, but I also keep music in a different partition from the My Documents partition on my Windows machine; after reading this post, I checked My Documents/My Music and sure enough, there were .tmp files in it.

Anyone know a way to get around this on the Windows platform?  Anyone back up their .tmp data in case this happens?

Friday, December 10, 2004


That was fast!  Granted I'm a little behind the blogosphere buzz, but I only posted about Sprint and Nextel looking at merging a few hours ago, and lo and behold, I finally get through all the blog posts I missed while I was gone, saw a post pop up on Engadget, and the Wall Street Journal is apparently now reporting that there is a tentative merger agreement that has Sprint swapping 1.3 shares for every Nextel share.  The new company, once merged and called (very inventive name) Sprint-Nextel, will wind up being the 3rd largest wireless carrier. 

Does this mean that Nextel will start getting cool phones (i.e., the Treo 650)?  Does this mean that Nextel is switching to a PTT over CDMA framework?  Will you still be able to roam on the Verizon network for an extra $5 per month?  Does this mean that Motorola will lose the exclusive on Nextel phones?

So many questions, so little time.  I'll check the Internet again in 5 minutes to see if there are any more details.


I've been on vacation, so I am collecting some tidbits as I quickly go through all the blogs I read:

iTunes is apparently now taking PayPal as a form of payment for iTunes-purchased songs.  I am not a PayPal user, so this doesn't do much for me, but it certainly broadens the audience that can buy music on iTunes.  Also, apparently the first 500,000 that sign up for an iTunes Pay Pal account will receive 5 free songs.  Read via Gizmodo.

Trend Micro is giving away 6 months free of their Windows Mobile smartphone anti-virus software (the Symbian version will apparently be available in January).  Read via Gizmodo.

Spend a lot of time in the sun?  There's a detergent that you can wash your clothes with that actually binds a UV-absorbing compound to your clothes.  I spend a lot of time in the sun and have had to have some moles cut off, so I might check this out.  Read via Wired.

Lots of rumors this week as MacWorld approaches.  One is that Apple is going to start producing iPods with an embedded Sirius satellite radio receiver.  Sirius seems to be getting some good boosts in the arm and this would be a welcome complement to Howard Stern.  Now the question is whether or not you will be able to record Sirius content to your iPod.  Read via Engadget.

Vonage has cut a deal with Viseon to use the Viseon videophones to power a videoconferencing service.  Kind of a bummer that Vonage is making the service hardware specific, but I guess that would be the only realistic way that they could provide quality of service.  Read via Engadget.

No surprisingly in the world of cell company mega-mergers, there are reports that Sprint and Nextel are talking to each other about a merger.  Kind of weird when you consider that Nextel runs on a proprietary IDEN network, while Sprint operates on CDMA.  I would have thought that a Verizon and Sprint merger would be more likely as they both operate on CDMA, but who knows.  Read via Engadget.

Google Suggest will suggest search terms as you type based on site popularity.  Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion suggests that you might be able to stack your company or products against competitors provided that your company or products start with the same letters.  Could this be another advertising channel for Google.  Read more via Micro Persuasion.

RSS subscription tracking.  Finally!  Read more via Micro Persuasion.

Yahoo's desktop search client is going to be powered by X1.  Competition for Google's Desktop Search; I don't think that Google's search can read into PST files yet, and X1's definitely can.  Apparently the AOL desktop search is going to be powered by Copernic.  Note that both Copernic and X1 have both recently released major upgrades to their search tools.  Read more via thetabletpcweblog.

The Tunderbird RC 1 is available at Mozilla.  Apparently it includes a built-in RSS reader that seems to look a lot like NewsGator with Outlook, except Thunderbird is free and if the software is built in, then you don't have to pay for NewsGator either.  Check out Mozilla.

BMW Z4s are available again from American Express on Monday.  Please withhold all of your purchases so that I can buy one.  Thanks for your cooperation.  Visit the My Wishlist site any time but Monday.

Wine preservation.  Applicable if you drink Two Buck Chuck or $50 (or more) bottles of wine.  Find one via Luxist.

More marvelous commentary on the Pepsi Spice blog.  Check it out.

Clearing your ears -- not just for divers.  Here is a list of 5-6 good ways to clear your ears.  My tip: clear your ears before you need to.  Read via Gadling.

Let your customers design cool ads for you and save yourself the cost of it.  Check out this ad for the iPod Mini.  Even better, the ad is only on the internet and 34,000+ hits with no investment from Apple at all -- send this man an iPod!



Friday, December 03, 2004

More Bingo!

Seth Godin posts a link to Business Buzzword Bingo!  Check out the site: it allows you to create bingo cards with different business buzzwords by reloading and has sites for eBusiness and Wired (read geek) bingo cards that change on reload; you can even use the web interface to create your own card.

Print them, take them to your next meeting.  Find prizes to give out.

Can you play bingo at your marketing meetings?

Via this post on Brand Autopsy, here is the Starbucks Marketing Bingo board:

Take this to your next marketing meeting.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Capitalizing on LiveStrong?

This just makes me sick.  Seth Godin has a post about a company that is marketing the "Friendship" bracelet, which just happens to very much resemble the yellow LiveStrong bracelet.  See the picture from Seth's site:

This makes me absolutely pissed off.  I've tried to help all of you that e-mailed me to find LiveStrong bracelets, so please do not settle for getting one of these things and supporting this rip-off marketing campaign.

Ambient Devices

Check out these pictures:

Ambient Devices is building a wireless infrastructure that will send data to "everyday devices" to let users know what is going on.  From left to right above:

  • The Ambient Orb that changes colors based on the Dow Jones Industrial Average performance.  You can upgrade to have it track your portfolio or other things.
  • The Ambient Dashboard that allows you track weather, sports, stock market, traffic, and lots of other things that are depicted in an analog format on the dashboard.
  • The Ambient Weather Beacon that changes colors based on the weather in your area.

Design meets functionality.

MSN Spaces has launched

Yes, I am going to be Yet Another Blogger (YAB) that talks about this service, which is probably exactly how they are hoping the service will be marketing.  MSN Spaces is a free blogging tool from MSN that seems to be their attempt to directly compete with Blogger (read Google).  There are reports from users that the service is a little rough around the edges and my experience with looking at some of the Spaces is that the spaces load very slowly.  Interestingly enough (but not necessarily surprisingly), the Spaces site looks like a SharePoint implementation for the public.  Many of the spaces that I have looked at look suspiciously like the SharePoint pages that are used internally at my company.  One nice feature is that Spaces natively provides RSS feeds as opposed to the ATOM feeds that are natively provided by Blogger; I have yet to find an aggregator that does not support both ATOM and RSS.

Just remember, if you are thinking of switching, Scoble's 21 Rules of Blogging, Rule Number 12: Never change the URL of your blog.  

Comment spam

The comment section of my site seems to have turned into a testing ground for anonymous posters and an advertising ground for others.  Here's the simple fact of the matter: I can turn the comments off on this site with one click of a checkbox.  If you want to test your comments, set up your own blog and test them on your own comments system; if you want to advertise, find a different medium than my blog to do so or send me a free sample of whatever you are advertising and I will be happy to review it for you (however, you have to accept the fact that I will review it truthfully, so the review will be there for the world to read: good or bad).

That's it.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Konfabulator updated

The Tablet PC Weblog has a post that details the changes in the updated version of Konfabulator.  From the post:

    • Reduced our memory footprint in Task Manager.
    • Upgraded the URL object to support POSTing, outputting to a file and returning the HTTP response code (see the Release Notes).
    • Made the Below window level stick to the desktop when choosing Show Desktop from the Task Bar.
    • We now react properly to monitor configuration changes and move widgets appropriately. We also remember where they were per screen config.
    • We now store our unzipped widgets in the local app data folder, not the system’s temporary folder. This avoids the problems people experience when running temp file cleaners, essentially wiping out all the support files for a running widget.
    • Fixed problem where click-through was not working. This meant you had to click twice if a widget was not already active.
    • Redid CPU monitoring code to avoid issues with performance counters. It should work on all machines now.
    • Attempted to solve the occasional spontaneous unregistering issue. If you do become unregistered after installing this release, enter your registration again. We have an alternate solution in place, so if you re-register, it will do it a bit differently and will hopefully be permanent.
    • Added automatic check for updates, with ability to ‘skip’ a version.
    • Read the detailed Windows Release Notes

I had actually uninstalled Konfabulator from my Windows machine because of problems that I was having with it; I'll re-install now that it seems many of the problems have been addressed.

Productivity enhancers for Mac

The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a great list of applications that add enhancements to your Mac OS.


Want to put your logo on a sticker that blinks every time a cellphone rings?  This post on Engadget links through to this company that sells stickers that you can logo and stick on a phone that blink when it rings.  Apparently the sticker uses "radiation from your mobile phone" to power the blinking lights; I'm not sure that references to radiation really make people feel safe about using their phones.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Tom Peters Project '04

Just got finished reading the new Tom Peters book, Project '04.  You can get most of the components of the book from these various places:

The missing parts, I haven't been able to find them online:

    • Excellence: I'll Know it When I See It
    • Pity the Poor Brown

So what's the point in buying the book if you can download most of the parts?  Quite frankly, you can do what you want, but even though there is no real common thread to the book, everything seems to flow together as it has been assembled, and the book only costs about $10 (note: you are looking for an 8.5x11 spiral-bound book, not a standard hardcover or paperback).  As Tom says:

So ...

What is it/this?


My eleventh book was published in October 2003.  Book pubs are life's punctuation marks for authors.  Yet one does not lie fallow forever thereafter ...

Hence, what follows.

Badly organized.  (No organization at all, in fact.)  Yet "stuff" I needed to say.


Some "stuff" takes but a page.  Some goes on and on.  I am not displeased with the outcome.  (Why else would I have foisted it upon you?)

Most of the "stuff" is SUMMARY "stuff."  Draft efforts to s-u-m-m-a-r-i-z-e a lifetime's worth of observations.
(For better or ... for worse.)

Enjoy! (I enjoyed doing it.)

Here's my suggestion: Buy the book.  Read it cover-to-cover.  Repeat.  Send chunks of information to people that you think need it; use the links I provided above.  Extract some lessons and attach them to the signature of your e-mail; hell, copy one of the items below:

It's all about brand-you.

It's all about Me, Inc.

It's all about WOW projects. 


Keyword: Engage

The one-two punch for TiVo

As if it isn't bad enough that TiVo is cutting its own throat with the banner advertising, according to this post on Engadget, DirecTV is readying a release of its own DVR product.  According to the post, TiVo received fully 3/4 of their new subscribers last quarter from DirecTiVo.  From the post:

They wouldn’t say much about them, except that they’ll have all the same features that TiVo boxes have now (apart from the 30-second skip, which is technically a hidden feature on TiVo anyway), as well as integrated video on demand and pay-per-view features.

Gadget gift guide roundup

Gizmodo is listing links to a bunch of gadget gift guides to assist you in finding the perfect gift for your favorite propellorhead.  Happy shopping!

MERGE cellphone dock

Only have a cell phone and no home phone?  Do you get unlimited nights and weekends with your plan?  To make sure that you are getting the most out of your unlimited minutes, get the MERGE dock that allows you to use your Motorola cell phone to connect to a landline phone to make and receive calls.  Apparently the dock supports caller-ID, call waiting, call forwarding, and voice-dialing.  Although it doesn't make it extremely clear, it sounds like you can choose to make a call on your land-based service or your cell service simply by pressing the "#" sign on your land-based phone.  Cost of this?  Only $99!  Here's the compatibility list.  Thanks to this Engadget post for the picture and info.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Strange things are afoot on - was first noted for selling the anal massage (note that this link may no longer be active) a week or so ago.  Now, according to this post on Boing Boing, Target is selling marijuanaCrack and MDMA.  Why is this happening?  Well, this Boing Boing post explains it:

"Mystery solved: A little poking around in the item information for Target's"Anal Massage item reveals an ASIN. This is because Amazon and Target are business partners and ASINs are the unique identifiers used by Amazon. So if you go to Amazon and search for this item's ASIN (B0002KPIBO) you learn that (unfortunately) the item in question is not an actual anal massage, but rather an instructional DVD called "Anal Massage."

I am sure that all of these blog reports are sending loads of traffic to the Target website, but it's probably not the kind of visitors that Target is looking for.

Seth Godin recently had a post asking a question as to whether or not IT guys should be running a business website.  He pointed to a frustration that he had using the Air Canada website, which was driven by a technical problem.  Similarly, based on the explanation above, the problems on the Target site a driven by a technical problem that is causing what I am sure is frustration for Target.

Is this ASIN sharing a problem that was anticipated by the programming staff for Target?  Probably not.  But it does beg the question as to whether or not others should have been involved in the design process to mitigate problems like this.

I switched to Cingular

To Cingular from Nextel.  Although I have been a supporter of Nextel for quite some time, they are simply too far behind where I want to be with my phone; the opportunity cost of not having a smartphone now outweighs the PTT Nextel functionality.

I lucked out in that I was able to pick up a Motorola MPX220 at Best Buy on Saturday for $349 less a $300 mail-in rebate; I also bought the Best Buy replacement policy for $39, which apparently was enough spending for them to give me a $25 Best Buy gift card.  What was especially nice about this deal was that I only had to sign a 1-year contract, rather than a 2-year deal (most smartphones require a 2-year deal to allow the carrier to subsidize the price of the phone).

They couldn't activate the date package for me at Best Buy, but I called today and activated the unlimited internet package and international roaming (another Nextel deficiency) with no problem at all, which is nice as I do travel outside the country sometimes.

I have yet to find a place where the Cingular signal is worse than my Nextel signal and in most places, especially in my office, the signal is stronger.

A few additional added bonuses to Cingular:

  • Being able to put my SIM card in any unlocked GSM phone.
  • Rollover minutes (I tend to use many more minutes in the summer than I do in the winter).
  • International service (yes, I know I already mentioned this).
  • Amazing customer service -- I have not waited any longer than 2 minutes to talk to a rep.
  • Free in-network calling to any Cingular/ATT subscriber -- I know a lot of people with Cingular/ATT phones.

The MPX220 sync'd very easily with Outlook.  I was not looking for push e-mail service, although Motorola is supposed to release a Blackberry client for the phone and, if my IS&T department allowed it, the phone syncs over the air with Active Sync that is built into the Exchange 2003 server.

All in all, I have to say that I am very satisfied.

Great Review of Mirra Personal Server

Looking for a low-cost back-up solution for your home or small office?  The Tablet PCs Weblog has a great 4 part review of the Mirra Personal Server device: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.  There a lots of screenshots and lots of personal advice as this is a hands-on review of the device.  The Mirra certainly seems to be worth the cost based on this review.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

TiVo's quarterly results call

Engadget has a post that details the views of a listener to TiVo's Quarterly results call yesterday.  Here are some of the highlights from that post:

  • TiVo to Go should be out before the end of this year.  Certainly much more quickly than I expected it.
  • The TiVo/Netflix partnership on demand video service should be out in the next 12 months.  I am sure that TiVo is hoping they'll still have enough subscribers to utilize this service.
  • 80% of TiVo users have broadband in their home.  That's extremely interesting.  Now why can't you set up a TiVo over the internet?  Why do you have to plug it into a land-based hone line for initial set up?  I guess this ties into the bullet above regarding video on demand: it will obviously be coming through the boradband pipe.
  • TiVo receives ad revenue from both their stand alone and DirecTiVo units.  Not surprising and I am sure that they will receive even more revenue from their banner advertising.

Some items directly from the listener:

  1. TiVo seems to be placing a great hope in the future of the TiVo/DVD recorder combo. Personally I think that this hope is misplaced. Although it’s a nice feature, ultimately with a 4.7 gig maximum storage space on a DVD you’re limited. I don’t think people really care about this and I think the longer-term sales numbers will be disappointing. Of course TiVo had to mention this as it is important to a number of their hardware partners.
  2. A more interesting area is the whole concept of TiVo to Go. TiVo to Go will allow users to get content off of their TiVo boxes (although I’d imagine not off of the HDTV DirecTV unit) and transfer the file to a PC or a laptop for remote viewing. The exciting thing that came out of the conference call was that CEO Mike Ramsey said to expect before this before the end of this year. Yikes! That’ s coming up quick. I’m looking forward to seeing this roll out.
  3. My personal favorite - the standalone HDTV TiVo DVR. In Ramsey’s words, they have seen “huge” demand for the DirecTV HDTV unit currently on market. This demand is causing TiVo to reconsider coming to market with a standalone HDTV DVR. Not exactly an announcement but it’s nice to know that they are thinking about this.
  4. Broadband content delivery. Ramsey said that the Netflix deal is real and not just a general agreement or hype. He said to expect a rollout of this deal within the next 12 months and sees this as the starting point of a longer initiative of delivering content via broadband. TiVo envisions a living room that has content inputs from both broadband and broadcasts and wants to own the machine in the living room (as does Microsoft of course).
  5. Although not as pressing of a priority right now, the last priority mentioned was continued development of the cable card.

Suspiciously absent from this is any mention of the banner advertising.  of course, that could be due to this:

. . . it’s really only selected analysts that get approved to ask the questions on these calls and they were pitched some fairly easy balls by their analyst friends today.


Engadget has a serious tutorial on how to use RSS and BitTorrent to automatically download TV shows.  Seems like a great alternative to TiVo if you have the patience and resources.

Buy a 2005 BMW Z4 for $5000!

So when I received the e-mail with that in the subject line, I immediately assumed it was spam.  However, I checked the sender and realized that it was an approved address from American Express; I opened the e-mail and was directed to this page.

Turns out that American Express is running a promotion that allows American Express cardholders to purchase high-ticket items at significant discounts for the next few days.  There are various quantities of different items available for purchase at 12PM, 4PM, and 9PM EST.  The items remaining for purchase are as follows:

  • Today -- Panasonic D-SNAP SV-AV50 video camera.  Retails for $400, but you can buy it on the AMEX site for $150 and there are 335 available.  This camera got a "fair" rating on its CNET Review.
  • Tomorrow -- Williams-Sonoma Baker Collection.  Retails for $170, but you can buy it on the AMEX site for $50 and there are 495 available.  This would probably make a good Christmas gift for someone that was into baking.
  • Friday -- The Art of Shaving engraved, nickel-plated shaving set that includes a stand, razor, and badger hair brush.  Retails for $770, but you can get it for $150 on the AMEX site.  I actually use an Art of Shaving brush myself and I have found that I get a much closer shave with less irritation by using the brush.  It would be nice to have the full set and the razor uses Mach 3 blades, my brand of choice.
  • Saturday -- Sigerson Morrison leather bag.  Retails for $860, but you can get it for $200 on the AMEX site and there are 250 available.  I have never heard of this brand, but I have asked a couple of people that I know about it (people that are into coutere) and they were pretty impressed.
  • Sunday -- NBA travel package for two to see the Heat vs. Lakers in lower level seats on Christmas Day, including round-trip first-class air and a 5-star hotel.  Retail price of the package is $5,400 (probably varies a little depending on where you are flying from), but you can get it on the AMEX site for $1000 and there are 10 packages available.  I am not a huge basketball fan, but this would be a really cool gift for someone that was into the game.
  • Monday -- this is the big ticket item!  A 2005 BMW Z4 3.0i roadster including round trip air fair to go pick the car up in South Carolina and attend the BMW Performance Driving Course.  Retail value of the package is $42,500, but you can buy it on the AMEX site for $5000 and there are 5 available.  I am certainly going to take a whack at trying to get it, wouldn't you?  I am certain that the odds on this one are horribly against me, but I've really got nothing to lose.
  • Tuesday -- this was just recently added: Treo 600 smartphone.  Retail for the phone is $450, but you can get it on the AMEX site for $150 and there are 300 available.  Unfortunately this is not the new Treo 650, but it's still a really good price for the 600 at this point.  I am assuming, based on the color of the phone in the picture, that this is an unlocked GSM model that you could use with T-Mobile or Cingular/ATT or any other GSM carrier (note that the AMEX site makes no mention as to whether or not the phone is carrier-locked).

Think this will cause people to go out and sign up for American Express cards?  I am sure that's what they're hoping and, if one of these gifts is on your list for someone, it certainly seems like a better deal than signing up for a store card to receive 10% off (assuming that you are lucky enough to be able to purchase one of the items above).

I'll let you know if I get to buy one of the BMWs or if I am successful in purchasing any of the other items.  Also, this promotion runs until December 21, so I'll try to update new items periodically as I see them pop up.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

DVDs = disruptive technology for Hollywood

Read an interesting post on Brand Autopsy on how DVDs have totally disruptive the old "standard" business model for Hollywood.  From the post:

  • For consumers buying DVDs, 30% saw the movie in the theater, 30% saw it on cable, and 40% have never seen the film.
  • Despite being a critical purchase factor for consumers, the DVD extras (actor commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, alternative endings, etc.) are only viewed by 20% of DVD buyers.
  • ‘Eventize’ is the marketing idiom du jour being used in Hollywood. Eventize … as in, “We need to eventize the hell out of this release.”
  • Studios generate around $9.00 cash flow per DVD sold. [COST BREAKDOWN: Studios incur about $6.00 in costs (from production to marketing to royalty fees) to produce one DVD and they charge retailers a wholesale price of approx. $14.95 … leaving slightly more/less than $9.00 as positive cash flow per DVD sold.]
  • Given the profitability of DVDs, an unnamed Hollywood executive referred to DVDs as being, “… the corporate A.T.M. machine.”
  • Mega retailers dominate the consumer sales of DVDs with Wal-Mart capturing 22% of all DVD sales in the US. Best Buy, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, Circuit City, and Blockbuster combined are responsible for 42% of DVD sales.
  • With greater frequency, more films are receiving only a two-week theatrical run and then disappear only to reappear on the DVD market to exploit the ‘home-cinema’ market.
  • The emergence of the ‘home-cinema’ market is having a profound effect on how consumers experience motion pictures. Mark Rance, a DVD producer, explained this effect by saying, “What we’re used to is the 19th century theatrical experience: you go to a theater with a large group of people, you see a movie and enjoy it with a crowd. That’s being replaced now by, like, 20 people in your living room, like a book club watching a film they might not have heard of.”

Also from the post, and perhaps the most telling: ". . . DVDs now claim 63% of a film’s revenue (as generated through wholesale DVD sales to retailers) while box office receipts only account for 21% of a feature film’s revenue."

I rarely watch any of the DVD extras; if I do watch them, I only watch them once and I find many of them to be very disappointing.  It is interesting that everyone subconsciously feels the quick release cycle of DVDs -- I hear a lot more people saying, "I thought that was just in the the theater" than I have in the past.  However, I really wonder how sustainable DVDs are as a media.  Personally, I think that within the next 24-36 months (probably sooner for those of us on the left side of the chasm, but I'm talking about the general public), most people are going to be downloading their movies or simply viewing them on demand.  Steve Jobs seems to have been right in saying that people want to own their music (at least for now), but I don't think that people necessarily want to own their movies (with the possible exception of Disney DVDs that only are "released from the vault" every once and a great while).

Color lasers encode machine serial number in pictures

At least it's happening according to this post on BoingBoing:

Colour laser printer manufacturers encode each printout with the printer's serial number so they can trace it back to you if you are counterfitting bills. They can trace it back to you for anything else as well.

The reason you probably haven't heard much about it is because it (AFAIK) is only used by the Secret Service to trace counterfeit documents back to their source machines, and the Secret Service doesn't like to talk too much about means and methods.

For what it's worth, true or not, it's certainly interesting to consider (not that I am advocating counterfeiting of anything) how you could be tracked by a printer output.

The Perfect Wine Pour

Business 2.0 has this article about the Enoround automatic wine dispenser at VinoVenue in San Francisco.  More information from the article:

Each of VinoVenue's $20,000 Enoround carousels holds 16 bottles, and above each spout is an LED displaying the price per pour. Customers use smart cards to pay for their drinks. As the dispenser fills a glass, it replaces the lost liquid in the bottle with argon, an inert gas that seals the remaining wine against oxidation. That innovation preserves even white wine for as long as two months and allows VinoVenue to serve more than 110 vintages by the glass -- about three times the offerings of most wine bars.

Monday, November 22, 2004

TiVo update by way of Fast Company Now

Fast Company Now had this post following a conversation between Lucas Conley at Fast Company and TiVo PR:

I spoke with a member of TiVo's outside PR this afternoon - here's what we discussed:

  • TiVo will be serving up advertisements.
  • The advertisements will appear on recorded programs when you fast forward through commercials.
  • Advertisements will take the form of "small tags."
  • These tags will appear for about four seconds, or however long it takes to fast forward the commercial.
  • Users will be able to click the ad to learn more about the product or service.
  • Once they've clicked through, users can opt in and pass on their contact info.

I like the plan that I found on this post at Micro Persuasion:

Jackie Huba is tracking a big TiVo crisis brewing in the blogosphere over the ads they may insert over fast-forwarded advertising and says they could be the next Kryponite. She also tells the company it's not too late to act and offers a  sound four-point plan of PR attack...

1. Start working the media.
2. Monitor the blogosphere like an air-traffic controller.
3. Launch a program to include influential evangelist bloggers in your response.
4. Make rapid plans to launch a blog.

Dear TiVo.

You are getting slammed in the blogosphere; immediately follow the plan above.  Do not assume that getting information published in high profile blogs like Fast Company Now is going to solve your problems; do not assume that posting in the TiVo Community news groups is going to get the information to everyone that is concerned about this issue (I don't have a TiVo, so I am not a member of those groups).  Start a blog and start talking to the public directly -- you need to communicate with those that are already paying for your product (not me) and those that may have been interested in paying for your product (me). 

You are getting killed out here.



Drinking Pepsi Spice until Christmas

That's what this guy is doing and documenting on his blog.  Let me give you some of the choice quotes:


Pepsi holiday Spice Consumed:
24 (12oz cans)
1.5 (2 liters)

Health Effects Noted (If Any): Sneezing, extreme itching on neck area..looks like dry skin.

Pepsi holiday Spice Consumed:
24 (12oz cans)
4(2 liters)

Health Problems Today (if any): Itching Neck Vagina, Mild Bloody Nose, Diarrhea.

Pepsi holiday Spice Consumed:
24 (12oz cans)
6.5(2 liters)

Health Problems Today (if any): Mild Itching Neck, Mild Diarrhea, Mild desire to molest illegal Mexican worker.

Funny and disturbing at the same time.  With the advent of blogs, you no longer have to wait to get national attention for experiments like these.